The time will soon come when the world population [is/will be] over 7 billion.

Hiden

Senior Member
japanese
Does (1) work to express the same meaning as that of "Soon, the World's population will be over seven billion"?

(1) The time will soon come when the world population is over 7 billion.​

Does (2) sound better than (1)?

(2) The time will soon come when the world population will be over 7 billion"​
 
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  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would not use "is". I am not sure that "is" is ever used for a state that is wholly in the future.

    Sentence (2) is fine (although I would use "the world's population").
     

    Hiden

    Senior Member
    japanese
    One of my friends from the U.S. told me as follows:

    (2) expresses “anytime before the population becomes 7 billion”. Whereas (1) expresses “anytime after the population becomes 7 billion. (2022/8/10 Benjamin. P. L)”​

    Any insight you might have would be very much appreciated. Thanks.
     
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    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    You will need to provide a lot more context for (1) to fit. It needs a narrative with a timeline. Quite honestly, it sounds unlikely to me (future timelines are far less common than past timelines), but if you can come up with such a narrative, I am sure that I or someone else on this forum will be able to say whether the sentence fits. (2) is set in the present, which is how we usually talk about the future.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    To me, 2 has too many "wills". Only one is necessary.

    - The time will soon come when the world population will be over 7 billion

    The time will not come, it's already here. It's true now that the world population will soon be over 7 billion.
     

    Hiden

    Senior Member
    japanese
    To me, 2 has too many "wills". Only one is necessary.
    Thank you for your insight. Could you let me see if I correctly understand what you say? So you consider (1) acceptable, don't you?

    One of my friends from the U.S. says:

    Is the tense mixing actually a formal problem here? (I'm no linguist, but I feel like the tense mixing fits and contributes to the meaning of this sentence.) In essence, it seems like the "will soon come" in sentence one is doing the work of the "will be" in sentence two. In other words, the first part of sentence one -- "The time will soon come" -- may be referring to a time in the future, but the latter part - "when the world population is over 7 billion" is something about the state of things in the timeframe being referred to in the first part, so present tense seems apt (as it's a statement about something that will be the case when the future is the present). I hope that makes sense. (2022/8/10 Brad L)
     
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    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    [...] "The time will soon come" -- may be referring to clearly refers to a time in the future, but the latter part - "when the world population is over 7 billion" is something about the state of things in the timeframe being referred to in the first part, so present tense seems apt (as it's a statement about something that will be the case when the future is the present). I hope that makes sense. (2022/8/10 Brad L)
    Yes, as far as explanations go, it seems fine (with the minor correction in bold).
    But I have to agree with Uncle Jack, there's something very jarring in sentence 1. Therefore I'd also pick:
    (2a) The time will come soon when the world's population will be over 8 billion.
    (We reached 7 billion over 10 years ago !!)​

    If you want to avoid the repeated will but insist on keeping 'the time will come soon', you could rephrase to something like:
    (3) The time will come soon for the world to reach a population of 8 billion.​
    The infinitive construction 'to reach' automatically takes on the tense expressed with the finite verb.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    On second thought, I may have to recant. ;)
    If your friend's explanation is true and the main clause can pull down the time frame of the subordinate clause to the main clause's time frame, then why doesn't it work with the past tense?

    It was only 10 years ago that the world's population is/reaches 7 billion. o_O :cross:
    It was only 10 years ago that the world's population was/reached 7 billion.:tick:
     

    Hiden

    Senior Member
    japanese
    Oh! I see. Yes, that is a good test to make sure if his explanation makes sense. I’m very interested in how these three sound to the native speaker’s ears. How do they sound?

    (3) The time will soon come when the world’s population is over 7 billion.​

    (4) The time will soon come when the world’s population was over 7 billion.​

    (5) The time will soon come when the world’s population has been over 7 billion.​
     
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    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    The world population reached 7 billion in 2010. Leaving that aside and pretending we’re discussing some future event, I have no problem with 1 and 3.

    4 and 5 don’t work.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    I agree with Glasguensis. But you could say:

    (6) The time will soon come when the world’s population will have reached 8 billion. :tick:

    But oddly enough, that doesn't work with the copular verb to be:

    (7) The time will soon come when the world’s population will have been 8 billion. :thumbsdown:

    [edit: icons]
     
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    Hiden

    Senior Member
    japanese
    Michael Swan (1998: 584) states that a future verb is necessary for future reference in a subordinate clause if the main verb does not refer to the same time in the future:

    I'll hide it somewhere where he'll never find it. (two different future times)​
    If she rings, I’ll tell her that I’ll ring back later. (two different future times)​

    Doesn’t this apply to the sentence "The time will soon come when the world's population will be more than 8 billion"?
     
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    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Michael Swan (1998: 584) states that a future verb is necessary for future reference in a subordinate clause if the main verb does not refer to the same time in the future:

    I'll hide it somewhere where he'll never find it. (two different future times)​
    If she rings, I’ll tell her that I’ll ring back later. (two different future times)​

    Doesn’t this apply to the sentence "The time will soon come when the world's population will be more than 8 billion"?
    No. The two verbs refer to the same time.

    I agree with those who say that there ought to be no need to use "will" twice in your sentence, but your sentence follows an unusual pattern. For one thing, it uses "when" and for another, the the main clause uses an action verb but the subordinate clause describes a state not an action.

    I think either one of these makes the future tense better than the present tense, even if, from a grammatical perspective, the future tense is not necessary.
     

    Hiden

    Senior Member
    japanese
    Thank you for answering my constant questions, Uncle Jack-san. You have been helpful. I really appreciate your kindness in always helping me out. :thank you: 😃
     
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