English Grammar

It's a little difficult to do that if you won't let me in.

Dear all, the question is not to be let or not in the apartment (what happened to Jean Marron who doesn't trust anyone anymore?) but is why the poor Joe has to beg in the future tense. Why doesn't he just say "if you don't let me in" instead of "if you won't let me in", knowing that it's now, right now, that "it's a little difficult to do that"?
Thank you for your explanation, even if Joe is already gone.


  • That's a very good question.

    Due to my experience, the negative future is a customary thing in these idiomatic expressions like
    "I won't let it get me down" or "I won't let you down".

    I've heard this dozens of times and I guess it aims at expressing that the final act of "getting me down" or "letting you down" is something that doesn't happen neither now nor wont't happen in the future. Hence, the depicted action refers predominantly to the future and has the meaning of a "prediction" (future), not of an action in progess (present continuous) or a fact or a habit (simple present).

    But, as an exception, if we stictly abided by the "conditional" rules, we would have to say:
    "If you don't let me in, it will be a little difficult to do that".
    But I guess that not colloquial and hardly noboby would say this in every-day life.
  • Thank you for trying, Goy, but I'm not sure to get you. Rather than a prediction, the sentance "if you won't let me in" sounds more like a condition because of IF. (You could say "it's a little difficult BUT I won't let you down", this is a nice prediction.)
    IF + future still amazes me.. Could that be an idiomatic way to speak? Does somebody know about that?
  • The only comment I found in my grammar is the following:

    In the case of realistic conditions:
    "If you can spare the time, please come to our garden party tomorrow"
    "Unless it's raining tomorrow, we'll have a barbecue."

    Present tense or can/must in the if-clause (subordinate clause) and will-future (often), imperative, present tense in the main clause.
    In the cas of hypothetical conditions:

    It would be very nice, if she would lay the table (= if she were willing to lay the table)

    No future in the if clause!

    But perhaps your "won't" uses "will" as a verb expressing willingness, intention, the will, and not the future.So your won't is present tense of the verb will, want.

    Please correct form and content.
  • That sounds good, thank you Freddie. You could be right, the point is probably of willness. Something like "will you open this damned door", "no I won't" in the double sense of I will not do it and/because I don't want to do it.
    Possible like this?
  • Hi Freddie the witty. You found out a trick to fix the issue, will indicating willingness. Why not?

    Nevertheless, I wonder if you are going a bit too far saying that "No future in the if clause!". According to a grammar released by Cambridge Univ. Press, IF ... WILL can be used in some particular cases, some of which don't seem to be a willingness in the modal verb WILL, such as

    ° when we talk about a result of something in the main clause;
    ~ Open a window if it will help you to sleep.

    ° in requests or with the meaning 'if you are willing to';
    ~ If you WILL take your seats, ladies and gentlemen, we can begin the meeting .

    ° in real conditional when we want to show that we disapprove of something. (In this cas, WILL is stressed is speech.)
    ~ A- I'm tired. B- Well, if you WILL go to bed so late, I'm not surprised.

    Now, last but no least, because it's the case at stake in the French Edelweiss question, we can use IF ... WON'T when we talk about a refusal to do something.
    ~ There is no point in trying to teach the class, if they won't pay attention.

    ~ It's a little difficult to do that if you won't let me in.
    ~ If you won't talk, dream.
    ~ I cannot tell the truth, if you won't let me talk.

    I admit that the modal verb WILL is often to be taken is the meaning of willingness, but not everytime, I think.

  • That's great Sandy, thank you! It's better than any book or other mediums, because the library has got no goods from the ferry-boat today, although the ship was comig regularly to the isle, but traffic on the mainland wasn't possible.
  • Crazy you are, Gwendo. Spending winter vacation in a North Frisian Island is a feat in itself. Good to you, you are not on the Sylt Island where you should take your stroll in the nude, it's no trifling matter with these cold weathers! Let me guess: you are in Föhr. (just because there is no causeway leading to Föhr and the ferry is the only link.) Is it right?
  • No, another try please!
  • My try: icy Iceland.

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