Future Tenses

Future forms

There are many different ways to talk about the future in English. The form we choose depends on the situation and how certain we feel.

Present simple

We can use the present simple to talk about events that are scheduled in the future or that are in a timetable.

My flight gets in at 12:15.

Our sale doesn't start until next Wednesday.

What time does the train to Tallinn leave?

We can also use the present simple to refer to the future, after as soon as, by the time, when and until.

We'll inform you of the outcome as soon as we make a decision. (at some point in the future)

The painting will be finished by the time the furniture arrives.

He's going to call when he leaves Mexico City.

They won't send the goods until we pay the deposit.


Future simple

We often use will

1, when we're making predictions:

In ten years' time, he'll be CEO of this company.

Oil prices will rise steadily in the next quarter.

2, when we're deciding something at the moment of speaking:

There isn't any printer paper so we'll buy some later.

It's a lovely day so I’ll walk to work.

3 to make offers and promises:

I'll open the door for you.

We'll meet your train and give you a lift to the office.

going to

We often use the expression going to when we talk about intentions and future plans when we have already decided to do something.

I'm going to buy a new car tomorrow. (I intend to purchase a car)

Are you going to work fate this evening? (Do you intend to work late?)

We can also use going to when present evidence or trends suggest that something will happen in the future.

That pile of wood doesn't look safe. It's going to fall.

This traffic is really bad. We're going to miss our flight.

Compare these sentences using going to and will:

Property prices in the city centre are going to rise in the next six months. (based on present evidence or trends)

Property prices in the city centre will rise in the next six months. (in the speaker's opinion)

Present continuous

We often use the present continuous to talk about future plans and firm arrangements.

He's flying to Japan tomorrow morning.

We aren't meeting the board of directors until Friday.

When are you leaving for the airport?

Compare these sentences using the present continuous and going to.

I'm taking our new clients to lunch. (This is arranged and is in my diary)

I'm going to take our new clients to lunch. (This is my intention but it isn't arranged yet.)


Future perfect

We can use the future perfect to say that something will have been done or completed by a point in the future.

By June, I’ll have finished my training course.

They'll have made a decision by the end of the week.

We often use by with the future perfect. We can use by to talk about a future event that will occur at or before a future moment.

Will the money have been paid into my account by the end of the month?

The contract won't have arrived by the deadline.


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