"Ratios are discussed in the next section"
"Ratios will be discussed in the next section"

(1) Are both versions acceptable? If so, (2) Is one preferable? and (3) Is there any significant difference in meaning?

  • It's probably 50 : 50. (The downvoter might be indicating disapproval of: lack of research, non-checking of ELU for similar questions, considering such a question appropriate for ELU in the first place ... ). – Edwin Ashworth Mar 11 '15 at 11:09
  • @EdwinAshworth I am the new down voter, post your comment. You believe both are (equally) good. So where's the raison d'être for the question? – Kris Mar 11 '15 at 12:17
  • Kris, the fact that Edwin believes that the both are good, that's an answer to the question: which one is better. I don't see why you think that the question lacks a reason to exist. It may be criticised for the reasons Edwin suggests, but that seems not to be your reasoning. – djna Mar 11 '15 at 12:22
  • @djna As you correctly noted, that's not my reason for the down vote. My point is that it is a NARQ: there's no question in the first place, right? Furthermore, the OP says nothing of why he would want to chose one over the other. So on basis could anyone answer the question? – Kris Mar 11 '15 at 12:26
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    OK, I'm confused. "Which one is better" seems pretty real to me. Indeed your pertinent critique of my answer shows that it's quite a nice little question. – djna Mar 11 '15 at 12:29

My first inclination was to say: The next section already exists, so Ratios actually are discussed there. If I were writing a sequence of articles and were speaking about the upcoming article, which does not yet exist, the Ratios will be discussed there.

I think that if we follow that approach we are in some sense correct, but there are other approaches that have wide acceptance.

A way to think about it might be to view the article as joint venture with the reader: we imagine the reader reading over our shoulder as we write. We then can use

will be discussed ...

and imagine the reader expectantly waiting for that discussion.

Conclusion: both forms are indeed valid. My personal preference: use fewer words, so use discussed.

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  • Why do you think so? – Kris Mar 11 '15 at 12:15
  • Kris, why do I think what? I thought I had explained. If something already exists then we can use present tense (is, are, am ...) if something will eventually exist in the future then we should use future tense (will be). What's your issue? – djna Mar 11 '15 at 12:19
  • The logic is sound. However, the context is more involved that that. One could even say something "will be" dealt with in the next paragraph, or next sentence, without being grammatically incorrect. Think of it. – Kris Mar 11 '15 at 12:23
  • It may help to note that what is being referred to here is the "discussion" and not the "topic" (ratios) here. HTH. – Kris Mar 11 '15 at 12:25
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    This ignores the extremely common usage of the present to announce a future event. 'We are flying / fly to the States tomorrow.' The 'flying' does not 'exist' (is not taking place) when the announcement is made, but the usage is perfectly acceptable and clear. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 11 '15 at 12:30

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