Talking About the Future, Part 1: Present and Simple Future

In a recent post, I told you about the four present tenses and their ten uses. After that, I told you about the nine ways you can use the four past tenses. Now let’s look at future tense.

In English, the future tense is more flexible than the past or present tenses. What I mean by “flexible” is that there are many more ways to describe the future, compared to the past and present. You can describe the future with six different tenses instead of four. And there are 13 total uses for the tenses that describe future. The future is so flexible in English that you can even use two forms of the present tense to describe it.

All this flexibility is great. But it also means that mastering “future talk” is a bit more complicated than mastering “present talk” or “past talk” in English. So we’re going to study the future tense in three posts instead of just one. In this first post, we’ll look at the way that two present tenses and the simple future tense can be used to describe the future. These three tenses are listed below, with description of their grammar forms and uses.


Present Continuous

Form: Use a form of “to be” (am, is, are) + verb + ing. (Am doing, is thinking, are trying, and so on.)


Use 1: An action planned in the near future

EXAMPLES: The science fair is happening in the school auditorium this weekend. I am seeing the new movie this weekend.

Use 2: An expected future event. This is an event that is not necessarily planned by the speaker or writer, but is still something they expect will happen. While Use 1 of present continuous only deals with the near future, Use 2 can deal with events that will happen in near or distant future.

EXAMPLES: I think the research team is finishing its work sometime this evening. Some scientists believe the polar ice caps are melting completely within the next hundred years.


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Simple Present

Form: Just use the base form of the verb, adding an “s” if the subject before the verb is singular. (They leave, the woman leaves, and so on.)


Use 1: A scheduled future event. This is very similar to Use 1 of present continuous above. The difference is that Use 1 of present continuous usually describes events in the near future. Simple present can describe events in the near future or events that will happen a very long time from now.)

EXAMPLES: The wedding is next Monday. The millennium ends in the year 2999.


Simple Future

Form: Use will + the base form of the verb. (They will run, she will run, etc…)


Use 1: A future event.

EXAMPLE: I will see you tomorrow.

Use 2: A prediction of what may happen in the future.

EXAMPLE: My grandfather thinks it will rain soon.

Use 3: A promise of future action

EXAMPLE: I will finish cleaning my room before I go to bed tonight.

Use 4: A request for future action

EXAMPLE: Will you give me the financial report before you go home today?

Use 5: A threat to do something bad in the near future

EXAMPLE: If you bother me again, I will complain to your boss.

Use 6: Describing an event that happens often, and will probably happen again in the future. (This one really describes actions that happen again and again, past present and future, and is not strictly a future form. Because it’s a little different from other uses of simple future, I’ll give you several examples.)

EXAMPLES: In Korea and Japan, it will always rain a lot in the summer. She loves comic books, so she will talk a lot if you ask her about comics. The car will need an oil change every four months. I will usually take a shower in the morning.

In my next post, I’ll talk about the remaining three future tenses: future perfect, future perfect continuous, and future continuous.

I’ve found that students will always have a lot of questions about future tenses. If you have any questions about this post, don’t be shy! Ask your questions in the comment field below, or talk to me at my Google Plus page.

Ready for Part 2? Click here to learn about the Perfect and Continuous Futures.


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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

6 Responses to Talking About the Future, Part 1: Present and Simple Future

  1. Haseeb Ur Rehman June 25, 2020 at 6:23 pm #

    Very help full lesson about future.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 24, 2020 at 10:45 am #

      Glad you found it helpful!

  2. Vineeth Steephen October 16, 2020 at 12:10 pm #

    John and mark went out for dinner,
    They had it and john suggested to have some juice too.

    John to waiter: ” please let us know, the verities of fruit juice are available here”

    Waiter- Orange juice and pineapple juice

    mark: I am drinking pineapple juice, what about you john.

    I fell like the last sentence is right..But am confused if its wrong
    Please help me out

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 28, 2020 at 2:48 pm #

      Hi Vineeth, I’m afraid that we don’t have the capacity to provide proofreading services here. I’d recommend using or if you are looking for online proofreading services. If you have a specific grammatical question, we may be able to help.

  3. Jeshna June 8, 2021 at 10:02 am #

    Hi…I have a doubt regarding the use of present continuous tense for decided future actions and simple future tense.
    Eg. I’m going to India next week or I will go to India next week.
    Which 1 is correct?
    If both are correct, what is the difference in these two tenses?
    I’m a teacher and I have to explain each and every thing precisely to my students. Kindly help.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 17, 2021 at 6:37 pm #

      Hi Jeshna,

      This is a great question. 🙂 Both are correct. However, “I’m going to India next week,” suggests that the act of going to India has been decided before the conversation. In contrast, “I will go to India next week,” suggests that the decision has been made at the exact time of conversation. 🙂 But honestly, for either of the example sentences “will” or “am going to” are acceptable because they talk about doing something in the future.

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