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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

Hi Jeremy!
" I'm sorry, Tom, this item is out of stock"..... Is this sentence grammatically incorrect(as I have used a comma after the name, instead of a full stop)? Some of the people I know are saying it is incorrect. I know it's a silly question, but I would like to confirm what I think.(I don't think the sentence is grammatically incorrect.)
Regards
Adiy.

I think there must be a full stop after the name. It seems grammatically better.

Thanks Jeremy,
Tom

hello all ! have a nice day ! sorry to bother you programers ! it's confusing . when we talk about the future , we can use "the present continuous sense " but reason why i can say : " we're having a party tomorrow " but is wrong when say : " i am having a party tomorrow " and it is right when say :" i am staying tomorrow ". what's wrong ?  maybe it has the special cases that i don't know .please help me !  thank you very much .  regards !

Hello louder!
 
I'm not sure this is to do with present continuous tense! Some people might say that using "I" sounds a bit strange in "I am having a party tomorrow", because normally there are a lot of people at a party, but it's certainly not wrong:
A: I'm having a party tomorrow. Do you want to come? 
B: Sure, I'd love to!
 
Who told you it was wrong?
 
Regards
 
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team
 

i have heard many people and even some teachers in my country who is not a native english said that you only can use present continuous tense to talk about the future when verb is "action verb" such as : move , go , come....  .
for example :
"i'm moving to the new flat tomorrow " (action verb : move )  it's right !
"i'm staying home tomorrow" or " i'm having a party tomorrow " ( not action verb : stay and have ) it's wrong !
i dont understand reasons why it appear this way . maybe they're wrong or has certain similar reason  that i don't know . 
so what's wrong with all of them ?
have a nice day
thank you !

Hello Louder,
I see nothing at all wrong with saying 'I'm having a party tomorrow.' This isn't a rule that I would take seriously!
There is a rule connected with stative verbs which says that we don't usually use them with continuous forms. However, stative verbs are words like 'know' and 'hate' and 'hear' used to describe opinions, feelings, senses etc. rather than actions. So it's a different definition of types of verbs from the one you heard. Also, it applies to all continuous forms and the rule you heard is about present continuous to talk about the future. So there are two big differences between these rules!
Best wishes,
Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi everybody. I'm new member and like this website. )) I persuade we'll help each other in here. 
 Best wishis,
              Ann Bekoshvili (:

good afternoon ,
   I want to know in depth about in which contexts we can use present tense when  we are dealing with past things...............

Hello DG_ENGLISH!
 
A good place to start would be looking at our page on the present tense, not our page about the future! There is an exercise on that page to practice the uses of the present tense when talking about the past. If you have a look at the comments on that page, you'll see several other students have asked about this too - have a look at the replies!
 
Regards
 
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

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