The following sentences sound right to me:
The package arrives tomorrow. (The package is going to arrive tomorrow)
We leave for Hawaii tomorrow. (We are going to leave for Hawaii tomorrow)
But the following sound wrong to me:
We watch The Avengers tomorrow. (We are going to watch The Avengers tomorrow)
He likes it tomorrow. (He is going to like it tomorrow)
The house is demolished next week. (The house is going to be demolished next week)
I don’t understand why the second group sounds wrong. Is it because there is an object or adjective?
Is there a rule for when the present simple could be changed to indicate future time with only an adverb or preposition phrase?
The package arrives tomorrow.
We leave for Hawaii tomorrow.
We often use the present simple for scheduled events, events that appear on timetables, itineraries and calendars. In other words we use it for events whose occurrence is viewed as already firmly fixed for a specific time or date. This is why the sentences above are fine. When we use the present simple like this the time of the scheduled event is seen as important. In contrast,the following sentences sound a bit odd:
We watch The Avengers tomorrow.
He likes it tomorrow.
The house is demolished next week.
The reason for this is that watching a telly programme hardly sounds like a serious scheduled event. It’s more like a loose intention, and we don’t get the feeling that this has been ‘timetabled’ into the week. Similarly in the he likes it sentence, liking something is rarely if ever something that we can schedule. The last sentence also sounds a bit odd outside of a suitable context.
However, if we can provide a suitable context to show that these things have been scheduled, the sentences should sound much better:
- A: We have just two more television programmes to look at in our gender and media class before we move on to the graphic novels.
- B: Are we watching The Avengers today then?
- A: No, we watch The Avengers tomorrow. Breaking Bad is next week and then that’s it.
So, for the liking sentence we probably need someone insincere or devious who is going to schedule whether they appear to like something tomorrow. Ah, a politician, that should do it:
- A: So tomorrow we release a statement expressing Cameron’s disapproval of the project?
- B: No, tomorrow he likes it. On Wednesday we leak the information that it was funded with money from Gigburton. On Thursday morning we release the statement expressing Cameron’s scathing disapproval.
Lastly, the house scenario shouldn’t be too hard:
- So the cinema is set for demolition this Thursday; the house is demolished next week, and we lay the foundations for the new arcade after the Christmas break.
We can use the present simple for timetabled events in the future.