Future forms – expressing future time
Choose the correct or most appropriate future forms to complete the sentences below.
We often use the present continuous to talk about future events that are already planned and decided, when a date and/or a place have been chosen.
- I’m seeing the dentist at 6.
- We are getting married next week.
- I’m flying to New York tomorrow morning.
Be going to
We can also use be going to for future arrangements.
- I’m going to play tennis with Elisabeth today.
Present continuous vs be going to
We can normally use both present continuous and going to to talk about future plans, but the present continuous emphasises the fact that we have already decided a place and/or time, whereas be going to emphasises our intention to do something.
- I’m going to have a drink after work. (=it’s my intention)
- I’m having a drink with some colleagues after work. (=it has been arranged)
We can also use the future continuous instead of the present continuous for future events that have already been planned or decided.
- We’ll be coming next weekend.
- We’ll be leaving at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
We often use the future continuous to ask politely about future arrangements.
- Will you be going home this summer?
And of course, we use the future continuous to talk about situations or actions that will be in progress at a certain time in the future.
- This time next week, we’ll be travelling to Paris.
- Tomorrow at 10, you’ll be doing your exam.
We use the present simple for future events that are scheduled or timetabled.
- The train leaves at 4.
- Shops close at 6.
- I have my yoga class tomorrow at 10.
We use will to talk about something we think will happen:
- I think he’ll win the election.
- He will be a good doctor.
Be going to
We use be going to to talk about something that is very near to happen or that we see is going to happen (there is present evidence)
- Don’t drive like a crazy man. We’re going to have an accident!
- The doctor said I’m going to have a girl.
Future perfect simple
We use the future perfect simple for actions that will be finished before a certain time in the future.
- By 2050, researchers will have found a cure for cancer.
- By this time next year, I’ll have graduated.
We can also use the future perfect simple to talk about the duration of a situation until a certain time in the future (with stative verbs).
- By the time I leave, I will have been in England for 6 months.
- In 2 years, we will have been married for 20 years.
Future perfect continuous
We use the future perfect continuous with dynamic verbs to talk about the duration of a situation until a certain time in the future.
- By the end of the year, she will have been working on the publication for over ten years.
- When he steps into the boxing ring on Saturday he will have been training for about 18 months.
Future time clauses (when, as soon as, until, before, after)
Use present simple to talk about the future in sentences with when, as soon as, until, before, after
- I’ll retire when I’m 70. (NOT: when I’ll be)
- I won’t call you until I arrive (NOT: will arrive.)
Other uses of will
We use will for decisions that we make at the moment of speaking (instant decisions).
- ‘Oh, we don’t have sugar.’ ‘Don’t worry, I’ll buy some.’
Promises and refusals
- I will help you whenever you need me.
- I won’t lend him my car.
- The president will visit the Vatican next November.
When we offer to do something for somebody, we use I will in statements or shall I in questions.
- I’ll carry that bag for you.
- Shall I organise the meeting?
We use shall we to make suggestions.
- Shall we eat out today?
- Will you open the door, please?
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