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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 again Shaban Nafea

Both are grammatically correct. In a specific context, the second one could be better, but in general the first is probably better. It depends on the context and what you mean.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, how would you complete this sentences:

'Tell me what the problem is. I will be able to help you' or 'I might be able to help you'.

Thank you

Hello Graziella

That depends on the situation and what you want to say. The one with 'will' would make sense when you are sure that you can help the other person and the one with 'might' would make sense when you are not sure that you can help. So both can be correct -- it depends on what you mean.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hallo Sir,
Could u please tell me which sentence is correct
1. They will finish the roof by Tuesday.
2. They'll have finished the roof by Tuesday.
And what is the reason?

Thank you,

Hello Risa warysha,

Both sentences are grammatically possible and have essentially the same meaning. I would say the first might suggest that the work will end more or less on Monday, while the second is a little broader and implies that it may be done earlier, but that Tuesday is the latest possible end date. However, I can't think of a context in which you would not be able to use either.



The LearnEnglish Team


I'll come home when I finish work.
They are coming after they have had dinner.
Why in the first sentence we use "will" and in the second one we use "be+-ing"?
both seem the same to me

Hello InmaLD,

The choice of future is dependent here on how the speaker sees the situation. In the first example we have something like a promise. The speaker is telling the other person what they have decided to do (come home) once a certain condition (finish work) is fulfilled. In the second example, the speaker is describing an arrangement that has been made between the speaker and the peope who are coming to dinner.

Grammatically, you could use 'will' in the second sentence, but it would change the meaning of the sentence and mean that the speaker was guessing or predicting behaviour rather that talking about something they had arranged together.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi again,
in an English course book we have the following sentence:
#I spoke to aunt Larry and Dad.
as i knew the word "Dad" must have been with small letter, "dad".
why is it written with capital letter?

Best wishes

Hello Mohsen.k77,

When we use a word like this to simply mean 'father' then we use a small letter. However, when we use it in place of a name, to represent a particular person, we capitalise it.

Daughters are often very good at making their dads do what they want!


I always had a good relationship with Dad. We spent every weekend together, walking on the beach and talking.



The LearnEnglish Team