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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!
Can we say like this, 'This work will be done by night'. If so, then why we didn't use "do" in a sentence because I'm talking about simple future tense and so the verb do will be used.

Hello Sidra_

'will be done' is not just in the simple future, it is also a passive verb. Please follow the link and I think the explanation there will clear it up for you. Please don't hesitate to ask if not.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello teachers

We often use present simple tense to mean future events which are very unlikely to change such as:
- Our plane departs at 6:45. (instead of "will depart")
- Don't be late! The meeting starts at 13:00. (instead of "will start")

My students asked me whether it is also right to say:
- My father is retirement age next year.
- I am seventeen years old next month.
They thought these are also unchangeable future events. In my feeling, of course, it should be more suitable to use "will be" in both cases instead of "is/am" and I usually hear such phrases in a conversation. But I just want to ask native speakers whether these two sentences are really unnatural, and if so, why they sounds unfeasible.

Thanks in advance

Hello Ysato201602

As I understand it, the present simple is used to speak about scheduled events, i.e. events that you could find on a timetable that is available to the public. Although I can see how, in a sense, birthdays are on a timetable, it is not correct to use the present simple in either of the sentences your students asked about.

I'm impressed, however, that your students had such a question -- it shows they are really thinking about the grammar!

Best wishes to you and your students

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

hello sir
how can i write a task about " What will your life be like when you’re 70?"

Hello aaaaa

Do you mean which verb forms should you use?

When you are speaking about plans that you have for your life, the best form is probably 'to be going to' (e.g. 'I'm going to travel to Mongolia when I'm 70'). When you are making predictions, that is, when you don't have a plan but you are supposing what you will do, you could use 'will' for discrete actions (e.g. 'I won't go to work every morning') or 'might' or 'may' for ones you are less sure about. You could use the future continuous for actions that happen over a longer period of time (e.g. 'I'll be living in a small fishing village on the coast of the Adriatic').

Does that give you some ideas?

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello

Can I use -Will in a relative clause after future time clause in a case like this:
When you join the group, that will study intensively, be ready to work hard.

Hello Anna Bo,

Yes, you can use will in this way. You are creating a relative clause within the sentence. If the relative clause is defining (i.e. it identifies the group) then you can use that as the relative pronoun. In this case, no commas are needed. However, if the relative clause is non-defining (i.e. it provides extra, non-essential, information) then you cannot use that but must use a different relative pronoun (who or which) or a relative adverb (whenwhere or why).

In your sentence you need to decide if the relative clause is intended to identify which group you are talking about (in which case you need to remove the commas) or if you are simply providing additional interesting information (in which case you need to replace that with which).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for the answer.

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