If you speak English, you most likely make use of the English future tense every day. And chances are, if you're not an English scholar or planning on teaching English, you don't know how to explain how each of the seven tenses making up the future tense system are formed and used (or even that there are seven variations!). For the average person; there is one future tense and that's all there is to know. If you want to know more (or plan on teaching English) then knowledge of each of the seven minor tenses that make up the past tense is required. The seven future tenses are: present simple, present continuous, BGI, future simple, future continuous, future perfect and future perfect continuous.
This simple guide will tell you everything you need to know about the fourth of the future tenses, the future simple tense.
When is the future simple tense used?
The future simple tense is used when:
- 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
How is the future simple tense formed?
Tenses have three variations: Affirmative, Negative and Question
-Affirmative: Subject + will + base form of verb
You will run today; I will be there; They will enjoy it
-Negative: Subject + will + not + base form of verb
You will not run today; I won't be there; They will not enjoy it
- Question: Will + subject + base form of verb
Will you run today?; Will I be there?; Will they enjoy it?
Contracted forms are often used in the English language, and are usually seen as more natural (particularly in spoken English). The subject + will phrase (affirmative form) as well as "will not" (negative form) can be shortened (contracted). The contracted forms are as follows:
I will = I'll
He will = He'll
She will = She'll
It will = It'll
They will = They'll
We will = We'll
Notice that all of the contracted forms are formed by adding the subject + an apostrophe + will minus the first two letters.
Will not = Won't
There is no rule for the formation of "won't" â it's just needs to be remembered that this is the contracted form of "will not".
Note: Sentences are still corrected even if the contracted form is not used, so it is best to learn the rules, formations and uses of the different tenses properly and to not worry about contracted forms. These can be learnt later as a student becomes more comfortable with the language.
Keep it simple
It may seem that there is no simple way of learning the English tense system, but by taking one minor tense at a time and practicing its formation and different uses, one will find that the tense system can be learnt fairly quickly. Knowledge of parts of speech and the rules to form each tense is important in the beginning, and once these are fully remembered, practice will see the entire system becoming much easier to understand and use naturally and correctly.