Why is it wrong to say:

That tree is falling tomorrow

The answer key says, in common, it is right to use -ing with near future. But it says that sentence is wrong, because it doesn’t show the specific near future. However there is “tomorrow”! Why is that wrong?

  • 2
    It would be helpful if you could quote the entire question and the answer key. – Shoe Oct 20 '17 at 11:11
  • Yes, please cite the entire question and, if it was a multiple choice, the possible answers offered. – Mari-Lou A Oct 20 '17 at 11:23
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    It's not incorrect, in informal speech and in the proper context. A guy taking down trees along a street might very well say "These two trees are coming down today, and that tree is falling tomorrow." But "being felled" or "being taken down" would be more formal. – Hot Licks Oct 20 '17 at 11:42
  • It's not incorrect in the right context. – Arm the good guys in America Oct 20 '17 at 19:05

Because the use of present tense forms with future meaning nearly always has an implication of intention, or at least of being scheduled.

You can say

That tree is being felled tomorrow.

because that implies that somebody is intending to fell it.

But trees falling are not generally intentional acts.

  • 2
    Perhaps an explanatory note saying that "to fell" and "to fall" mean two quite separate things. If the OP doesn't know why their sentence is considered wrong, it's likely they don't know the meaning of "fell". – Mari-Lou A Oct 20 '17 at 11:22
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    If you hired a tree removal service, it would be completely proper for the service provider to guarantee "that tree is falling tomorrow." – Davo Oct 20 '17 at 11:42
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    If you fell a tree (take it down), it does fall, but it is unlikely that you will say it that way. It seems weird because without the indication that someone is coming to take it down, it seems as if you know that the tree will fall down (without help) tomorrow. I could maybe see that if the tree is leaning at a 45-degree angle and a hurricane is forecast, you might predict that the tree won't make it through the storm, but otherwise, it seems odd to me. – Steven Littman Oct 21 '17 at 21:46
  • @Davo: I find "That tree is falling tomorrow" very unlikely and awkward, even in that context. – Colin Fine Oct 23 '17 at 13:57

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