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Hi,
I know that after"when" I cannot use the future tense, although it is so natural to me and so difficult to remember this :-( in this specific case, I have really no idea of how to manage not to use it:

Situation: I am talking on the phone, I wish to speak with a person who in that moment is not available.So I would say:

"Can you tell me please when he is available" ? I would say "will" but rules say no future. Do I have to use present tense? or something like: "when is he going to be available"

Other confusing example:

"Please give me a call when you are back" I would say "will" but maybe here the only possibility is really only the present?

Thanks for helping with this issue

Pamela
Comments  
The rule does not say 'no future' at all; it merely observes that native speakers often use present for future in dependent clauses. However, sometimes we can and sometimes we cannot: it depends on the order of events. These are fine:

Can you tell me please when he'll be available?-- He will be available after you are told.
Can you please tell me when he is going to be available?- He will be available after you are told.
Please tell me when you get back.-- He will get back before he tells you OR He will tell you his planned return time.
Please tell me when you'll get back.-- He will tell you his planned return time.
etc.
This is very clear! Thank you very much!
Pamela
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Pamela81I know that after"when" I cannot use the future tense, although it is so natural to me and so difficult to remember this
Yes. Well, you should be an English speaker who is trying to speak Italian and trying to remember to put the future in there where it is so unnatural! This difference between languages works both ways, you know! Emotion: big smile

But seriously, you can use the future after 'when' when you have an indirect question with 'when', so it's OK there.

The following when-clauses are basically just asking for clock time - the hour when he will be available or the day when he will be available, for example, Can you tell me when he will arrive? = Tell me the time of his future arrival.

Can you tell me when he'll be available? - Fine.
Can you tell me when he's available? - Fine.
I don't know when he'll be available. - Fine.
I don't know when he's available. - Fine.
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In the following cases, however, the when-clauses don't ask for clock time or calendar time. Instead, they express a "trigger event" - an event that triggers the action in the other clause.

Can you tell me more about the project when he arrives?
~ Wait until he arrives. At that point in time, tell me more about the project. The clock time of his arrival doesn't matter. The arrival triggers the telling.

Can you tell me more about the project when he will arrive? - Wrong!
No "when ... will" with a trigger event.
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To use your example of a trigger event:

Please give me a call when you are/get back. - Fine.
Please give me a call when you will be/get back. - Wrong!
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So you can use "when ... will" after expressions like "I don't know", "Tell me", "I can't imagine", "No one told me", "I wonder" - in other words, when the when-clause is asking for a time - clock time or calendar time.

You can't use "when ... will" when the when-clause expresses a future trigger event.

CJ
Hi CJ!
thank you very much for your detailed answer very helpful although it is so hard to keep in mind all this.

Let me try:

1. When will you be back ? (here future is OK because it is a direct question)
2. I don´t know when I´ll be back (it sounds to me ok but I don´t know why)
3. Call me when you are back or call me when you will be back (both ok)?

Please have a look

Thank you so much

Pamela

p.s
yes, you are right :-) the problem works both ways.
An interesting thread. Thanks for posting this, Pamela! Emotion: smile
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1. When will you be back ? (here future is OK because it is a direct question) Right.
2. I don´t know when I´ll be back (it sounds to me ok but I don´t know why) Right. You don't know the time you'll be back (hour or day, for example).
3. Call me when you are back or call me when you will be back (both ok)? No. Not both. when you are back specifies the trigger event for the call; there is no specific clock time involved. You can't use future here.

CJ
hmmmmm :-(( so when there is not a specific clock time involved I don´t have to use the future? Is it correct?

Sorry but I think this is not completely clear :-((

Thanks

Pamela
Clock time or calendar time. It doesn't matter.

You've basically got two cases:

1) when ... that tells clock time or calendar time or implies it.
2) when ... specifies a trigger event for the action in the main clause.

For 1) use present or future.
For 2) use only present.

1) I don't know when she arrives. / I don't know when she'll arrive.
2) Call me when she arrives. / Call me when she will arrive.
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Just keep re-reading what has been written above. Eventually you'll be less confused.

CJ
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