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Future (simple)

MORE: Future Simple

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Expressing the Future
A nice chart that shows 4 different ways to express the future. (englishclub.com)
Simple Future
A simple explanation that explains the difference between 'will' and 'going to.' (englishpage.com)
Simple Future Tense
Nice charts on using 'will.' (englishclub)Two ways to talk about the future are to use be going to and will. We call this the simple future tense. Sometimes, we also use the simple present tense to talk about the future.
The future is anytime after "now"

Be going to" and "will"

Promising, planning, and predicting -- that's how we use the simple future tense!

Here are two ways to talk about the future:
1. "be going to"
2. "will"

The main difference
  • Use be going to for future plans you've already made
  • Use will for decisions about the future that you make in the moment
  • Use either one for for future predictions.
Future plans: Use be going to
  • We are going to travel to Hawaii in June.
  • Are you going to take a class in English?
  • She is going to miss the bus.
Exception: If someone asks you a question using "will" you may answer using "will."
Question: What will you do on vacation?
Answer: I'll go to visit my parents in Guatemala.

Prediction: Use either one.
If you think you know about a future event, you can use either going to OR will.

The country will elect the president in November.
The country is going to elect the president in November.
It will rain on Saturday.
It is going to rain on Saturday.

Requests and responses to requests: Use will.
When you make a request, or respond to a request, or when you promise to do something, use will. The most natural way to use will in this way is to make it a contraction (e.g., I'll, Will you.)

Paul: It's really hot in here.
Anna: I'll open a window.

Sam: Will you help me move this sofa?
Jean: Sure, I'll help you.

You can also use modals to make requests and respond to requests, or to talk about the ability to do something. Examples:

Paul: It's really hot in here.
Anna: Would you like me to open a window?
Paul: That would be great! Thanks.

Sam: Can you help me move this sofa?
Jean: Sure, I can help you with that.

Promises and decisions that you make: Use will in the moment you make the decision, then use going to to talk about it.

The decision is made in the moment:
I'll wash the dishes if you cook dinner.
We'll visit you tomorrow, grandmother.

Now, you are talking about the decision:

Question: Did you decide who is going to wash the dishes tonight? 
Answer: I'm going to wash the dishes, and Rosa is going to cook dinner.

Question: What are you doing tomorrow?
Answer: We're going to visit our grandmother.

Strong statements: Use will
When you want to make a strong or clear statement, use will. When speaking, you may also place more stress on the word for emphasis.

Child: I don't want to brush my teeth!
Parent: You will brush your teeth, and you will brush them now!

Using the Simple Present to express the future
Sometimes we use the simple present tense to express the future. We do this when it's about time and schedules.

When you begin a clause with a time or conditional expression (while, before, after, by the time, as soon as, if, unless, etc.) do not use future tense. Instead, use simple present tense.
  • When the train comes, we will get on board. (NOT When the train will come...)
  • If you don't get here by 8 o'clock, I'm going to leave without you. (NOT If you will not get here...)
  • Before we leave, we should close all the windows. (NOT Before we will leave...)As soon as the package arrives, we'll open it.

A practice activity

1. Click this link and watch the video at the On Target English website: (it will open a new web page)

2. After you watch the video, click this link:
Read about future expressions.

3. Scroll to the bottom of the page.

4. Click Verb Tense Exercise 18 Will and Be Going to.

5. Take the quiz!

6. After you type in the correct answers, click Check at the bottom of the page. The answers that are incorrect remain. Try to correct them.

7. You can try the other quizzes, like Verb Tense Exercise 19.