A friend of mine is not a native speaker and he often says the following: "Make sure you'll do that."

I'm trying to explain why this should be: "Make sure you do that."

My explanation is as follows: "Make sure", in this context, already implies the "will" part of the sentence and so it's not necessary to add it after the "you".

What is the proper explanation behind this example? Is there any real grammar I can reference? If not then... I'm from Australia and I know that anyone there (at least in Sydney) would know that my friend is a non-native english speaker from this example. Is this the case in all english-speaking countries?

  • I think this is a case where convention wins over grammar, and the convention is "Make sure you do that." Jul 28 '16 at 12:04
  • as @MaxWilliams said, may be you could show him the ngram of usage for the two expressions, the you'll one does not show make sure
    – P. O.
    Jul 28 '16 at 12:17

Using the present tense for future events is normal usage in English, when the event is certain. As you tell your interlocutor to "make sure", using the present reinforce the certainty of that happening, there's no "maybe".

See the article on the British Council

> When we know about the future we normally use the present tense.

We use the present simple for something scheduled or arranged:

We have a lesson next Monday.

The train arrives at 6.30 in the morning.

The holidays start next week.

> We use will to talk about the future:

When we make predictions:

It will be a nice day tomorrow. I think Brazil will win the World Cup.

To mean want to or be willing to:

I hope you will come to my party. George says he will help us.

To make offers and promises: I'll see you tomorrow. We'll send you an email.

To talk about offers and promises

To remember that you could try thinking about "will", etymologically speaking. It means "to wish"; the actual future tense built on old English is something uncertain in essence. When you say "I will do that" you meant "I wish, I hope to do that". It's how the future tense came to be. It still keep this sense in the noun form: "a will" is the expression of your wishes for after your death.

> Will

Old English willan; related to Old Saxon willian, Old Norse vilja, Old High German wollen, Latin velle to wish, will

Compare "you will" with "you shall". and you could also read the full article on Online Etymology dictionnary

Old English *willan, wyllan "to wish, desire; be willing; be used to; be about to" (past tense wolde), from Proto-Germanic *willjan (source also of Old Saxon willian, Old Norse vilja, Old Frisian willa, Dutch willen, Old High German wellan, German wollen, Gothic wiljan "to will, wish, desire," Gothic waljan "to choose").

Compare also Old English wel "well," literally "according to one's wish;" The use as a future auxiliary was already developing in Old English. The implication of intention or volition distinguishes it from shall, which expresses or implies obligation or necessity.

  • "Will" is a present tense modal auxiliary verb.
    – BillJ
    Jul 28 '16 at 12:46

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