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Is this grammatically questionable???

(15 Posts)
emsyj Thu 07-Jul-11 21:27:14

I may be clutching at straws here....

Something that happened at work today has prompted my first ever visit to Pedants' Corner. An irritating new colleague at work reviewed one of my letters and changed 'X is currently away from the office and will return on 20th July' to 'X is currently away from the office and will be returning on 20th July'.

Is it correct to say 'will be returning' when in fact he will only return once, as a one-off, and won't be doing it for a continuous period?

<runs away in fear of extensive criticism of own post>

fastweb Thu 07-Jul-11 21:47:09

It's the future continuous and can be used for interruption, so if you view it as the return interrupting the being away, it expresses that function.

Will is used for a spontaneous decision "What if you miss the bus ?", "Errr, I'll run to the station and get the last train".

So in informal writing I'd want to see "he is coming back" to express an arrangement, cos presumably he has a ticket.

Formal register however has different conventions, and the use of will to subsitute going to or PC for the future is common.

I'm not a pendant though, just a TEFLer who spends her life trying to wean people off will.

<also scarpers cos I'm convinced I have commited crimes against the comma in the above>

emsyj Thu 07-Jul-11 21:55:37

Does that mean I can criticise him or not? confused
He really is very annoying...

Letter was from a solicitor (me) to a nursing home where a mentally incapable client lives... So should be formal.

fastweb Thu 07-Jul-11 21:58:04

Realization dawns.

Will - announcement function, that's probably why formal business English uses will in place of going to\PC for the future.

"The Queen will see you now"

"Big Boss will return among us on the 28th"

I guess the business world adopted it because it gives a whiff of elevated status to the person referred to.

emsyj Thu 07-Jul-11 22:00:37

Ah, what the hell - I'll criticise him anyway! I am too angry to stop myself. Grrrrr!!!!!!!!!

fastweb Thu 07-Jul-11 22:09:28

Does that mean I can criticise him or not?

Of course.

Both are correct, he didn't need to change yours. You could claim yours was "better" because it complied with the convention to underline the leaders status by announcing his movements rather than telling people what his plans were.

So if he is annoying make him feel like a bit of a tit by blinding him with dazzling words like "function" and "register". grin

emsyj Thu 07-Jul-11 22:23:49

Good plan! He really is an utter nobber.


Selks Thu 07-Jul-11 22:25:21

I think you should change his 'out of office' when he goes away as well......"X is out of the office and is back on xx, so you can sod off till then"


fastweb Fri 08-Jul-11 07:03:50

leader's status even

prism Sat 09-Jul-11 09:23:05

I think your version is much more sensible as it says exactly what you want to say. To say that X "will be returning on 20th of July" does not actually tell anyone how long it will take X to get back. If I go to Australia and decide to walk back I may well "be returning" on the 20th of July but not actually arrive for months. So the use of the future continuous in this context is pointless, and is less clear than the way you put it originally.

fastweb Sat 09-Jul-11 09:31:40

Prism is right.

The FC in this context lacks clarity in the sense that it doesn't automatically convey the idea that boss will be at work and ready to talk to people on the 20th. It can be read as suggesting that he will be in transit on the 20th rather than at work. Or only available for the latter part of the day.

It's "fuzzier" than will return.

emsyj Sat 09-Jul-11 09:56:14

Excellent, lots of ammunition here.

I have made a bet with DH that the annoying new guy will quit by Christmas. God, I hope he does...

treefiddy Wed 19-Oct-11 20:00:20

Is that "she will return" or "she shall return"?

Jux Wed 19-Oct-11 21:04:15

I was wondering about 'shall' too.

nickelbabe Thu 20-Oct-11 10:45:46

I would put "shall return" like tree said.

It is superfluous and unnecessary to put "will be returning"
and annoying.

"will" expresses intent, or that something's might happen if something else doesn't, and is moveable, therefore, if you are definitely going to return, and you have every intention of doing so, and that it's a promise that you are going to, then the correct way of putting the sentence is:
"X is currently away from the office and shall return on 20th July"

It annoys me intenssely that so many people have forgotten the word "shall" exists.

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