Using future forms

There are many ways of talking about the future in English. Which way you choose depends on how you see the future. Is the future event planned or unplanned, a schedule, or a prediction?

Making predictions in English

You can use both will and going to to make predictions.

For example, "I think the Labour party will lose the next election." Or "I think the Labour party are going to lose the next election."

If you can make a prediction based on what you see now, we use going to.

For example, "You're driving too fast, you're going to hit the car in front!"

Future plans and arrangements

If something has already been planned, use going to with the verb, or the Present Continuous tense.

"I'm going to take my exams next month."

"He's visiting a client on Tuesday."

Unplanned future

When we decide to do something at the moment of speaking, we use will.

"The phone's ringing - I'll answer it."
(You only answer the phone when it starts ringing.)

Future schedules

When we want to talk about a schedule, we use the Present Simple tense.

"The plane leaves in half an hour - we'd better hurry."

"Next week I fly to Italy, then on Tuesday, I'm in Spain."

Events in progress at a time in the future

To talk about something that will be in progress at a time in the future, use will be doing.

"For example, "This time next week, I'll be sitting on a plane."

We can also use this form to make polite requests.

"Will you be using the car tomorrow?"
(If you won't, can I use it?)

Events that will be completed by a time in the future

If you want to say that something will be completed by a time in the future, use will have done.

"I'll have finished the report by this afternoon."

Final tip

Many learners of English overuse will and going to. Try using all the different future forms so that you become more confident.

Future Forms Exercise

Choose the correct answer.

1. It's getting cold. I think __
2. He __ the exam next month.
3. She __ clients all day tomorrow.
4. What time __ ?
In about 10 minutes, I think.
5. By September I __
6. They __ their exam this time tomorrow.
7. You don't study hard enough. I'm sure you __ your exam.
8. __ past the supermarket later? If so, could you get some bread?
9. Do you think we __ enough money to buy a car next year?
10. You __ the exam result until next week.

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