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Suppose person #1 says that he's soon going to Athens and will visit the Acropolis. Person #2 replies: "That's great! But you want to go early in the day before the heat builds ... and before the tourists overrun the place."

Easier question: Is person's #2's line supposed to be "You want to ..." or "You'll want to ..."? (Or does it work either way?)

Harder question: What kind of a statement is #2's statement anyway? It's not a prediction (I guess). It just doesn't seem to fit into the normal pattern of past, present, and future for verbs. (As in "You went early," "You're going early" and "You will go early", where a person's going early is some event that's located in the past, the present, or the future.)

--SirTas
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Easier question: Is person's #2's line supposed to be "You want to ..." or "You'll want to ..."? (Or does it work either way?)

My reasonably educated instincts say "either way."


Harder question: What kind of a statement is #2's statement anyway?

ADVICE, silly! ;-)


sheila
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Easier question: Is person's #2's line supposed to be "You want to ..." or "You'll want to ..."? (Or does it work either way?)

Harder question: What kind of a statement is #2's statement anyway? It's not a prediction (I guess). It just doesn't seem to fit into the normal pattern of past, present, and future for verbs. (As in "You went early," "You're going early" and "You will go early", where a person's going early is some event that's located in the past, the present, or the future.)


Either one works.

One definition of the word "want" is "should or need to do something," therefore this is, indeed, advice.

But if #2 says "You want to," it is present tense.

If #2 says "You will want to," it is future perfect tense.

IMHO

MOI
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"You want to ..." or "You'll want to ..."

I'd opt in favor of "But you should go early in the day before the heat builds ..."

~aj
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I thought this question was interesting, so I sent it to one of linguists at LanguageLog, which I read every day, and much to my surprise and pleasure, he responded:

It may confuse things that the example uses "you want" in the old sense that refers to requirements rather than desires. The same questions come up if we phrase the same advice in another way, e.g. "It's better to go early in the day" vs. "It'll be better to go early in the day".

And the answer to the first question, it seems to me, is that it depends on what you mean. The "present-tense" versions are generic, i.e. timeless, while the versions with "will" make a somewhat more time-specific statement. There's not much difference in this case, since the generic statement is implicitly constrained to relevant times, and it's obvious in context that the relevant time is the period of person #1's visit to Greece. But my impression is that the generic versions of such advice are a bit politer, due to being vaguer.

As for the second question, I don't think there's much of a mystery. "Present tense" morphology is routinely used in English, as in many other languages, for generic statements, which are timeless or at least true at all contextually relevant times. And generic statements are often used to be give advice or to make advice-like predictions.

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The prase bolded in the above is actually a link to another Language Log entry: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001571.html which is both relevant and amusing.
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