In She called me before dinner and said she _____ arrive home until eleven, so we don't need to wait for her---"wouldn't" or "won't" the OP and another user have challanged my answer as incorrect, although I have now provided several supporting sources. Can anyone look over my answer and indicate if I am correct or not, perhaps with a source if they think I am wrong? I do not want to provide incorrect answers, but when two posters think I am wrong, but give no source, it concerns me.

1 Answer 1


Your answer is wrong, unfortunately. It is correct to say that would is possible, but it is incorrect to say that will is wrong. The rule is that, because you are conveying information and not speech, the information can be oriented either to the time of the original speaker (here, would) or to that of the current listener/reporter (here, will). Both are fine.

You really don't need a reference here because native speakers are telling you that the sentence is grammatical. Native speakers don't always know about the grammar, what word is the subject and so forth, but if they tell you something's grammatical it is! (If they tell you it isn't grammatical, that's not so reliable because they may be adhering to some made up piece of prescriptive grammar that they don't adhere to in real life).

However, because you've asked, here is the relevant section from The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (p. 156–157):

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    Thank you, I will adjust the answer I gave. I cannot agree tht when a native speaker says that something is grammatical that is always correct. Often so, yes, but not always. But if many native speakers say so, and particularly if many fluent speakers actually use a construction, that very use proves that the construction is acceptable, even if it formerly was not. Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 19:10
  • @DavidSiegel Are you saying there are native speakers who aren’t fluent? Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 22:20
  • No I intend "fluent" speakers as a superset pf native speakers. That is, I am saying there are speakers who are not native but are still fluent, and whose usage also maters. Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 22:40
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    @DavidSiegel The grammar of a language consists of the patterns that are displayed in the speech of speakers of that language. That's what grammar is. So if speakers of that language say it, it is grammatical, it is grammatical! Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 22:47
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    true. But it does not follow that if one speaker says a construct is grammatical, or even if two do, it is. I couldn't say what the minimum bodt of users it takes to show that a form is grammatical, but I am sure it is higher than two. Commented Oct 5, 2021 at 0:02
  • @DavidSiegel If someone says "Hi, how are you?" in your language, you know that it's grammatical. You don't have to think about it. That's how language works! That's exactly how it is with your examples; they just make sense completely to a speaker of the language :) Commented Oct 5, 2021 at 0:04
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    The grammar of native speakers is not always impeccable. Have you never read "should of" instead of "should've"? Or what about "I've went ahead and sent your receipt"? I bet you a tenner them lot also repeat those "errors" in speech. :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 5, 2021 at 19:46
  • Saying that... english.stackexchange.com/a/112688/44619 this is a very good answer by Shoe themself. (Never been sure whether Shoe is a bloke)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 5, 2021 at 19:58
  • @Mari-LouA Well, it’s complicated see, because “of” is usually spelling and homophones not grammar (similar to how I’m always writing “your” instead of “you’re!), “them lot” Is about a different variety of English (so not speakers of the variety we’re usually interested in), haven’t looked at “they’ve went” yet. Will do a bit later. Commented Oct 5, 2021 at 20:17
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    Native speakers of my generation (1960s and 1970s) did not know anything about grammar, it was simply not taught. It was only when you had to study a foreign language or Latin that the role of grammar was understood.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 5, 2021 at 20:25
  • as for "have went" see english.stackexchange.com/questions/449476/…
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 5, 2021 at 20:27
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    I agree that "have went" and "them lot" belong to a different variety (not "standard" English), but how then was David Siegel to know whether the native speakers who questioned his judgement were standard English speakers or speakers of another variety? I think there might actually be native speakers who aren't fluent in "standard English" (as well as many who are fluent in both standard English and a local variety and can switch freely between the two). Should DS just assume, though, that a native speaker sufficiently interested in English to comment on ELL is a speaker of standard English?
    – rjpond
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 21:11
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    @rjpond Being a speaker of non-standard Englishes is not the same as being a speaker of a different language, in the sense that these speakers are usually intimately familiar with standard English as they are bombarded with it, write in it at school and work, read it continuously etc etc. So in answer to your last question, basically, yes! Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 21:20
  • @DavidSiegel I realise that it might sound as if I am making native speakers sound superior in some was to other fluent speakers of the language. So just to put the point in perspective, non-native speakers often have a way better understanding of the grammar and can explain better why something is the way it is. They may also be able to say that a sentence is grammatical or idiomatic when some native speaker thinks it isn't. For example, they may be more likely to notice and take not of what language they hear. Native speakers often say something is ungrammatical/unidiomatic if they ... Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 21:11
  • @DavidSiegel ... (cont) just haven't heard it before, (or don't remember having done so). This is often the case when there is some kind of regional difference in usage. So it's absolutely not the case that I think that non-native speakers cannot often have better insights or contributions than native speakers! (It was important to me to make that clear!) Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 21:13

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