Caroline L-B
Community Tutor
"when I was... I would" - why WAS? I saw this quote in a book. "A year's work in Egypt made me feel like it was a house on fire [...] my duty was that of a salvage man, to get all I could quickly gather in and then, when I was sixty, I would sit down and write it up." I understand the man is not yet 60 and he's talking about the future, but then I wonder why he doesn't say "then when I'll be sixty, I would". Or did I get this wrong and the man is already past 60 and he's reminiscing? On a related subject, that reminded me of a Bowie song called "When I'm five". He says "When I'm five, I will chew and spit tabacco like my grandfather Jones". I wonder again about the verb tense. Why not "when I'll be 5, I will..."?
Jun 26, 2013 8:41 AM
Answers · 8
Unlike in French (and Italian, etc.), the present tense is always used in English after "when" in talking about future events. It's just not good English to say "When I will be five", it has to be "When I am five".
June 26, 2013
The man is clearly past 60. And yes, he is reminiscing.
June 26, 2013
Still haven’t found your answers?
Write down your questions and let the native speakers help you!
Caroline L-B
Language Skills
English, French
Learning Language
English