he will be the man who...

Which are correct:
1) John is the man who will meet you at the airport.

2) John will be the man who will meet you at the airport.
3) John will be the man who meets you at the airport.

Is there any difference in the meanings?


Gratefully,
Navi

Original Post
navi posted:

Which are correct:
1) John is the man who will meet you at the airport.

2) John will be the man who will meet you at the airport.
3) John will be the man who meets you at the airport.

Is there any difference in the meanings?

Hello, Navi,

Grammatically, they are all correct, but the red sentence is a bit awkward, with its seemingly unnecessary duplication of the future tense. I like (1) and (3) much better, especially if you have in mind all three sentences meaning the same thing.

In our contextual vacuum, it is easy to fancy that you have in mind a single meeting event. But habitual readings are possible. Sentence (2) could mean that John will be designated the person who will regularly meet you at the airport.

Thank you very much, David,

I hadn't thought of the habitual reading at all!! Couldn't sentences '1' and '3' have the habitual reading?

I thought if someone was guessing, or deducing from evidence, that John would be the man in question, then they'd be more likely to use '2' or '3'. '1' seems to be the bare statement of a fact. 

Gratefully,

Navi

navi posted:

I hadn't thought of the habitual reading at all!! Couldn't sentences '1' and '3' have the habitual reading?

Hello, Navi: Yes, they certainly could.

navi posted:
I thought if someone was guessing, or deducing from evidence, that John would be the man in question, then they'd be more likely to use '2' or '3'. '1' seems to be the bare statement of a fact. 

I think that interpretation works, Navi. I still have a slight preference for (3), however, to avoid doubling up on the future auxiliary.

tara posted:

After you answered Navi's question can you please explain if we use "will" like "present simple" for habitual actions"?

Hi, Tara: Yes, as you can see above, "will VP" sometimes admits a future-oriented habitual reading. This is easier to see when an adverbial is added. For example, the sentence "John is the man who will meet you at the airport when you return from business trips" obviously has a habitual reading. Without the "when"-clause, the sentence could easily be talking about a single future event instead.

Please note that the habitual reading under discussion here is different from that found in sentences  like "On Saturday, John will often sleep in," which means that John has the present habit of sleeping in on Saturday. "Will" adds a certain special quality to such sentences; we could call it "willfulness." Such sentences differ subtly in meaning from sentences like "On Saturday, John often sleeps in."

David, Moderator posted:

Please note that the habitual reading under discussion here is different from that found in sentences  like "On Saturday, John will often sleep in," which means that John has the present habit of sleeping in on Saturday.

Thanks a lot

Is the first one about "future habit" but the second about "present habit"?

 

Such sentences differ subtly in meaning from sentences like "On Saturday, John often sleeps in."

What  is the difference please?

Hi, Tara,

As David told you, "will" expresses willfulness. We can also speak about persistence or even obstinacy. While the present simple merely expresses a habit, the future simple (accompanied by an adverbial to denote habit) expresses a willful, persistent, obstinate practice, for example:

- Bobby cries whenever his parents refuse to buy him a toy.

- Bobby will cry whenever his parents refuse to buy him a toy. (Being future, there is also something of a predictable behavior in the use of this verb form.)

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