Teaching Temporal Clauses

We are still talking about the Cycle of the Present.

For Grammar to become an integral part of the English lesson, for Grammar to be absorbed, understood and applied in oral and writing activities by our students, continuous  review and practice are essential.

As I have often said, Grammar must be taught in context. This is important, but not enough! The texts and the oral and writing activities must be relevant to the subject we are teaching and geared to the students' interests.

When we teach the Future, we should choose subjects that would naturally require structures in the Future.  We can choose  texts dealing with plans for the Future, weather forecasts, astrology, etc. It might be a good idea to encourage students to act out a role – play between a fortune teller and a customer or to write a short composition describing what school  will look like 20 years from now. They may be asked to imagine their lives in the Future, their careers, families, etc. All these activities where they are naturally expected to use structures in the Future will help the new structures become an integral part of their language knowledge.

And now we will move to Temporal Clauses.

We have taught the Future Simple, so it is the right time to teach our students when we may not use this tense.

I will call you as soon as I get home.

We will have dinner after the kids finish their homework.

When Bob arrives, he will explain everything.

In these sentences students can clearly see that though all the verbs refer to the Future, those that come after Time Expressions will come in the Present Simple and not in the Future Simple. The simplest way to explain why (if they ask you…) is to say that the Time Expressions already indicate the Future and that is why we do not use the Future  after  Time Expressions.

The only problem is with sentences using the word when.

When will you come back?

I don't know when I will come back.

I wonder when they will return my call.

Here we have used the Future after WHEN.

So how will we know if we may or may not use the Future after WHEN?

When WHEN refers to a question, doubt, lack of knowledge, we may use the Future after WHEN. In other cases, we may not.

If our students speak Hebrew correctly, we can give them a very simple explanation.

If WHEN means מתי, we may use the Future after WHEN.

If  WHEN means כאשר, we may not use the Future after WHEN.

All this refers only to WHEN. As far as all the other Time Expressions are concerned, we may not use the Future after those expressions.

For further explanations, please see –

דקדוק אנגלי לדוברי עברית, p77-78.

For practice, please see –

The New Language Guidebook and Workbook, p 70-72.


Lea  🙂 


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