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
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Caroline L-B
Language Skills
English, French
Learning Language