You don't/won't need your calculator.

Amber_1010

Senior Member
Chinese-Cantonese
Hi! I'm not sure which tense I should use in these cases.

Situation 1:
The teacher walks in the classroom and says "As you know, we are having a test today. Please put away all your notes and textbooks. You...."
1. You don't need your calculator for this.
2. You won't need your calculator for this.
-I think both of them are acceptable, but I'd use 1, the present tense, because it's clear when and what we are talking about.

Situation 2:
We took a math test yesterday. Will was absent yesterday so he didn't take it. Today, he's back. The teacher just asked us to work on our homework. And he asked Will to go to the room next to our classroom to do the test. Will is deciding what to bring, when he reaches for his calculator, I say to him:
1. You don't need your calculator.
2. You won't need your calculator.
- I think it's best to use the future tense here. It just sounds right to me. But is it wrong to use the present tense?

Please comment.
Thank you!
 
  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Either version is perfectly acceptable in either situation. Neither version seems preferable to me.
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    Hi, Amber.
    To my ear, they are both so interchangeable that I can't give you a principle for choosing.
    They both sound fully correct in both situations.
    I think my habit would be to use "won't" in both cases, but, as I said, I can't give you a principle or a reason why.
    "Don't sweat the small stuff", as they say.:)
     

    Jerail

    Senior Member
    English - Canadian
    In that context, because they are just about to start a test, the present and future tenses collide and become interchangeable. Just for comparison, here are a couple of examples where you don't have a choice:

    1. Before dismissing the students, the teacher says "remember, we are having a test tomorrow and you won't need your calculators."
    2. Halfway through the test, the teacher spots a student reaching into his schoolbag and says "Tom, you don't need your calculator for this!"
    3. On the first day of class, the teacher says "according to our school rules, we don't use calculators during tests."
     

    GeogeHalin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    In that context, because they are just about to start a test, the present and future tenses collide and become interchangeable. Just for comparison, here are a couple of examples where you don't have a choice:

    1. Before dismissing the students, the teacher says "remember, we are having a test tomorrow and you won't need your calculators."
    2. Halfway through the test, the teacher spots a student reaching into his schoolbag and says "Tom, you don't need your calculator for this!"
    3. On the first day of class, the teacher says "according to our school rules, we don't use calculators during tests."
    So the reason we can use present tense is not because we are talking about the tests, like "Whenever you do the test, we don't need a calculator to do it' (I'm thinking the test might always exist.) It's because of the reason you stare above? (highlighted)
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    Referring to Jerail's (1), (2), and (3):
    1. "Tomorrow" makes it preferable to use the future tense (even though "we are having" is formally in the present). But I wouldn't find "don't" wrong.
    2. Some of the "not needing" is before, and some is after, the moment of speech. So the future "won't" is not appropriate.
    3. A school rule is a timeless statement, true before and after the moment of speech, so, as in (2), the present tense is indicated.
     
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