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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 Sir,

I am learning about the 'going to' verb. But can you please suggest what all are the concepts I can confuse it to .. I mean can I confuse it to use it as any other tense form like past or present

Hello paritosh0125,

I'm not quite sure what you mean here. 'Going to' describes a person's intention or the expected result of a present situation, and it is one of the ways of talking about the future in English. You can see examples on the page above, and you can see a discussion of different ways of describing plans on this page:



The LearnEnglish Team

Is the future form "will" in the following sentence correct? I think we should use the form "isn't going to" as there is evidence: "being stubborn", right?
- For being stubborn, I expect she won't be persuaded easily.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam

What you say makes sense and yes, 'isn't going to' is a good choice here. But 'won't be' is also fine, as it expresses a belief about the future. In some cases, such as this one, more than one form is possible.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Sir ,
Is it correct to say 'After she will finish her degree , she intends to work in an office.'

Hello Saqib,

We use a present form after time words like 'after' and 'before', so the correct form would be 'After she finishes her degree, she intends to work in an office'.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
which one is stronger if both are correct?
They are coming to see us tomorrow.
They will be coming to see us tomorrow.
Thank you.

Hello Lal,

I guess by 'stronger' you mean expressing more certainty that the event will take place. If so, I would say the first (are coming) is stronger. It assumes that the meeting/visit is fixed and not likely to change. The second (will be coming) is more an expectation or prediction of something that is in the normal course of events: they'll be coming to see us tomorrow because they come every Friday.



The LearnEnglish Team

Can I say
Sarah won't go with us. No matter how much we ask her.
Sarah isn't going to go with us. No matter how much we ask her.

Hello Shaban Nafea

Both can be correct but one or the other is better in certain contexts. 'won't' implies that Sarah is unwilling (i.e. does not want) to go. 'isn't going to go' can mean the same thing, but doesn't specifically imply unwillingness; it could be that she is travelling, for example, and so it's impossible for her to go with us.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team