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The future – degrees of certainty

Do you know how to use phrases like will definitely, be likely to and probably won't to say how sure you are about future events?

Look at these examples to see how we can express different degrees of certainty about the future.

I'll definitely be at the meeting, don't worry.
She's likely to say yes if you ask nicely.
It probably won't rain later according to the weather forecast.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Grammar B1-B2: The future – degrees of certainty: 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

We can show how certain we are about the future by using modal verbs and other expressions.

Modal verbs and adverbs

We can use modal verbs (such as will, might, may or could) and adverbs (such as probably and definitely) to show how sure we are.

Very sure

People will definitely work from home more in the future.
Robots definitely won't replace all human jobs.

Sure

Donna will really enjoy this film.
You won't regret it.

Almost sure

We'll probably finish the project by tomorrow.
He probably won't have enough time.

Not sure

I might go to the party, but I'm not sure yet.
He hasn't studied much, so he might not pass the exam.

When you are not sure, we can also use may, could and may not. However, we don't usually use could not to talk about the future.

Other expressions

We can also use other expressions such as be bound to and be likely to, or verbs such as think and doubt.

Very sure

He's bound to feel nervous before his driving test.
She's certain to get that job!
He's certain that he'll get here on time.
There's no chance that we'll ever win the lottery.
There's no way that my boss will give me the day off. 

Sure

I'm sure that you'll do well in the interview.
Are you sure that you won't be available?

Almost sure

The government's likely to call an election soon.
Ali's unlikely to be invited to the party.
There's a good chance that it'll snow this week.
There's not much chance that I'll finish this essay tonight.
She thinks he'll be able to help.
I don't think we'll have petrol-based cars in the future.
I doubt they'll have any trouble finding the address.
What do you expect mobile phones will be like in ten years' time?

Not sure

There's a chance that she'll be back at work tomorrow.
There's a chance that he might come and visit us next week.
I think we might see more of these problems in the next few years.
I'm not sure that I'll be able to finish this pizza!

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Grammar B1-B2: The future – degrees of certainty: 2

Language level

Upper intermediate: B2

Comments

Hello, would you please explaine the usage ofuch + chance (singular) as in your example:
/There's not much chance that I'll finish this essay tonight./
Thanks in advance

Hello Staciii

This means the same thing as 'little chance'. The Longman Dictionary entry for 'chance' lists 'no chance', 'little chance' and 'not much chance' together (see the Adjectives section of the list of collocations).

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team