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The Future Tense

The future can be expressed in several ways in English. Here are the different possibilities:

  1. Future Simple: will + base form of the verb
  2. Be Going To: am, is, are + going to + base form of the verb
  3. Shall: Shall + subject + base form of the verb?
  4. Future Progressive: will be + verbing
  5. Present Simple and Present Progressive with Future Meaning

Time expressions in the Future Tense

There are several time expressions that are used in all of the different forms of the future tense. They are generally used at the end of the sentence or question. The most common are: tomorrow, next week (Sunday/month/year), in two days (weeks, months years), the day after tomorrow.

Future Simple: Will + Base Form of the Verb

This form is used to:

Describe a simple action in the future:

  1. She‘ll write the e-mail after lunch.
  2. Alice won’t help us decorate for the party.

Make a prediction or give a warning:

  1. Don’t lift that. You‘ll hurt yourself
  2. If you don’t finish the bid, the boss won’t give you a raise.

Make a spontaneous decision:

  1. You dropped your purse. I‘ll get it.
Subject will or won’t +verb rest of sentence
Positive Negative
I / You / We / They
He / She / It
will see won’t see you tomorrow night

Contractions

In general, use the contracted forms of the pronoun + will:
I will > I’ll / he will > he’ll / she will > she’ll / you will > you’ll / we will > we’ll /they will > they’ll
Ex. I’ll see you tomorrow. / You’ll get the answer by post.
Try to use the short form won’t instead of will not
Ex. I won’t see you tomorrow.
Save the long forms for when you want to create emphasis in spoken Englsih or when writing formal texts.
Ex. You will not do that again! / His hypothesis will not stand up to their criticism.

Yes/No Questions in the Future Simple

To create a question that will be answered with a yes or no, use Will (or Won’t) + subject + base form of the verb.

Will subject base form of the verb rest of sentence
Will (Won’t) I / You / We / They
He / She / It
send that fax for me
  1. Will Dave burn the CD for you?
  2. Won’t the girls be late for the party?

Wh- Questions in the Future Simple

Wh- questions are questions that require more information in their answers. Typical wh- words are what, where, when, why, who, how, how many, how much.

To form a Wh-question use: Wh-word + will (or won’t) + subject + base form of the verb.

Wh word Will subject base form of the verb rest of sentence
What will I / You / We / They
He / She / It
tell him tonight
Why won’t finish the project
  1. When will he give you an answer?
  2. Why won’t you tell him the truth?

Exercises – Future Simple Tense

Fill in the correct form of the verb with the future simple tense as in the examples.

  1. I‘ll drive you to your lesson at 4 pm. (drive)
  2. He won’t work overtime anymore (not work)
  1. Sam _______ the documents over to you tomorrow. (bring)
  2. The managers ________ about the budget until next Thursday. (not decide)
  3. _______ your sister ______ in a large church? (get married)
  4. ________ he _____ you move to your new apartment? (not help)
  5. I _________ him this time. He mustn’t do that again. (forgive)

Answers:

  1. will bring
  2. won’t decide
  3. Will/ get married
  4. Won’t/help
  5. will forgive

Future – Be Going To

We usually use am, is or are + going to + the base form of the verb to talk about actions in the future that have already been decided on.

Subject Form of be + going to base form of the verb rest of sentence
Positive Negative
I am going to am not going to buy some clothes tomorrow
He / She / It is going to isn’t (is not) going to
You / We / They are going to aren’t (are not) going to
  1. Dan‘s going to take the order over to the customer.
  2. The girls are going to sing ‘Amazing Grace’ now.
  3. They aren’t going to buy the house.
  4. I am not going to make dinner tonight. We’re going out to a restaurant.

Yes/No Questions – Be going to

To ask a question that will be answered with either a yes or no, start with Am, Is or Are (or isn’t/aren’t for negative questions), then choose a subject (the person or thing doing the action), followed by going to + the base form of the verb.

A form of be subject going to + verb rest of sentence
Am I going to eat lunch today
Is / Isn’t he / she / it
Are/ Aren’t you / we / they
  1. Am I going to feel bad about my decision?
  2. Is he going to watch the film tonight?
  3. Are you going to participate in the race tomorrow?

Wh-Questions – Be Going To

Wh- questions are questions that require more information in their answers. Typical wh- words are what, where, when, which, why, who, how, how many, how much.

To create a wh-question, start with the wh-word, then add am, is or are, then the subject (a person or thing that will be doing the action), going to and the base form of the verb.

Wh- word A form of be subject going to + verb rest of sentence
Why am I going to watch the news
is / Isn’t he / she / it
are/ aren’t you / we / they
  1. How much is the computer going to cost?
  2. Why aren’t you going to buy that car?

Exercises – Future – be going to

Fill in the correct form of the verb with the be going to form of future as in the examples.

  1. He is going to clean up his room tonight. (clean up)
  2. Teddy and Sam aren’t going to eat at that restaurant again. (not eat)
  1. Ben__________ Mr. Davis to give him a good grade. (persuade)
  2. We __________ a refund on that TV that broke down. (demand)
  3. ________Ms. Thompson __________ you extra for that work?(pay)
  4. I _______ Los Angeles next year. (leave)
  5. Turner _______ a car when he lands at the airport. (hire) He’ll take the train.

Answers:

  1. is going to persuade
  2. are going to demand
  3. Is/going to pay
  4. am going to leave
  5. isn’t going to hire

Future: Shall

Shall is used with the subjects I and we to make suggestions or to offer to do something for someone. It is always used in the form of a question.

Will subject base form of the verb rest of sentence
Shall I / We send out for pizza
  1. Shall we go for a walk?
  2. Shall I help you with that?

The use of shall to mean will is formal English and is not commonly used today.

Future Progressive (Continuous) – will + be + verbing

Spelling Tip

Verbing (Present Participle)

  • Add ing to most verbs. Ex. play > playing, cry > crying, bark > barking
  • For verbs that end in e, remove the e and add ing. Ex: slide > sliding, ride > riding
  • For verbs that end in ie, change the ie to y and add ing. Ex: die > dying, tie > tying
  • For a verb whose last syllable is written with a consonant-vowel-consonant and is stressed, double the last letter before adding ing. Ex: beg > begging, begin > beginning. However: enter > entering (last syllable is not stressed)

We use will/wont + be + verbing (present participle) when we know that an action will be in progress at some time in the future or to describe something that has been pre-arranged.

Subject will / won’t + be + verbing rest of sentence
Positive Negative
I / You / We / They
He / She / It
will be waiting won’t be waiting for you
  1. Don’t phone me before 12:00. I will be meeting with a client.
  2. You can take my car tomorrow. I won’t be using it.
  3. This time next year, we will be living in our new home.

Yes/No Questions in the Future Progressive (Continuous)

To ask a question that will be answered with either a yes or no, start with Will or Won’t, then choose your subject (the person or thing that will be doing the action), followed by be + verbing (present participle).

Will/Wont Subject be + verbing Rest of Sentence
Will I
he / she / it
you / we / they
be exhibiting at the show next month
Won’t be coming to the wedding on Sunday
  1. Will Allen be participating in the science fair next week ?
  2. Won’t you be visiting your mother when I’m in town?

Wh-Questions in the Future Progressive (Continuous)

Wh- questions are questions that require more information in their answers. Typical wh- words are what, where, when, which, why, who, how,
To create a wh-question, start with the wh-word, then will +the subject (a person or thing that is doing the action), followed by be + the ing ( present participle) form of the verb.

Wh Word will/wont subject verbing rest of sentence
When will I
he / she / it
you / we / they
be meeting with the CEO today
  1. Where will he be waiting for me?
  2. How will you be travelling to the exhibition?

Some Wh-questions have a different word order:

Wh Word subject will verbing rest of sentence
How many people will be attending the show
Who will be going with you
  1. How many contestants will be attempting to win the prize?
  2. Which runners will be running the race?

Exercises – Future Progressive (Continuous)

Fill in the correct form of the verb with the future progressive ( will + be + verbing) form of future as in the examples.

  1. He will be receiving his M.A. degree at the ceremony next week (receive)
  2. Will Ron be visiting you today?(visit)
  1. I ________ to Monterey this weekend. (drive) Do you want to come along?
  2. ________ they ________ the conference next week? (attend)
  3. Ella and Sara __________ out of class just as I arrive at the college. (get)
  4. I ________ in Norway next week while you are sunbathing in Tahiti (freeze)
  5. How many students _________ next month? (not graduate)

Answers:

  1. will be driving
  2. Will/ be attending
  3. will be getting
  4. will be freezing
  5. will not be graduating

Present Simple and Present Progressive with Future Meaning

The present simple tense may be used to express the future in order to talk about plans in the near future.

  1. Her bus leaves at 6:00 Tuesday morning.

The present progressive tense may be used to express the future especially when you want to talk about plans arranged in advance. It is common to use it with verbs of movement.

  1. I’m turning in my History assignment tomorrow morning.

Tag Questions in the Future Tense

Tag questions are those short questions that are tagged onto the end of a sentence. They are used just to make sure the person you’re talking to understood what you meant or to emphasize what you said.

They’re formed by using a positive sentence in the future tense forms and adding an appropriate auxiliary (helping) and a pronoun (I, you, we, they, he, she, it) and a question mark.

  1. John will call her tomorrow, won’t he?
  2. All those girls will be sitting quietly, won’t they?
  3. You’re coming over tonight, aren’t you?
  4. That bee is going to sting me, isn’t it?

You may also add a positive tag when you’re using a negative sentence.

  1. Carey won’t report me, will she?
  2. The kids aren’t going to play soccer tomorrow, are they?
  3. You’re not working tomorrow, are you?

As a rule: When the sentence is positive, the tag is negative.
When the sentence is negative, the tag is positive.

Examples – Future Tense

Positive

  1. She’ll write the e-mail after lunch.
  2. Don’t lift that. You’ll hurt yourself.
  3. You dropped your purse. I’ll get it.
  4. I’ll see you tomorrow.
  5. You’ll get the answer by post.
  6. Dan’s going to take the order over to the customer.
  7. The girls are going to sing ‘Amazing Grace’ now.
  8. I’ll drive you to your lesson at 4 pm.
  9. He is going to clean up his room tonight.
  10. Don’t phone me before 12:00. I will be meeting with a client.
  11. This time next year, we will be living in our new home.
  12. He will be receiving his M.A. degree at the ceremony next week.
  13. Her bus leaves at 6:00 Tuesday morning.
  14. I’m turning in my History assignment tomorrow morning.

Negative

  1. Alice won’t help us decorate for the party.
  2. If you don’t finish the bid, the boss won’t give you a raise.
  3. I won’t see you tomorrow.
  4. You will not do that again!
  5. They aren’t going to buy the house.
  6. I am not going to make dinner tonight. We’re going out to a restaurant.
  7. Teddy and Sam aren’t going to eat at that restaurant again.
  8. You can take my car tomorrow. I won’t be using it.
  9. He won’t work overtime anymore.

Yes/No Questions

  1. Will Dave burn the CD for you?
  2. Won’t the girls be late for the party?
  3. Am I going to feel bad about my decision?
  4. Is he going to watch the film tonight?
  5. Are you going to participate in the race tomorrow?
  6. Shall we go for a walk?
  7. Shall I help you with that?
  8. Will Allen be participating in the science fair next week?
  9. Won’t you be visiting your mother when I’m in town?
  10. Will Ron be visiting you today?

Wh- Questions

  1. When will he give you an answer?
  2. Why won’t you tell him the truth?
  3. How much is the computer going to cost?
  4. Why aren’t you going to buy that car?
  5. Where will he be waiting for me?
  6. How will you be travelling to the exhibition?
  7. How many contestants will be attempting to win the prize?
  8. Which runners will be running the race?

Tag Questions

  1. John will call her tomorrow, won’t he?
  2. All those girls will be sitting quietly, won’t they?
  3. You are going to finish that work, aren’t you?
  4. That bee is going to sting me, isn’t it?
  5. Carey won’t report me, will she?
  6. The kids aren’t going to play soccer tomorrow, are they?
  7. You’re not working tomorrow, are you?