What is a time clause?
Sometimes, talking about the future, we need to define the moment when something happens.
"I will give you a call at about eight."
But what if we need to replace "at about eight" with an action?
"I will give you a call as soon as I get home."
"As soon as I get home" is a time clause.
With time clauses, we often use these words:
- as soon as
Important! Common mistake!
Keep in mind that we don't use the future tense in time clauses. Instead, the verb is in the present simple.
Jannie will answer when she is ready. WRONG when she will be ready
I must warn them before it is too late. WRONG before it will be too late
Shall we go for a walk after we finish tidying up? WRONG after we will finish
You will receive a notification as soon as the funds are credited to your account. WRONG as soon as the funds will be credited
I won't cross the street until the light is green. WRONG until the light will be green
You can notice that the use of tenses is similar to if-clauses with if, unless.
You won't speak English well if you don't practise enough.
The team won't win this game unless a miracle occurs.
The moment, the day etc.
We can also connect the time clause and the main clause with the words like "the moment", "the minute", "the day", "by the time", "once" etc. The rule is the same: time clause = present tense.
I will tell Harry the news the moment I see him.
By the time we get to the shop, it will be closed.
The day he graduates, his parents will be proud of him.
Once the report is ready, I will print it for you.
Time clauses with present perfect
Sometimes we want to stress that the action in the time clause is complete. In this case, we can use the present perfect.
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I will reply to his email after I've discussed the matter with my boss.
Peter will phone me as soon as he has landed in Madrid.