Simple Future Tense. Free English Lesson with Test and Certificate.
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How to use the simple future tense in English
There are two ways to express the simple future tense in English. This lesson gives lots of examples to help you understand. The simple future tense is very popular in conversations.
Here’s a few examples.
- I will go to the cinema tonight.
- He will play basketball tomorrow.
- Are you going to meet Jane tonight?
- You are not going to meet Jane tonight.
- Who are you going to invite to the party?
- I will call you when I arrive.
- School will not be open tomorrow.
Your English lesson about the Simple Future Tense
Welcome to the Simple Future tense lesson! In this lesson, we will cover many of the uses of the simple future tense.
The simple future tense has two different forms in English: "will" and "be going to."
Both "will" and "be going to" refer to a specific time in the future. The two forms can sometimes be used in the same way, but it is important to notice that they often express different meanings. These different meanings might be confusing, but with time and practice, the differences will become clear.
Let’s begin with the “will” form of the future tense. This is constructed like this:
[will + verb]
I will go to the cinema tonight.
He will play basketball tomorrow.
She will be happy with her exam results.
They will take the bus next week.
The “be going to” form looks like this:
[am/is/are + going to + verb]
You are going to meet Jane tonight.
Are you going to meet Jane tonight?
You are not going to meet Jane tonight.
Now, let’s look at some situations and learn when will and be going to are usually used.
First, we usually use will for actions that we decide to do at the moment we are speaking.
I will go to the library now.
I will call a taxi for you.
Thanks, but I don’t need a ride, I will walk home.
I think we will go now. (You just decided this right now)
In contrast, we use be going to if we planned to take the action before speaking. This might seem like a very minor difference, but look at the examples and I think you will start to see how they are different.
I am going to go to the library after my mother comes home from work.
Your aunt is going to call a taxi for you after dinner.
He is going to pick me up after school today.
Who are you going to invite to the party?
Notice how these forms with “be going to” express a future plan that was already made, but the “will” forms express an action that someone has just decided to perform.
Next, when we think or believe something about the future and it is based on opinion, will is usually preferred. If we think something will happen because we can see or hear some evidence right now, we use ‘be going to’.
I think it is going to rain - I just felt a drop.
I just received a letter in the mail, and guess what, I’m going to study in America!
They're going to retire on the beach - in fact they have already bought a little beach house.
I just had a meeting with my teacher, and she is going to give me an A on my oral exam.
When you review these sentences, notice that the “be going to” examples express predictions about the future based on facts as well as things we have already decided to do. This can be seen if someone wants to express that something is a plan. It doesn’t matter if the plan is realistic or not. Here are a few more examples.
I'm going to be an actor when I grow up.
Michelle is going to begin medical school next year.
They are going to drive all the way to Alaska.
Q: Who is going to make John's birthday cake?
A: Sue is going to make John's birthday cake.
On the other hand, we usually use “will” instead of “be going to” when we want to make an offer, a promise, or a threat. Sometimes you can think of an offer or a promise as an action that you are willing to do or a voluntary action.
If you don’t finish your homework your teacher will be angry.
I'll drive you to work if you want.
I will call you when I arrive.
I promise I will not tell him about the surprise party.
Don't worry, I'll be careful.
Will you help me move this heavy table?
Will you make dinner?
There are a few questions and negative sentences included in the above examples. To form a negative sentence with ‘will’, we add the word ‘not’ to the end of will instead of the main verb. Here are a few more examples of the simple future tense:
I will not be in the office tomorrow. Correct
I will be not in the office tomorrow. Incorrect
They will not stay here. Correct
They will stay not here. Incorrect
To form a question using ‘will’, we must reverse the order of the subject and ‘will’. In a question, will should be placed before the subject.
He will be here tomorrow.
Will he be here tomorrow?
Notice in the following examples the format of how to respond to a question in the simple future tense.
Will they win the championship?
- Yes, they will.
- No, they won't.
Will you tell the truth?
- Yes, I will.
- No, I won't.
Will she get angry?
- Yes, she will.
- No, she won't.
More simple future tense exercises
Now let’s move on to contractions. You have probably already noticed a few contractions in the example sentences. Contractions are very common in spoken English, and this is particularly true with the simple future tense. It is possible to use contractions in both positive and negative sentences.
With positive contractions will becomes 'll (apostrophe ll) and is joined to the subject:
I will becomes I'll
You will becomes you'll
He will becomes he'll
With negative contractions, will not becomes won't
I won’t be on time today.
I won’t go to school today because I’m sick.
They won’t win the basketball game because their best player is injured.
Next, here are a few unique examples. A common use of be going to is when something is about to happen.
Get back! The bomb is going to explode.
Are you going to eat that piece of cake?
But, we use will for a future fact:
The sun will rise tomorrow.
School will be closed tomorrow.
Finally, as you have learned in this lesson, we use be going to if we are predicting something based on facts or evidence, but we use will if the prediction is based on only opinion. However, sometimes both of these forms can be used to make a general prediction about the future. Predictions are guesses about what might happen in the future. In this type of prediction sentence, the subject usually has little control over the future.
This will be a very interesting year.
This is going to be a very interesting year.
John Smith will be the next President.
John Smith is going to be the next President.
It will take a long time to become fluent in English.
It’s going to take a long time to become fluent in English.
Remember, like all future forms, the simple future cannot be used in clauses beginning with time expressions such as: when, while, before, after, by the time, as soon as, if, unless, etc. Instead of simple future, simple present is used.
When you will arrive tonight, we will study. Not Correct
When you arrive tonight, we will study. Correct
It’s story time
Now that we’ve learned a lot about the simple future tense, let’s see how this is used in a short story. As you read the following story, pay attention to how the simple future tense is used.
“Lisa, what are you going to do this weekend?” Jill asked. Lisa cheerfully responds, “I’m going to go to the movies this weekend.” That sounds like fun to Jill, and she had heard that it is going to rain all weekend, so going to the movies sounds great.
“Will you have any free time this weekend?” Lisa asked Jill. “Will you come with me?” Sadly, Jill is going to be busy all weekend.
Jill is going to study at an American university. It won’t be easy, but she will do whatever it takes to make her dream come true.
So, on Saturday, she is going to study English for two hours from 9:00 until 11:00. Then, at 12:30 she is going to go to math school. Her father will pick her up from math school at 2:30 and then he will drop her off at chemistry class at 3:00. She will probably have to walk home after chemistry class. Her mother told her that they will have pizza for dinner on Saturday, but after dinner, Jill is going to prepare for her history test.
“I won’t have time for the movies this weekend,” Jill told Lisa. “I promised my father that I will get all A’s in school this year.”
“The movie will start at 11:00 on Saturday,” Lisa responded. “Will you call me if you change your mind?” Jill agrees to call, but she already knows that she won’t be able to go.
That’s the end of the lesson on the simple future tense.
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