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That < will be /is going to be> the window cleaner

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Taurusfp, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. Taurusfp Junior Member

    Caen, France
    FRANCE-FRENCH
    Hi,
    Thank you for telling me
    why will be is prefered to is going to be in : " That will be the window cleaner - he usually comes around at this time"
     
  2. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    "Will be" in this construction is not about the future. It indicates that the speaker believes in the probability of what follows it.

    Paraphrasing the sentence: That is very likely to be-almost certainly is the window cleaner.
     
  3. Taurusfp Junior Member

    Caen, France
    FRANCE-FRENCH
    Thank you :)
     
  4. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    An AE-speaking member explains above that "That will be the window cleaner" means "That almost certainly is the window cleaner" - but I am reviving this thread to ask: Do speakers of AE actually use "will" in this way? I ask because the matter has just come up elsewhere in the forum.
     
  5. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American
    Certainly no one I know uses will this way. If I hadn't read it in the fora, I wouldn't even know it existed.

    We say:

    That would be the window cleaner.
    That must be the window cleaner.
    That is probably the window cleaner.
     
  6. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    If the doorbell rings and I am pretty sure that it's the window cleaner, I (BrE) say:

    "That'll [will] be the window cleaner."
    "That must be the window cleaner."
    "That is probably the window cleaner."

    I don't say "That would be the window cleaner" in this situation.
     
  7. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    I (AE) agree with sound shift.
     
  8. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hullo.
    I'm not a native English speaker but, basing on my experience and studies, I'm inclined to believe that - as RM and sound shift point out - the use of will to express epistemic (ie, deductive, inferential, etc.) modality is very common and appropriate in BE.
    Besides, i would add that I suspect there is a difference between "That will be the postman" and, say, "That must be the window cleaner". In the former, WILL signals that the Subject/Predicate relation is thought to have a high degree of truth value due to the nature of the Predicate: this is the time of the day when the postman comes. In other words, the event is expected because it has acquired the status of a ritual.
    In the latter sentence, instead, the nature of the coming of the cleaner - albeat expected - has not the characters of a ritual, and therefore the modal auxiliary will have to show the stronger engagement of the speaker in the prediction of the occurrence of the event/state "That/be the cleaner".

    GS
     
  9. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    I've hired a company to clean my windows and given them the keys to my house because I will not be there. However, I just happen to return to my house and I see someone sprawling on my couch, watching TV, drinking my beer and smoking. I intelligently tell myself: 'That would be the window cleaner. The question is, why is he not cleaning windows? Let me ask him...' :D

    How about this situation, SS? Would you find 'That would be...' normal?
     
  10. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    In short, I would not, booze - but since you say something to yourself here, it doesn't matter which words you use. :D
     
  11. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American
    In AE, I might say this. It would be a bit ironic. As a similar example, say I'm on a class trip and I lost my underwear but haven't realized it. The teacher holds up the underwear and waves it around and says "Who lost her underwear?" I might say, sheepishly, "That would be me."
     
  12. ALEX1981X Senior Member

    Italian
    I take this occasion to ask all of you :

    We hear the doorbell ring and one of my friends say: Who can it be now ??

    That will have been the window cleaner

    Is it possible in AE or Be to use "will have" in this way ?? :confused:

    I think I've heard this before but I'd need your precious advice on this
     
  13. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Hmm. I disagree with Embonpoint. Maybe it's regional. Around here, "that'll be the window cleaner", "that'll be my FedEx delivery", etc. would be perfectly normal, indeed more usual than any of the above.

    Not possible, Alex.
     
  14. Alby84 Senior Member

    Boston
    American English
    I'm in the "that'll be the..." group as well. Although, I think "that's probably the..." is also a fine choice.
     
  15. ALEX1981X Senior Member

    Italian
    Thanks a lot Parla. Is it also impossible in BE ?? Could it be at least something one might hear colloquially ??
     
  16. Alby84 Senior Member

    Boston
    American English
    To me, "that will have been the window cleaner" would imply that the window cleaner has already left. I wouldn't phrase it that way, but that's how I'd interpret it.
     
  17. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American

    I must say when you say "That'll be" it strikes me as a lot less foreign than "That will be..." However, even so, it's still hitting me as very odd. And, given that I'm fairly close geographically--Alby and I live in Boston and Parla lives in New York--I'm wondering what I might be missing. I grew up in New Jersey to parents who were native New Yorkers and I've lived in five states; if I heard this before I never noticed it, and certainly I never picked it up in my own speech. I do plan to ask a few of my friends from various regions to see what they say!

    But first, a question for Alby and Parla, or other Americans who would say, "That'll be the window cleaner." What is the exact sentiment you have when saying that? Do you mean that it must be the window cleaner (ie. it almost definitely is)? Or it that it probably is the window cleaner? And when you say it, are you thinking of it as a present likelihood, or are you thinking that in the future, when you open the door, it will be the window cleaner in front of you?

    I also wonder about the expression used when you are buying something in a store to tell you the amount due. The clerk will often say, "That'll be $4.59." This is an expression which is perfectly natural to me, and I also would use myself. However, it actually makes no sense to me. Is this similar to "that'll be the window cleaner" in that it is softening the demand for money by suggesting a probability rather than an actuality?
     
  18. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    Thanks, Embon. Yes, most definitely ironic. I seem to have developed an ironic American way of potentially communicating with myself. :D

    And as we are on the subject of ironic... You know Alex, I just might say to myself something of that order. I have engaged the services of a window-cleaning company. I know that they will be sending someone to clean my windows. Indeed, at the appointed time my door bell rings. However, I am in the bathroom and I cannot be bothered to open. The person out there persists and the ringing of the door bell degenerates into a concertino. I change my mind and no longer intend to answer because I suddenly remember that I squandered all the money I had set aside for cleaner windows during a huge binge the night before. I keep the visitor hanging out there until it eventually dawns on him that today he's not going to make $100. 5 minutes after the bell stops ringing, I open the door and see a reassuringly empty space. Again, intelligently, I tell myself: That will have been the window cleaner, unperturbed by the agony I must have inflicted on the poor soul :D
     
  19. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    When I say it, I mean that it almost definitely is, and that when I open the door, I expect that yes, the window cleaner will be standing there.

    No. It means, "That will be the amount you'll pay me!" Seriously, I'm not sure why the future tense is used here. It definitely means, "The total bill comes to $4.59." Nothing probable about it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2013
  20. Alby84 Senior Member

    Boston
    American English

    I think this might come from a time where people behind the register actually had to do math when calculating the total bill. These days it's pretty much a quick scan and that's it, but back then there may have been a little more to it. For example, towards the end of their calculation before they've finished, I can picture someone saying, "Ok, that'll be... $X." Then again, this could simply be a fixed expression and I may be reading too much into it :eek:
     

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