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
- Present continuous (definitely going to happen)
- 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:
You can also use the form 'be going to' without any difference in the meaning of the sentence.
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.
how to sing! → Someday, I am
my dermatologist tomorrow morning. → I
- future with will
We use 'will' to talk about spontaneous decisions decided at the moment of speaking.
Wait here. I
I forgot to call my boyfriend. I
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:
Timetables and Schedules
- simple present (officially announced timetables)
- 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
The plane to Moscow
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'.
- simple future with will (general predictions)
- be going to (predictions based on existing evidence)
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
Stop worrying about the wedding. It
When we want to predict the future based on evidence and facts, we use 'be going to.' For example:
Marta is pregnant. They
Look at all these dark clouds in the sky, I think it
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
Of course I
We use 'will' when we are making offers or suggestions. For example:
Are you tired? I
Do you need that? I
To ask questions in a polite but more casual way, say: Will you + simple verb + ...?
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
Just to make sure, we
He'd better fix my broken LCD, or he
No doubt, I
If you wait one more hour, I
If he starts being rude, we
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
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
After this job, you
I hope that, by the end of this year, I
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.