Why can we use the following statement when we mean future events?

What time do you get there?

Or should we rather say:

What time will you get there?

Is there a difference?

2 Answers 2


The present tense can express the future when plans are being discussed, particularly in reference to timetables, routines and schedules. For that reason it is sometimes called the ‘diary future’.

  • So in the case above what is the difference between the two?
    – user17857
    Jan 23, 2012 at 12:59
  • @Mohammad: The difference is in the occasion on which each would be used. If you were discussing a business colleague's travel plans you would use the first. If you wre asking a friend how long it would take him to drive to his parent's home you would use the second. Jan 23, 2012 at 13:10
  • Thank you. What if that friend was headed to his office? Should we use the first or the second?
    – user17857
    Jan 23, 2012 at 13:13
  • @Mohammad: The first if you were asking about the time he generally arrives, the second if you were asking about a specific occasion. Jan 23, 2012 at 13:37
  • 2
    The first one, as Barrie has indicated, can be interpreted as a future plan, but it can also be interpreted as a question about a repeated action (e.g., What time do you get to the station each morning.) The question with will doesn't have this alternate interpretation. Jan 23, 2012 at 14:18

we use the present simple for future only to talk generally about formal actions that no longer are fixed

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