Well, I don’t know. I’m not a fortune teller.
But I hope you will be very happy, as much as possible, and that you’ll have fantastic English.
This article is about the various ways that you can say something in the future in English.
As you know, English has different tenses for past, present and future.
Believe it or not, you can use four different tenses for the future:
This is the most basic kind of future.
You only need to know two things about this kind of future:
a Use will + the basic verb (V1). More info about basic verbs or infinitives here.
b You can use will + verb for anything you want to do or anything that you think might happen in the future. You can also use will + verb for promises.
I will read that report once more tonight.
So this means that reading the report is what I’ll do tonight, because I offer to do it. (I want to do it. Nobody told me to do it.) At the same time, it’s also a promise that I will do this.
a Use going to with a basic verb (V1).
b If you want to make it clear that this is what is going to happen because you planned it that way, you use going to + verb.
If you think that something will happen, you can also use going to.
I’m going to the shops.
Where Will and Going To are the Same
So to sum up, for something that you expect to happen, you can use both will and going to.
It will probably rain this afternoon.
Is it going to rain this afternoon?
There isn’t any difference in meaning.
Future using the present progressive tense (or continuous).
Now you are saying something in the present progressive or continuous but you’re talking about some action that is going to take place in the future.
a Use a form of to be in the present + the main verb ending in –ing (am/is/are + V1-ing).
b The meaning is similar to the future with going to, but more definite. When you use the present progressive you plan to do something at a definite day, time or place.
We’re meeting in front of the theatre.
She’s visiting her parents this weekend.
Future Continuous or Progressive.
a The form of this is, as the name says, will + a verb with –ing.
But you can’t put a verb with –ing after will, so that’s why we put in be.
So the form looks like this: will + be + V1-ing.
Such as: will be going, will be having, will be seeing, etc.
b You use this tense when you want to talk about something in the future that is very sure to happen, because it’s already fixed and organized.
I’ll be seeing you tomorrow then.
Difference Between Present Continuous (Progressive) and the Future Continuous (Progressive)
Let’s compare the present continuous (progressive) and the future continuous (progressive) for a moment.
Can you think with me what the difference in meaning is between these two sentences?
A The plane is boarding at 4 o’clock.
B The plane will be boarding at 4 o’clock.
A explains the plan, B explains what is sure to happen.
Now do you think you know everything there is to know about the future tense?
Yes, because I told you there are four future tenses.
Here is a quick table to recap:
|Simple Future||Will + V1||Something you want, promise, belief/expectation.|
|Future with Going to||Going to + V1||Definite plans, strong intention, belief/expectation|
|Present Progressive (Continuous)||Am/is/ar + V1-ing||Plan for a day, time or place|
|Future Progressive (Continuous)||Will + be + V1-ing||100% sure|
That’s not all!
There are some more possibilities to say things about the future.
First of all, as you know, not everything is sure in life.
So you can use modals + V1 to express that something is possible in the future.
You can use can, could, may, might, and would for this.
It could rain this afternoon.
It might rain this afternoon.
I would help you if I had more time.
The past in the future
a Use the past progressive for this with going to. The form goes like this: was/were + going to + V1.
b Use this when you were on your way to doing something in the past.
I was going to call her when she phoned me already.
a The form is, as the name says, a combination of will + has/have + V3.
b You use this tense when you want to talk about something in the future as if it has already happened.
Tomorrow at 2 o’clock I will have passed that difficult test.
(I’m imagining that the test is already behind me.)
A variation of 7 is
Future Perfect Progressive
Can English tenses become any more nightmarish?
a Now you’re combining almost all of the possible tenses. Use will + has/have + been + V1-ing.
Please note that you need been to connect the perfect tense with the verb ending in –ing.
b What possible use can this tense have? Like future perfect it talks about something in the future that has already happened, but it’s a longer action. So you’re talking about something in the future that is behind you and it’s taking longer.
The committee will have been sitting on this case for three full weeks counting from Monday.
You may ask whether people actually use this tense? Sure.
Well, these really are all the different tenses that I can think of that you can use to talk about the future.
There are two more possibilities to talk about the future. Neither has anything to do with tenses, however:
- You can use passives instead of actives.
- You can also use words like likely, foresee and expect, and phrases like “it seems likely that” for things you see in the future.
So I’ll leave you with this, and now you can attempt the quiz.
Future Tenses Quiz
Determine whether the following people use correct forms of the future, or not.
This quiz is very hard. Just saying.
1 Alban doesn’t understand politics, so he says: “The extremist Esperanto-advocating Party is going to win the elections.” Is Alban using correct grammar?
2 Lila wants to catch her 5:07 train, so she says: “I must go. My train will be leaving the station at about 5 pm.” Great grammar or strange?
3 Rich is putting the kettle on to make tea when you arrive. He says: “The water will be boiling in a minute.” Great grammar or strange?
4 Rosie is annoyed because she lost her pen again. She says: “I’m going to stop lending my pen to anyone who asks for it.” Is Rosie using going to in the correct way?
5 Stefanie is determined to put a stop to her current lack of work. What sounds more determined for her to say?
“I will find a job on Monday morning.”
“I’m going to find a job on Monday morning.”
6 One week later, Stefanie has her first interview. She doesn’t discuss money in the interview. She tells her Mum: “I will be making 3K in my new job.” Is this correct for her to say or not?
7 The bunch of roses on the table look a bit wilted. Almost time to throw them away. So I say: “The roses are keeping only until noon tomorrow.” Am I using correct grammar or not?
8 Brett asks his friend to read a story he has written. Jon says: “No problem, I promise I am going to read it this weekend.” Is Jon using the right kind of future or not?
9 Lee and Pandora are at the airport. They hear the following announcement. “Flight no. 101 is boarding in an hour.” Pandora suggests they go for a coffee. Lee says: “We don’t have time for coffee. Our plane is boarding!” Who is right: Pandora or Lee?
Want to practise more future? There are some older quizzes here: