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Talking about the future

Level: intermediate

When we know about the future, we normally use the present tense.

1. We use the present simple for something scheduled:

We have a lesson next Monday.
The train arrives at 6.30 in the morning.
The holidays start next week.
It's my birthday tomorrow.

2. We can use the present continuous for plans or arrangements:

I'm playing football tomorrow.
They are coming to see us tomorrow.
We're having a party at Christmas.

3. We use will:

  • when we express beliefs about the future:

It will be a nice day tomorrow.
I think Brazil will win the World Cup.
I'm sure you will enjoy the film.

  • to mean want to or be willing to:

I hope you will come to my party.
George says he will help us.

  • to make offers and promises :

I'll see you tomorrow.
We'll send you an email.

  • to talk about offers and promises:

Tim will be at the meeting.
Mary will help with the cooking.

4. We use be going to:

  • to talk about plans or intentions:

I'm going to drive to work today.
They are going to move to Manchester.

  • to make predictions based on evidence we can see:

Be careful! You are going to fall(= I can see that you might fall.)
Look at those black clouds. I think it's going to rain(= I can see that it will rain.)

5. We use will be with an -ing form for something happening before and after a specific time in the future:

I'll be working at eight o'clock. Can you come later?
They'll be waiting for you when you arrive.

6. We can use will be with an -ing form instead of the present continuous or be going to when we are talking about plans, arrangements and intentions:

They'll be coming to see us next week.
I'll be driving to work tomorrow.

7. We often use verbs like would like, plan, want, mean, hope, expect to talk about the future:

What are you going to do next year? I'd like to go to university.
We plan to go to France for our holidays.
George wants to buy a new car.

8. We use modals may, might and could when we are not sure about the future:

I might stay at home tonight or I might go to the cinema.
We could see Mary at the meeting. She sometimes goes.

9. We can use should if we think there's a good chance of something happening:

We should be home in time for tea.
The game should be over by eight o'clock.

Talking about the future 1

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Talking about the future 2

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The future in time clauses and if-clauses 

In time clauses with words like when, after, until we often use present tense forms to talk about the future:

I'll come home when I finish work.
You must wait here until your father comes.
They are coming after they have had dinner.

In clauses with if we often use present tense forms to talk about the future:

We won't be able to go out if it is raining.
If Barcelona lose tomorrow, they will be champions.

 

Be careful!
We do not normally use will in time clauses and if-clauses:

I'll come home when I finish work. (NOT will finish work)
We won’t be able to go out if it rains(NOT will rain)

but we can use will if it means want to or be willing to:

I will be very happy if you will come to my party.
We should finish the job early if George will help us.

Comments

Hello Kim Hui-jeong,

I think this question will be best answered on the basis of concrete examples rather than general statements. Are there any sentences you have come across which you would like to ask about? If you have two or three examples then we'll be happy to comment on them and use them to highlight any relevant rules or tendencies.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Could you tell me whether these sentences below are grammatically correct in the tenses of the subordinate clauses? I'm curious about exactly when to use the present tense that refers to the future in dependant clauses. I already know that the present tense must be used in some cases of time/place/condition clauses and relative clauses. But I'm not sure if I must use the present tense in some cases of situation/case clauses(or other clauses) and appositive clauses. I would be really grateful if you helped me. I've been very confused ever since I first encountered the present tense used like this.

"We have gotten an opportunity that we borrow the gym."

"He will be in a situation that he is surrounded by a gang."

(I think I've seen sentences like these. But I'm not sure exactly when to use the tense.)

Hello Sir,
Sir, what is the difference between these sentences.
1. We plan to go to France for our holidays.
2. We have planned to go to France for our holidays.

Thanks

Hello Amit shukla,

The first sentence is fine. It talks about what the speaker intends to do in the future.

The second sentence does not seem very natural to me. If the plan is still current then you would use a present simple form like in the first sentence. If the plan is not currect then you would use a past simple form: We planned to go to France for our holidays... but then our plans changed

 

You could use have planned in a different context:

We have planned the first part of the journey, now we need to plan the second part.

Here, plan is used not to mean 'intend' as in your example but rather to mean 'prepare'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

I would like to know if there is a sentence, with a decision that involves planning, in going to future in this paragraph (specifically 'I am going to wait for the CDC advisory to be lowered'). If so could you provied me with an explanation as to why.

*As antsy as I am to get back on the road, I’m waiting until these advisories have been lifted before I consider non-essential travel again. For domestic air travel, I’m going to wait for the CDC advisory to be lowered. For international travel, I’ll be waiting for both the U.S. State Department and the destination country’s health department to lower advisories.*

Thank you.

Nina Z.

Hello Nina Z.

The sentence you ask about (with 'going to wait') sounds like a plan to me. I don't know what exactly the person is thinking, but it sounds as if they want or need to travel, and plan to wait until the restrictions are lifted before doing it.

Does that help?

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

What is the different between in two sentance
1.i am going to America tomorrow
2.i am going to go America tomorrow

Hello Daniel smith141,

Your first sentence uses the present continuous form (be going to). This tells us that the action is something that has been arrranged in advance. For example, the speaker may have made reservations, bought tickets and so on.

Your second sentence uses the going to future form (be going to + verb, which describes plans or intentions. It tells us that the speaker has thought about the trip before and is not making a decision at the time of speaking. It does not tell us whether the speaker has arranged anything about the trip but only that the decision was made some time earlier. Note that there is a mistake in this sentence: you need to say ...go to America... and not just ...go America...

 

The sentences are a little confusing because the main verb is go. which is the same verb used in the going to form. If you change the main verb then the difference is easier to see:

I am travelling to American tomorrow. [present continuous]

 

I am going to travel to America tomorrow. [going to]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I've tried to correct the grammar in this statement of my friend, I would like to ask some help if I made it right.

[friend's statement]
I'll do some job first
Then if I had saved enough money,
I will go to school.

[my correction]
I am gonna do some job first
Then if I save enough money, I am going to school.

Hello Milca_Joy,

I think take would be better than do in this context. You could say do some jobs, but that does not necessarily mean getting paid for them.

In the first sentence both will and going to are possible. It depends upon whether this is a plan or a decision made at the time of speaking. If the person has thought about this before then going to is better.

In the second sentence had saved is not correct; save is fine. You could also change if to when if the speaker is sure that they will have enough money at some point.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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