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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


Talking about the future 2


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.


Hello zagrus,

That is certainly a possible sentence, provided it is used in an appropriate context. It would be an example of the present continuous form used for arranged futures, such as when a teacher has set a quiz for the class. However, in other contexts other future forms can be used.

I hope that answers your question.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team


Could you please help me with "tomorrow was ...." . It is the extract from ''New Yorkers Short Stories''.
[...] ''Delia stopped crying and she washed her face. She
stood by the window, and looked out at a grey cat on a
grey wall in the grey road. Tomorrow was Christmas
Day, and she had only one dollar and eighty-seven
cents to buy Jim a Christmas present.''

Many thanks!

This is a story written in the past tense. Usually when 'tomorrow' is reported in a past context, we would say 'the next day'. This has more impact and is a stylistic choice in my opinion.

Hi Muszkatel,

If this text were non-fiction, an expression like "the next day" would most likely be used instead of "tomorrow" in this sentence. In fiction, however, writers use the language that they think will best convey the meaning they wish to express.

In this case, the use of "tomorrow" helps the reader relate more directly to Delia's experience by making the arrival of Christmas and the limited resources she has to buy Jim a present seem more imminent.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

All correct! Good job!

why can't I say "I'm driving to work today" instead of "I'm going to drive to work today" or what's the difference of these two statements?
"They are moving to Manchester next week" is once they have bought a house and "They are going to move to Manchester next week" is when they have a plan to move there next week. Am I right???
Please clearly tell me the differences between "I'm doing" and "I'm going to do" as it is confusing in some places.
Thank you for your support...

I'm driving to work today
it is present continous sentense (means you are in state of action,driving)
"I'm going to drive to work today"
it is your plane which you are telling to someone before starting, 
if anybody thinks it is wrong please clear me.

No, I think you're right . That's the difference between Present Continous and be going to.

In terms of grammar, what's the difference between the following two sentences? To me, they sound the same....
> I will call you when my lesson finishes.
> I will call you when my lesson is finished.

Hello TB01!
The meaning is very similar.
The grammar difference is that the first sentences uses present simple, while the second sentence uses present simple be verb + an -ed adjective
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team