This article reflects on a double interpretation of English constructions containing the combined expression will have to. As I will show, illocutions involving sentences of the type ‘NP will have to VP’ can be interpreted as either (i) predicting future enforcing circumstances that trigger a future obligation or (ii) reporting such circumstances as currently in force at speech time. Once I sketch the different semantic elements at play in a Kratzerian framework, I cast doubt on some current views on the so-called modal–tense interaction. As I will show, one way to fully account for the availability of both readings is by assuming a semantic temporal underspecification as to when the triggering circumstances in the conversational background are initially in force. This raises important theoretical caveats for semantic analyses in the field, particularly for those that equate the semantics of the future with prediction. As the article shows, such a widespread assumption can be contended by a dynamic account of obligational ascriptions, according to which their different illocutionary forces can be derived from the contextual change potential of its primitive (and admittedly underspecified) future semantics. Ultimately, the paper voices support for the view that future semantics must not be equated with prediction.
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