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 Kirk,
Is this grammatically correct
'I should be here tomorrow also, if she made it to work tomorrow.'

Thank you.

Hello pamella,

No, I'm afraid it's not. I'm not really sure what you mean, but perhaps 'If she makes it to work tomorrow, I should also be here' would express what you mean?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much.

I have read this in newspaper :

It may not be an understatement to say that Pakistan may have an uphill task convincing the Security Council to declare India a 'state sponsor of terror', especially considering US President Donald Trump savagely called out Islamabad last month on the very issue it is accusing India of.

From the news report I understand that it is very difficult for Pakistan to convince that India sponsors terrorism . Then should it not be :

It may be an understatement ... rather than " It may not be an understatement .. " Because I understand that What report means is that saying that " Pakistan has uphill task" is also an understatement , then why it says" it may not be an understatement "

I hope I have put my question across.

Thanking you

I have been going through the questions I have asked and see that this question still remains unanswered. I don't know why.


Hi dipakrgandhi,

It's difficult for us to explain why other writers have phrased their sentences in the way they have. What I can say is that I understand the sentence in the same way as you do and that it also makes sense with 'may' instead of 'may not'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you!


I have read this in newspaper :

"This is expected to happen when an American delegation arrived in Islamabad next month for high-level talks"

Should it not be :
When an American delegation arrives ... or When an American delegation will have arrived ...
\Is it correct to say When an American delegation arrived ... . If yes , how ?

What do you say about the alternatives I have suggested ?

Thanking you.

Hello dipak,

Yes, you're right, 'arrived' doesn't make sense here. 'arrives' would be the most natural choice.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Which of these sentences is correct?
If John was going to joint Maria in flying the fast jets, it was crucial that he:
perform well in the preliminary course, or
performed well....