Using the Future Tense
Many languages have one form to speak about the future, but there are four ways
the future tense in English!
Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses
These can often cause some confusion, so here are brief and basic
explanations of the most common uses for each one.
Which form of the future tense should you use?
1. Simple future with (be going to)
going to + base form of the verb (also called V1)
is + going to + swim --> "She is going to swim later."
This is usually the first future form students learn.
A) It is used when talking about
- "I am going to visit my grandparents next week."
- "I'm not going to eat at that restaurant again.
It was terrible!"
B) It is also used to talk about future
if they are based on existing evidence
- "Look at those black clouds. I think it is
going to rain."
2. Simple future with (will)
'll, in short) + base form
of the verb (also called V1)
will + swim / 'll + swim --> "She will swim tomorrow, too."
"She'll swim tomorrow, too."
A) This is usually used when you are making predictions about the future
But only if it is a general
, and not supported by evidence.
- "You will meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger."
- "In the future, children won't go to school."
- "I think cars will fly in the future."
B) It is also used when a decision is made at the time of speaking
- "Oh no, it's raining! I think I'll take a taxi."
- "Oh, the phone is ringing. I'll get it!"
3. Present progressive
A) You can use the present
to talk about future
When a plan becomes an arrangement – it is in the appointment
book, tickets are booked or other arrangements are made – then we often
use the present progressive.
- "I'm playing soccer tonight. Do you want to
come and watch?"
- "My friends are getting married next week. I'm
The difference between the future using 'going
' and the future using the present progressive
is often very small if you are talking about plans. Sometimes either
form would be correct.
4. Simple present
Sometimes, the simple
is used to talk about the future if we
are talking about something that is happening at a fixed time
example, a travel timetable, class schedule, or movie times.
- "I have to go to bed early tonight. My plane
leaves at 5am tomorrow."
- "I think the movie starts at 8:30."
Besides using the wrong future form, students often make mistakes when
making sentences using one of these forms.
common mistakes are:
- Forgetting 'am/is/are' when using the 'going
"I going to visit them tomorrow."
going to visit them tomorrow."
- Forgetting 'to' when using the 'going to' form.
"She is going take that test again."
"She is going to
take the test again."
- Using the '-ing' form of the verb instead of
the base form with 'going to' or 'will.'
"He will winning the match."
"He is going to winning the match."
"He will win
- Adding 'to' when using 'will.'
"They will to be sorry."
"They will be sorry."
If you can understand why the following sentences are incorrect
, then you
now understand more about future forms in English.
- I going to see my parents tomorrow.
- I will go to the concert tomorrow. I booked my
ticket this morning.
- He is going to shopping after school.
- They are to playing tennis this evening.
- The train will leave at 6 o'clock tomorrow.
- I won't to buy that cell phone. It's too
If you don't understand why the sentences are incorrect, then look at
this article and the example sentences again. I'm sure you will
understand the future tense soon!
Making Predictions about
the Future in English
and Arrangements in the Future
Instant Decisions and
Promises in the Future
Schedules and Time Tables in
Predictions Worksheet and Answer Key
Talking about the Future in English Series