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The Simple Guide to English Future Tenses: A Summary of the Uses of Each Tense

By Edited Aug 19, 2016 0 0

The English Tense system can be a tricky topic for both teachers and students, but by gradually learning each tense, its formation and its use it can prove to be less daunting than what it seems. The trick is to keep things simple and do one at a time. Only practice and experience will help the student to remember the various uses of each tense. The following is a summary of the usual uses of each English Future Tense:

Present simple tense used as a future tense

- Referring to a future date when an event or action will take place e.g.

He starts his new job tomorrow, The train leaves at eight; He runs his race next Tuesday

- Referring to timetables and schedules

We leave home at midnight and arrive at the coast just before sunrise.

Present continuous tense used as a future tense

- Referring to plans or actions that will take place at a specific time or date in the future e.g.

They are leaving tomorrow; It is arriving next Tuesday

- Referring to plans or actions that will take place in the future, with no specific time or date being mentioned e.g.

I am resigning from this post; He is leaving the country

BGI tense (Auxiliary verb "be" + Going + Infinitive)

- Referring to plans and intentions e.g.

She is going to enter the Comrades Marathon; I am going to buy a car; They are going to do it

- Referring to predictions (that usually have present evidence) e.g.

It's going to be a long day; Its going to fall; They are going to be late

Future simple tense

- Referring to facts, statements, certainties and promises e.g.

It will be the start of a new month tomorrow; I will tell him next week; This will be the last time

- Referring to predictions, assumptions and speculation e.g.

It will rain in an hour; He will let you down again; I wonder what will happen

- Spontaneous decisions to do (or not do) something in the future e.g.

I'm going with you; You will be in charge today; I will never do that again

- Threats and warnings e.g.

You better get going or you will be late; Do that again and they will arrest you

Future continuous tense

- Referring to something that will happen or be in progress at a particular moment in the future e.g.

He will be performing here next week; I will be going to the doctor on Wednesday; This time next week, I will be in Spain

- Making predictions about the present moment e.g.

She will probably be trying on clothes in that store she likes so much; He will be sleeping now

- Asking about other people's plans e.g.

Will you be learning English?; Will you be staying for long? Will you be competing?

Future perfect tense

- Referring to something that will be completed by a certain date in the future – it is looking at the past from the viewpoint of the future e.g.

This time tomorrow I will have completed my studies; At the end of the October I will have worked here for 5 years; By the end of the month, By the end of the year I will have watched my favourite movie ninety times

Note: A reference point in the future is mentioned, along with what will have been done up until that point (the starting point is not important, only the end point in the future)

Future perfect continuous tense

- Referring to how long something will have been going on for at a certain point in the future.

By the end of the month I will have been an accountant for eight years; By end of the year I will have written most of my latest novel

Note: This may seem the same as the future perfect tense, but the future perfect tense emphasizes completed actions and events – the future perfect continuous tense indicates that the activity is not complete and will continue after the point in the future.

See Also

A summary of how to form each future tense

A summary of the uses of each present tense

A summary of the uses of each past tense

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