1. When we know about the future we normally use the present tense.

  • We use the present simple for something scheduled or arranged:

We have a lesson next Monday.
The train arrives at 6.30 in the morning.
The holidays start next week.
It is my birthday tomorrow.

  • 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.

2. We use will to talk about the future:

  • When we make predictions:

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.

3. We use (be) going to:

  • To talk about plans and intentions:

I’m going to drive to work today.
They are going to move to Manchester.

  • When we can see that something is likely to happen:

Be careful! You are going to fall.
Look at those black clouds. I think it’s going to rain.


4. 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.

5. 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.

6. We can use should if we think something is likely to happen:

We should be home in time for tea.
The game should be over by eight o’clock.

7. Clauses with time words:

In clauses with time words like when, after, and until we often use a present tense form 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.

8. Clauses with if:

In clauses with if we often use a present tense form to talk about the future:

We won’t be able to go out if it rains.
If Barcelona win tomorrow they will be champions.

WARNING: We do not normally use will in clauses with if or with time words:

I’ll come home when I will finish work.
We won’t be able to go out if it will rain rains.

But we can use will if it means a promise or offer:

I will be very happy if you will come to my party.
We should finish the job early if George will help us.

9. We can use the future continuous instead of the present continuous or going to for emphasis when we are talking about plans, arrangements and intentions:

They’ll be coming to see us next week.
I will be driving to work tomorrow.

 

 

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

I used to read a book at night.
Is this sentence ok or not?

Hello erandawyb,

Yes, it is correct. Often people might just say 'I used to read at night', though if you want to emphasise that it was a book that you read, then of course your sentence is more specific.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,

It is not my homework :) Friend asked me and I lost my sleep.
Usually the question is where is the line between future fact (I am sure it happens) and planned action (I have intention to do smth)?

"
British explorer Robin Drake says the first international polar expedition ***start*** next week. They are going to try to reach the North Pole on a 65-day, 480-mile journey. If Drake succeeds, he will be the first man to walk to both the North and South poles."

I was sure it is "is starting" is a correct form because of a planned action. And was pretty much surprised when I found out "will start" is a correct form. For me "will" forms was more of a spontaneous action.

But probably here it was my thoughts about plan. There is nothing about how they actually "planned" this expedition.

Thank you in advance,
Anastasia

Hello, could you please help me with one exercise? It is from student's book of New Headway (pretty popular material for English learning in Russia).

British explorer Robin Drake says the first international polar expedition (start) next week. (And then short text begins)

It is a choise from Present Simple/Present Cont./Future Simple and going to forms. The correct form from key is "will start".
But it's neither a spontaneous action nor expectation/promise etc.

Please help.

Anastasia

Hello Anastasia,

Generally we don't provide help with exercises from elsewhere as we would end up doing people's homework or tests for them!

Future forms are very much dependent on how the speaker sees the action or situation being described and there is often a choice of forms available, depending on what the speaker wishes to emphasise. Here all of the options (startsis starting and will start) are possible. In fact you could also use is going to start and will be starting here. All of those are possible forms and there is no reason why any particular one would be preferred. It entirely depends on how the speaker sees, or chooses to present, the activity: as part of a fixed schedule, as a plan, as an arrangement, as a future fact etc.

If a more detailed context is provided them perhaps one or more of these options will become more likely, but all remain possible.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Teachers,

When I tell the following to my friend who plans to go back to his home country (his home), which expression is approriate and could I get the explanation about the subtle difference in nuance for each expression?

1. When will you go home?

2. When are you going to go home ?

3. When are you going home?

4. When will you be going home ?

Hello Yasuhito Ota,

I'm not really sure how I can answer this question. First of all, all of these forms are described on the page above; you simply need to apply the explanation there to your examples. Second, all of them are correct and appropriate; which you should use depends upon your own intention, as is explained above. For example, your first sentence is:

When will you go home?

Above, there is a list of uses of 'will':

2. We use will to talk about the future:

  • When we make predictions
  • To mean want to or be willing to
  • To make offers and promises
  • To talk about offers and promises

The second of these would probably be relevant to your example, though it would depend on the context.

The answers to your questions are on this page; you need to apply the explanations to your own context.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Team,
regarding to the example "I think everyone is coming to the dinner on Saturday", I'd said "I think everyone will come to the dinner on Saturday" because in the main clause the verb is "to think".
Could you clarify me the doubt?
Thank you very much.

Hello annapatrizia,

Both 'is coming' (an arrangement) and 'will' (a prediction/hope/promise) are possible in this sentence. It depends on the intention of the speaker. However, 'comes' (the second option in the task) is not likely.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

It 's true, I had to choose between two option, but I thought about another situation :-). Sorry.
Regards.
Anna Patrizia

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