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Grammar: tenses that follow the conjunction ‘once’ when we’re referring to a future event

Once + simple present or present perfect?  

This is what the Cambridge dictionary says about ‘once’ as a conjunction:

‘Once as a conjunction

We use once as a conjunction meaning ‘as soon as’ or ‘after’:

Once I’ve picked Megan up, I’ll call you.

My boss is a nice man once you get to know him.

We don’t use shall or will in the clause with once:

Once I pass all my exams, I’ll be fully qualified.’

I notice that users of English as a second language rarely use the present perfect with ‘once’.

Which of the following are correct? Which are not standard usage and why? Cambridge doesn’t explain why one sentence uses the present perfect and the other the simple present. Do you know?

Examples from students’ writing:

1 Once it is reviewed by one of our internal editors, it is sent to the technical unit.

2 Once the report is ready, we will send it to the printers.

3 I will let you know once confirmed.

If it is a future completed action, we use the present perfect.

If it is a future state, we use the present.

Answer key

1 Once it has been reviewed by one of our internal editors, it is sent to the technical unit.

We focus on the completed action and the verb ‘review’ implies action, so present perfect (we need to finish the action of reviewing before sending it).

2 Correct, as a state. To use the present perfect, we would use a different action verb: Once the report has been finished, we will send it to the printers.

3 Correct, and if unpacked, could be either.

I will let you know once it has been confirmed / once it is confirmed. (the first is an action; the second is a completed action = a state).

________________________________________________
Carol Waites (PhD)
Email: carolswritingtips@gmail.com
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Presentation/editing by Christina O’Shaughnessy (editor)
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