Talking about the Future

Sometimes we need to talk about our plans, wishes, & arrangements that have not happened yet and are related to the future.

"Talking about the Future" in the English Grammar

How to Talk about the Future?

In the English language, there are several ways to talk about the future using different tenses and auxiliaries. However, grammarians often claim that the future is not a tense, but a moode. Let's see how we can talk about the future in English:

Plans and Arrangements

  1. Present continuous (definitely going to happen)
  2. going to (it's planned but maybe it won't happen)

When we want to talk about plans, we can use the Present Continuous tense. The 'present continuous' tense is mostly used to talk about what is happening now. However, when we want to talk about the future instead of the present we should use a future time expression. Compare these examples:

I am making lasagna. → present time → this is happening at the moment of speaking

I am making lasagna tomorrow night. → future → this is what the speaker is going to do tomorrow night

You can also use the form 'be going to' without any difference in the meaning of the sentence.

I'm going to make lasagna.

She's going to buy a car.

Do not generally use the simple future to talk about plans and arrangements. The best way to talk about plans is with the future with going to and arrangements is with present continuous.

Someday, I will learn how to sing! → Someday, I am going to learn how to sing!

I will see my dermatologist tomorrow morning. → I'm seeing my dermatologist tomorrow morning.

Spontaneous Decisions

  • future with will

We use 'will' to talk about spontaneous decisions decided at the moment of speaking.

Wait here. I'll go get some help.

I forgot to call my boyfriend. I'll do it after dinner.

We do not use 'going to' and the 'present continuous' structures to talk about decisions. Do not use 'will' to talk about future plans that have already been decided. Let's compare these sentences:

I'm wearing that dress tonight. → I've made a planned decision to definitely wear that dress tonight.

I'm going to wear that dress tonight. → I've made a planned decision to wear that dress tonight.

I'll wear that dress tonight. → I just decided right now to wear that dress tonight.

Timetables and Schedules

  1. simple present (officially announced timetables)
  2. be going to (un-official timetables)

When we want to talk about timetables, schedules, etc. we use the Simple Present tense, for example when we want to talk about times at which buses, trains, planes arrive and leave, movie times, classes, etc.

My algebra class starts on Tuesday.

The plane to Moscow leaves at 7:15.

When using present simple we must remember that we are talking about an officially decided and announced schedule. The present simple tense is commonly used for this purpose. However, when we are talking about a timetable or arrangement that we ourselves have made, we can use 'be going to'.

We are going to leave at 6:00.


  1. simple future with will (general predictions)
  2. be going to (predictions based on existing evidence)

Using Future with 'Going to' to Talk about Predicting the Future

But, sometimes when we want to predict something about the future, it is not based on facts. We are only making subjective personal predictions based on our intuition or what we believe. In this case, use 'will' instead of 'be going to.' Check out the examples:

If you go on an African Safari, you will probably see hippos.

Stop worrying about the wedding. It will be fine. You'll look great.

When we want to predict the future based on evidence and facts, we use 'be going to.' For example:

Marta is pregnant. They're going to have a baby.

Look at all these dark clouds in the sky, I think it's going to rain.

Promises & Offers

  • simple future with will

It is possible to use 'will' to talk about things that we are able or free to do in the very near future. Look at the examples:

I hope they will agree with my suggestion.

Of course I will help you.

I'll call him to make sure. → I'll do it right away.

We use 'will' when we are making offers or suggestions. For example:

Are you tired? I will make you a cup of tea.

Do you need that? I will buy it for you.

Kevin will help with the cleaning.

To ask questions in a polite but more casual way, say: Will you + simple verb + ...?

Will you marry me?

Will you please answer the phone?

Ongoing Actions at Some Point in the Future

  • future continuous

The Future Progressive is a form of the verb that shows the action will be in progress at a certain point, or at some time period, in the future.

Just to confirm, the waiter will be bringing up your dinner to your room at 8:00 p.m.

Just to make sure, we'll be delivering you a pizza in one hour.

He'd better fix my broken LCD, or he'll be hearing from me!

No doubt, I'll be posting a negative review about this hotel!

If you wait one more hour, I'll be driving you home. I promise.

If he starts being rude, we'll be leaving that place. I swear.

Ongoing Actions That Will Continue up until Some Time in the Future

  • future perfect
  • future perfect continuous

If you want to talk about what you will have done by a certain time in the future or something that will be finished by a certain time, you can use the future perfect. Look at the examples:

By the time you read this, I will have left.

You will have finished your report by this time next week.

The future perfect can also be used when you want to talk about your dreams or things you wish you will have done or experienced by the end of a certain period. Here are the examples:

After this trip, we will have been to 4 different places.

After this job, you will have earned so much money.

I hope that, by the end of this year, I'll have met the love of my life.

The Future Perfect continuous is a form of the verb that shows the action will continue up until some time in the future.

When I leave my office, I will have been working for 2 hours.

They will have been walking for 2 hours by the time they get home.


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