Want to message your friend about a vacation plan for the coming summer? Thinking of writing an email to your boss requesting a leave the following Monday? Which tense are you going to use? There is constant confusion among English learners about the use of tenses. For the situations presented above, you must employ the future tense. Edulyte explains comprehensively and efficiently the different types of future tense and how you can use them effectively
Introduction to the Future Tense: the key to clear communication
The future tense is a grammatical concept that indicates actions, events, or states expected to occur after the present moment. It is a verb form that allows us to discuss and describe future events or possibilities.
Importance and Relevance of the Future Tense in Communication
The future tense plays a crucial role in our everyday lives as it allows us to express our intentions, plans, predictions, and expectations about the future. Using the future tense, we can convey information about upcoming events and discuss hypothetical situations that have not yet occurred.
For instance, when someone says, “I will help you with your project,” they express their intention to assist in the future. It allows us to discuss future goals, aspirations, and ambitions and make predictions or speculate about what may happen.
It allows us to discuss plans, strategies, and forecasts in various professional settings. Furthermore, when discussing schedules, timetables, or making arrangements, the future tense helps us communicate effectively by indicating when specific events or actions will occur.
The future tense also plays a significant role in storytelling and narrative writing. It allows authors and speakers to create suspense, foreshadow events, and describe future actions or situations from the perspective of characters or narrators.
Types of future tense
There are 4 types of future tense that you can use in English. Each has its specific use. Uncover their explanations with examples below.
Simple Future Tense: express tomorrow’s possibilities today
The simple future tense expresses actions or events that will happen later. It indicates a simple statement about the future without any additional information or emphasis on the duration of the action. It is formed using the auxiliary verb “will” or “shall”, followed by the base form of the main verb.
- I will travel to Paris next month.
- She shall complete her assignment by tomorrow.
- They will meet at the park this evening.
Future Continuous Tense: unleash the full potential of your words by using it
The future continuous tense describes actions that will be ongoing or in progress at a specific point. It emphasises the duration or continuity of an activity that will be happening over a period of time. It is formed by using the auxiliary verb “will” or “shall” with the verb “be” and the present participle form (-ing) of the main verb.
- He will be studying for his exams tomorrow evening.
- We shall be working on the project throughout the week.
- They will be travelling to Spain next summer.
Future Perfect Tense: harness its power through simple explanations and examples
The future perfect tense expresses an action completed or finished before a specific time or event. It denotes an activity that will have happened at a particular time. The auxiliary verb “will” or “shall” and the verb “have”, along with the past participle form of the main verb, come together to form the future perfect tense.
- By the time you leave, I will have finished cooking dinner.
- They shall have completed the construction of the building by next year.
- She will have written her book before the end of this month.
Future Perfect Continuous Tense: discover its use and build your English skills
The future perfect continuous tense describes ongoing actions that will continue until a specified time. It emphasises the duration of an activity that will be ongoing and in progress until a particular point. The auxiliary verbs “will” or “shall” with the verb “have been” and the present participle form (-ing) of the main verb come together to make the future perfect continuous tense.
- By the time they arrive, we will have been waiting for two hours.
- She shall have been practising the piano for three years by next month.
- They will have been living in that house for a decade by the end of this year.
Comparison of Future Tenses
English grammar offers several tenses to express different aspects of future actions or events when discussing the future. Let’s compare the four main future tenses – simple future, future continuous, future perfect, and future perfect continuous – and highlight their differences.
Simple Future Tense
Used for general future actions
will/shall+ base form of verb
I will go to the party tomorrow.
Future Continuous Tense
Describes ongoing action that will be in progress at a specific time in future
will/shall +be+ present participle (ing) form of main verb
They will be studying for the exam at 8 p.m. tomorrow.
Future Perfect Tense
Describes action that will be completed before some other point in the future.
will/shall+ have+ past participle form of verb
She will have finished her work by the time you leave.
Future Perfect Continuous Tense
Describes actions that will continue till a point of time in future.
will/shall+ have been + present participle (ing) form of verb
They will have been waiting for three hours when the movie starts.
In summary, the differences between the future tenses can be categorised as follows:
- Simple future is used for general future actions, while future continuous expresses ongoing actions.
- Future perfect denotes the completion of an action by a specific time, while future perfect continuous highlights the ongoing duration of an action until a particular time.
Check out the infographics created to further make the future tense an easy concept for you.
Usage Tips and Common Mistakes: become a pro at future tense
Even the best of us can make mistakes with tenses. So get the Edulyte advantage of avoiding the mistakes that others make. With the strategies provided, you can be assured of writing error free sentences.
- Be clear and specific: When using the future tense, it is essential to be clear and specific about the time or event you are referring to. Use time markers or adverbs to provide context and clarity. For example, avoid saying, “I will do it later,” instead say, “I will do it after I finish my meeting.”
- Consider the level of certainty: The future tense allows for expressing varying degrees of certainty. Use phrases like “might,” “may,” or “probably” to indicate uncertainty or possibility, and words like “will” or “definitely” to demonstrate a high level of certainty. For example, He will probably come to the party tonight, versus She will definitely be at the meeting.
- Consider the verb form: Ensure you use the correct verb form in the future tense. Remember to use the base form of the main verb after “will” or “shall.” Avoid common mistakes like using the present tense form in the future tense, such as saying I will goes instead of I will go.
Some common errors and mistakes that learners often encounter while using the future tense:
- Overusing “will”: Students often rely too heavily on the auxiliary verb “will” when forming the future tense. Remember that “shall” can also be used, particularly in formal or legal contexts, with the first-person pronoun “I.” For example, I shall attend the meeting tomorrow.
- Confusing the future tense with present intentions: Be careful not to confuse present intentions with future actions. For example, I’m going to the gym tomorrow” expresses a present intention rather than the future tense. Use “will” or “shall” to indicate future actions instead, such as “I will go to the gym tomorrow.”
- Omitting time markers: Future tense sentences need more clarity with time markers or adverbs. For instance, instead of saying, I will call you, it’s clearer to say, I will call you later this evening.
- Failing to match verb tenses in reported speech: Ensure that the verb tense is appropriately adjusted when reporting someone’s future statement.
- Forgetting about alternative future forms: Remember that the future tense can also be expressed using the present progressive tense, especially when discussing scheduled events or future plans. For example, We are meeting tomorrow, or She is going to the conference next week.
Expressing Future Time: Time Markers and Adverbs: Get their list to level up your language
When using the future tense, incorporating time markers and adverbs can provide meaningful context and help specify when a future action or event will occur. These linguistic tools add clarity and precision to your communication.
A list of commonly used time markers and adverbs associated with the future tense:
- Tomorrow: I will meet you tomorrow.
- Next week/month/year: She is travelling to Europe next month.
- In the future: We will discuss this matter in the future.
- Soon: He will return home soon.
- Eventually: They will resolve the issue eventually.
- By [specific time]: They will finish the project by Friday.
- Soon: We will soon arrive at our destination.
- Later: I will call you later today.
- Eventually: They will eventually find a solution.
- Gradually: The weather will gradually improve.
Phrases and Clauses:
- In a few hours/days/weeks: He will arrive in a few hours.
- Before long: Before long, you will understand.
- In the near/far future: In the near future, we will implement new policies.
- In the coming years/decades: Renewable energy will become more prevalent in the coming years.
Future Tense in Reported Speech: learn easy ways to change the verb forms
When reporting someone’s statement or thoughts in indirect or reported speech, the verb forms must be adjusted to reflect the change from direct to indirect speech. It includes transforming the future tense to match the tense appropriate for reporting what was said or thought. Here’s how the verb forms change when converting direct to indirect speech.
Demonstrating how to change the verb forms when converting direct speech to indirect speech:
Simple Future Tense: In direct speech, the simple future tense uses “will” or “shall” + the base form of the verb. When converting it to indirect speech, the verb forms change as follows:
- I will come tomorrow. (direct speech)
- She said she would come the next day. (indirect speech)
In the indirect speech, “will” is changed to “would” to match the past tense of the reporting verb, and “tomorrow” is changed to “the next day” to reflect the time shift.
Future Continuous Tense: In direct speech, the future continuous tense uses “will” or “shall” + “be” + present participle (-ing) form of the verb. When converting it to indirect speech, the verb forms change as follows:
- She will be waiting for us. (direct speech)
- She said she would be waiting for us. (indirect speech)
In the indirect speech, “will be” is changed to “would be”, and the verb “waiting” remains in the present participle form (-ing).
Future Perfect Tense: In direct speech, the future perfect tense uses “will” or “shall” + “have” + past participle form of the verb. When converting it to indirect speech, the verb forms change as follows:
- I will have finished by then. (direct speech)
- He said he would have finished by then. (indirect speech)
In the indirect speech, “will have” is changed to “would have,” and the past participle form “finished” remains the same.
Future Perfect Continuous Tense: In direct speech, the future perfect continuous tense uses “will” or “shall” + “have been” + present participle (-ing) form of the verb. When converting it to indirect speech, the verb forms change as follows:
- They will have been working hard. (direct speech)
- She said they would have been working hard. (indirect speech)
In the indirect speech, “will have been” is changed to “would have been,” and the present participle form “working” remains the same.
- The future tense talks about actions or events that will happen in the future.
- It is formed by using “will” or “shall” and the base form of the verb.
- The future tense expresses predictions, plans, intentions, expectations, and future possibilities.
- Time indicators such as tomorrow, next week, next year, etc., are often used with the future tense.
- In negative sentences, “will not” or “won’t” indicates that something will not happen in the future.
- The future tense can also be used with phrases like “going to” to indicate planned or intended future actions.
- Modal verbs like “might,” “may,” or “could” can be used to express future possibility or uncertainty.
- It is critical to be aware of the difference between the simple future tense and the future continuous tense, as they convey different meanings.
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Frequently Asked Questions
In English, the future tense is formed using the auxiliary verbs “will” or “shall”, followed by the base form of the main verb. The specific formation depends on the subject of the sentence:
- I will study for the exam tomorrow.
- They will not attend the meeting.
- Will you join us for dinner?
The different verb forms used in the future tense depend on the specific aspect of the future being expressed. Here are the primary verb forms used in the future tense:
- Simple Future Tense: will/shall + base form of the main verb. Example: She will dance at the party.
- Future Continuous Tense: will/shall + be + present participle (-ing) form of the main verb. Example: I will be studying for the exam tomorrow.
- Future Perfect Tense: will/shall + have + past participle form of the main verb. Example: He will have finished the project by Friday.
- Future Perfect Continuous Tense: will/shall + have been + present participle (-ing) form of the main verb. Example: They will have been waiting for three hours when the movie starts.
You should use the future tense in a sentence when you want to indicate actions, events, or states that will occur or be accurate in the future. Here are some everyday situations in which the future tense is used:
- Future actions: Use the future tense to express actions that will happen later. Example: I will meet you at the airport tomorrow.
- Predictions and speculation: Use the future tense to predict or speculate about future outcomes. Example: It will rain tomorrow.
- Future plans and intentions: Use the future tense to express plans, intentions, or decisions for the future. Example: I will start a new job next month.
- Promises and commitments: Use the future tense to make promises or commitments for the future. Example: I will meet you tomorrow.
- Scheduled events: Use the future tense to discuss scheduled or planned events. Example: The concert will take place next weekend.
- Conditional statements: Use the future tense in conditional statements that refer to future hypothetical situations. Example: If I get this job, I will travel the world.
No. The future tense does not have irregular verbs.
Yes, the future tense is used to talk about future plans and predictions. Here’s how the future tense can be used in these contexts:
- I will travel to Europe next summer.
This sentence indicates a future plan to travel to Europe.
- They will win the championship this year.
This sentence expresses a prediction that the team will win the championship in the future.
To make negative sentences in the future tense, you need to add “not” after the auxiliary verb “will” or “shall.” Here’s the structure for negative sentences in the future tense:
Subject + will/shall + not + base form of the main verb.
- She will not attend the meeting.
- They will not finish the project on time.
Various time expressions are commonly used with the future tense to indicate when an action or event will occur. Here are some examples:
- Tomorrow: I will go shopping tomorrow.
- Next week/month/year: She will start her new job next month.
- In the future: We will see advancements in technology in the future.
- Soon: They will arrive soon.
- Sentence Completion: Write or complete sentences using the future tense. For example, you can take a sentence stem-like “Tomorrow, I will…” and complete it with an appropriate action.
- Conversation Practice: Engage in conversations with a partner where you discuss your future plans, predictions, or upcoming events using the future tense.
- Future Tense Story: Write a short story or paragraph using the future tense. Create a narrative that incorporates various future actions or events.
- Future Tense Quiz: Take online quizzes or create your quiz to test your knowledge of the future tense. It can help you identify areas where you may need further practice. Edulyte’s English trainers have created a valuable resource to test your understanding of the future tense. Go ahead and attempt it!