future tense

Future Time


Future Time

Actually there is no future “tense” per se in terms of verb inflection just like with past tenses.

It may seem illogical, but people use a variety of grammatical forms when talking about the future (often with an adverbial of time).

• We will leave tomorrow morning.
• You will be leaving at the end of the month.
• They will have left by the end of summer.
• Abigail is going to leave on the twelfth.
• The bus leaves at 3 o’clock.
• Their friends are leaving very soon.
• I am to leave this Friday.

Future Events

We generally use the modal auxiliary verb will in discussing future facts, events, and making predictions based on personal opinion.

The simple and continuous forms are usually interchangeable.

Simple Form:

(+): Subject + will + verb-1 (base form).
(-): Subject + won’t + verb-1.
Y-N Q: Will + subject + verb-1?
WH-Q: WH-Q word + will + subject + verb-1?
WH-Q: Who/What + will + verb-1?

Continuous Form:

(+): Subject + will be + ing-form.
(-): Subject + won’t be + ing-form.
Y-N Q: Will + subject + be + ing-form?
WH-Q: WH-Q word + will + subject + be + ing-form?
WH-Q: Who/What + will be + ing-form?

• The store will close in 10 minutes.
• Those cranes will be spending the summer in Canada.
• Mrs. Faust won’t be too happy when she sees this.
Will you be seeing the judge tomorrow? —> Yes, I have to.
• When will the parcel arrive in Santiago? —> In about three days.
• Who will be rescuing us? —> No one! We’re on our own.


Spontaneous Decision

Will is also used to express a spontaneous decision or intention (made while speaking).

• Bye. We’ll see you on…Wednesday.
• Look! There’s an intruder in the front yard! I’ll call 911! —> That’s just the gardener.
Hi Sue! Come in! Sit down. Make yourself at home. I’ll make some coffee.

Shall is rarely used, except with I and we in asking for suggestions:

• Where shall we go this evening? —> Let’s go to Cindy’s house!
• What shall I do now? —> Move back in with your parents.

Answer the following. How would you respond?

1. You see your friend struggling with some luggage (suitcases). What do you say to him?
2. “We’ve run out of zucchinis (courgettes). Now I can’t complete your favorite dish.”
3. You and your friend have come to a fork in the road. What does he/she ask you?
4. “My cell phone is missing!”
5. A lifeguard sees a swimmer drowning in the sea. What does he say to her?

Be Going To: Form

(+): Subject + am, is, are + going to + verb-1.
(-): Subject + am, is, are + not going to + verb-1.
Y-N Q: Am, Are, Is + subject + going to + verb-1?
WH-Q: WH-Q word + am, is, are + subject + going to + verb-1?
WH-Q: Who + is + going to + verb-1?

Note: It usually sounds better to drop ‘go’ and ‘come’ in “going to go”, and “going to come”.

Plans, Intentions

Going to expresses plans or intentions, made beforehand (before the moment of speaking).

• This summer, I’m going to work as lifeguard at a swimming pool.
• Is Roland going to prepare chicken cacciatore for the guests?
• Alright, who’s going to be responsible for the posters?


Going to also talks about predictions, especially probable ones based on reasons or evidence in the present.

• I’m going to forget, so remind me.
• Their candidates are going to win many seats this election.
• Shall we go for a walk?—Don’t worry; it’s not going to rain.
• Are they going to fight? —> Nah. That’s just their way of communicating with each other.


Other Modals, Adverbs, and Expressions

Other modals, adverbs, verbs, adjectives can indicate degrees of future probability or possibility.

Probability Word or Phrase
99% certainly, definitely; certain, definite, know, positive, sure
90% most likely, most probably
75%-85% believe, think, predict; likely, probable; probably
50% could, may, might; possible, possibly; maybe, perhaps
40% may not, might not
15%-25% doubt, don’t think; probably not; unlikely
10% most likely won’t
1% certainly won’t, definitely won’t


(+/-): Subject + modal (not) + verb-1.
(+): Subject + will + adverb + (verb-1).
(+/-): Subject + adverb + will (won’t) + (verb-1).

(+/-): Subject + (do not) + know, believe, think; doubt +
(+/-): Subject + be (not) + sure, positive, definite, certain +

Respond to the following statements. Say why and give examples.

Possible replies: True. I agree completely. Definitely. Probably. I somewhat agree. Yes and No. Maybe. Perhaps. It depends. Possibly. I don’t think so. I doubt it. I totally disagree. That’s impossible. False. Never.


1. The population of the world will certainly continue to increase.
2. I know that China will soon have the world’s biggest economy.
3. My colleague is sure/positive/certain/definite that computers will be able to think and talk.
4. I am definitely not going to become a teacher.


5. Most likely everyone in our class is going to attend university.


6. Scientists are going to probably find a cure for cancer in the Amazon.
7. Our school counselor predicts there is going to be lots of job opportunities in health care, education and skilled trades.
8. I think that I going to be dealing with foreigners on occasion.
9. My neighbors believe their grown children will live with them for quite some time.
10. It’s likely that everyone will be listening to the same, pop music.


11. It’s possible that all our universities will be conducting all lessons in business, science and engineering in English.
12. Don and Marie could have several different careers in their working lives.
13. One of my relatives might move to another city or country.
14. The government may raise taxes.
15. Maybe/Perhaps I will live in the countryside.


16. My best friend may not be able to afford his/her own home.
17. The project team at my company/school might not finish the project on schedule and within budget.


18. I doubt scientists are going to discover intelligent life in outer space.
19. Our teachers don’t think computers are going to replace them.
20. It’s unlikely that engineers are going to develop a practical, personal flying apparatus (device) in the near future.
21. Residents here are probably not going to buy and own any guns.


22. People will most likely not colonize the moon, Mars or another planet—anytime soon.


23. Humans certainly won’t travel at the speed of light.
24. Scientists will definitely not be able to create a time transport machine.

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