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Future Tenses in English

Exercises:

  1. Write or say 3 sentences (with WILL / WON’T or GOING TO) predicting what is going to happen in the world during the next 10 years.
  2. Write or say 1 thing you are going to do and 1 things you are NOT going to do this year.
  3. Write or say 3 sentences about plans or arrangements you have for the upcoming months.
  4. Imagine that your best friend is very sick and can’t leave the house. Write or say one thing that you can do to help her (using “I’ll…”)
  5. What’s one thing you will have done by this date next year? (Use the future perfect: “By this time next year, I will have written a book,” for example)

How to use Future Tenses in English

When talking about the future in English, many students use WILL for everything – because it’s so easy! However, there are various future tenses, and each one is used in a specific situation. This lesson explains six examples and gives you some exercises to put them into practice immediately.

#1 – For Predictions: Use WILL / WON’T or GOING TO

Predictions, projections, and other ways of guessing or imagining the future can all use WILL/WON’T or GOING TO (with no difference):

  • The economy will recover quickly.
    = The economy is going to recover quickly.
  • That team won’t win the game.
    = That team‘s not going to win the game.

In the case of first conditional sentences (using IF) we usually use WILL / WON’T:

  • If you practice every day, your English will improve fast.
  • If you don’t study, you won’t pass the test.

Use it now!

Write or say 3 sentences (with WILL / WON’T or GOING TO) predicting what is going to happen in the world during the next 10 years.

Future tenses in English

I’m going to study more. I’m not going to procrastinate as much.

#2 – For Intentions: Use GOING TO

What’s an “intention”? It’s when you want to do something, but you have not yet taken any definite action.

You can use going to or other phrases for New Year’s resolutions (I hope to, I’d like to, I’m planning to, I might, I’m thinking of):

I’m going to join a gym.

I’m going to read more books.

I’m going to get out of debt this year.

I’m going to start doing some volunteer work.

Use it now!

Write or say 1 thing you are going to do and 1 things you are NOT going to do this year.

#3 – For Plans and Arrangements, you can use 3 verb tenses:

“Plans and arrangements” means you have already taken some definite action to make this plan a reality in the future.

Here’s the difference:

  • Intention:
    I’d like to meet with Barbara tomorrow.
    (but Barbara and I haven’t decided on a time yet)
  • Plan / Arrangement:
    I’m meeting with Barbara tomorrow.
    I’m going to meet with Barbara tomorrow.
    I’ll be meeting with Barbara tomorrow.
    (Barbara and I have scheduled a time to meet, so the meeting will definitely happen)

As you can see from the example above, there are 3 verb tenses that are commonly used:

  • Going to: We’re going to visit him next week.
  • Present Continuous: We’re visiting him next week.
  • Future Continuous: We’ll be visiting him next week.

When talking about plans and arrangements, these tenses are essentially the same. However, when using the present continuous for future use, we usually include the specific time in the future (to avoid confusion with “actions happening at the moment”):

I’m taking an intensive English course.
(right now, at this moment; the course is currently in progress)

I’m taking an intensive English course next month.
(in the future)

Use it now!

Write or say 3 sentences about plans or arrangements you have for the upcoming months.

#4 – For Decisions in the Moment, Promises, and Offers, use WILL:

Future tenses in English

“Would you like coffee or tea?” – “I’ll have coffee.”

One of the most common decisions made in the moment is when ordering at a restaurant:

Ordering at a restaurant:
I’ll have the salmon with a side order of vegetables.
I’ll have the chicken salad.
I’ll have a slice of apple pie with ice cream.

Also use WILL when you are offering to help someone, or making a promise:

  • I’ll help you with your homework.
    = I am offering to help you with your homework.
  • We’ll give you a ride to the train station.
    = We are offering to take you to the train station.
  • I’ll call you at 5:00.
    = I promise to call you at 5:00.
  • I’ll always love you.
    = I promise to love you forever.

Use it now!

Imagine that your best friend is very sick and can’t leave the house. Write or say one thing that you can do to help her. (“I’ll cook you dinner…” “I’ll pick up your kids from school…” etc.)

Future tenses in English

“Our flight leaves at 8:00.”

 

#5 – For Scheduled Events, use the PRESENT SIMPLE:

“Scheduled events” are things like:

Transportation schedules (flights, trains, etc.)
Our flight leaves at 8:00.

Conferences and events (meetings, lectures, classes)
The conference starts next Thursday.

Things that operate on a regular schedule (bank or store opening / closing)
The supermarket closes in 15 minutes.

These are different from “plans and arrangements” because in general, they are things we have no control over.

#6 – For actions that will be completed before a specific time in the future, use the FUTURE PERFECT:

Here’s an example:

  • Imagine that right now it is 12:00 PM.
  • I will leave work at 5:00 PM.
  • Before I leave work, I am definitely going finish a project.

So I can say: “By 5:00 PM, I will have finished the project.”

Or: “By the time I leave work, I will have finished the project.”

Future tenses in English

The future perfect is typically used with by and by the time.

Some people call the future perfect “the future in the past” because I am imagining being at a future point (5:00 PM) looking back on an action that was completed in the past.

Use it now!

What’s one thing you will have done by this date next year?

“By this time next year, I will have written a book,” for example.

Images: Salvatore Vuono, stockimages, Stuart Miles, Stuart Miles, stockimages – from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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