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Future Forms

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Man in bow of boat pointing
Stephen Swintek/ Stone/ Getty Images

The future, like the past and present, has four different forms: Simple Future, Future Continuous, Future Perfect, and Future Perfect Continuous. To this comes the use of 'going to' as a future form. The following article takes a look at each of these forms, as well as some variations in future tense usage with clear examples to help explain the use of each.

Listed below are examples, uses and formation of Future Forms followed by a quiz.

Will Verb (base form)

Examples:

It will snow tomorrow.
She won't win the election.

Used for predictions

Will Verb (base form)

Examples:

The concert will begin at 8 o'clock.
When will the train leave?

Used for scheduled events

Will Verb (base form)

Examples:

Will you marry me?
I'll help you with your homework after class

Used for promises

Will Verb (base form)

Examples:

I'll make you a sandwich.
They'll help you if you want.

Used for offers

Will Verb (base form)

Examples:

He will telephone as soon as he arrives.
Will you visit me when you come next week?

Used in combination with time clauses (as soon as, when, before, after)

Be going to Verb (base form)

Examples:

Frank is going to study Medicine.
Where are they going to stay when they come?
She isn't going to buy the new house afterall.

The future with 'going to' is used to express planned events or intentions. These events or intentions are decided on before the moment of speaking.

NOTE

'Going to' or '-ing' are often both correct for planed events. 'Going to' should be used for distant future intentions (example: He's going to study Law)

Be going to Verb (base form)

Examples:

Oh no! Look at those clouds. It's going to rain.
Be careful! You're going to drop those dishes!

Used for future predictions based on physical (usually visual) evidence.

Present Continuous (be '-ing')

Examples:

He's coming tomorrow afternoon.
What are we having for dinner?
I'm not seeing the doctor until Friday.

Used for planned or personally scheduled events. Usually used with principle verbs such as: come, go, begin, start, finish, have, etc.

NOTE

'Going to' or '-ing' are often both correct for planed events. 'Going to' should be used for distant future intentions (example: He's going to study Law)

Simple Present

Examples:

The class begins at 11.30.
The plane leaves at 6 o'clock.

Used for scheduled public events such as train and plane schedules, course schedules, etc.

Common future time expressions include:

next (week, month, year), tomorrow, in X's time (amount of time, i.e. two week's time), in year, time clauses (when, as soon as, before, after) simple present (example: I will telephone as soon as I arrive.) soon, later

Structure of the Forms

Future with Will

S + will + verb (base form) = positve

Examples:

I'll make you a sandwich.
They'll visit soon.
It'll rain tomorrow.

S + will not (won't) + verb (base form) = negative

Examples:

She won't come next week.
It won't take a long time.
We won't sing that song.

Will + S + verb (base form) = question

Examples:

Will you give me a hand?
Where will she stay?
When will we leave?

Future with 'going to'

Conjugate the helping verb "be" 'going to' verb (base form).

Examples:

You are going to stay with them.
She is going to visit Paul.
They are going to move soon.

Conjugate the helping verb "be" not going to verb (base form)

Examples:

I'm not going to stay very long.
We aren't going to visit our friends in Paris.
They aren't going to get a new job.

Question word conjugate the helping verb 'be' subject going to verb (base form)

Examples:

What are you going to do?
Where is he going to stay?
When are they going to leave?

Future with '-ing' (present continuous)

Conjugate the helping verb "be" and verb -ing.

Examples:

I'm meeting him tomorrow.
She's having lunch with Tom.
They're flying to Lisbon next week.

Conjugate the helping verb "be" not verb -ing.

Examples:

She isn't having a meeting tomorrow.
You aren't playing tennis this weekend.
They aren't going to the party.

Question word conjugate the helping verb 'be' subject verb -ing

Examples:

Are you attending the meeting on Friday?
Is he coming to the party?
Are they giving a presentation?

Test your knowledge of future forms by taking the Future Forms Quiz

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