English Tenses for Beginners: The Future

The “future tense” is also an important English tense. You use it when you talk about things and events that will happen in the future. The “future tense” is also important for events that started in the present or past and continue to the future. The most important future tenses are the “will” future and “going to” future tense. Again, we will also tell you some “signal words” to make it easier for you to see the differences.

Future Simple I + II (“will” & “going to”)

The “Future Simple” is the most important future tense in English. You use it for predictions, thoughts, and decisions about the future. Depending on how sure you are that the event or action will happen, you’ll have to choose between the “will” and “going to” form.

“will” Future: (Future Simple I)

This is the most used future tense. You don’t have to be very sure that the event or action will happen in the future. It is ok if you only think that it will happen. It is formed with “will” + verb.

  • Statement: You will look fabulous in that dress.
  • Negative Statement: She will not/won’t talk to him.
  • Question: Will you listen to them?

Used for:

1) Thoughts and hopes for the future

  • They’ll probably come back tomorrow.
  • I think he’ll arrive at 5 pm.
  • He hopes that she will have the presentation ready by tomorrow.
  • We guess that it will stop raining in the afternoon.
  • Who do you think will get the job?

2) Promises

  • I will do my homework this evening.
  • He will look after his sister.
  • They promise they will clean up the kitchen.

3) Actions in the future that cannot be influenced

  • It will probably rain tomorrow.
  • We won’t be able to go hiking today due to the heavy snowfall last night.
  • She’s got the flu, so won’t be able to go to school tomorrow.

4) Spontaneous Decisions

  • Please wait for a second. I’ll get a pen and paper. 
  • She’ll maybe cook dinner for us tonight.
  • I’ll go and grab a cup of coffee for us.

Signal Words:

  • in a year, next Saturday, tomorrow, …
  • I think, guess, assume
  • probably, perhaps
  • Hold on, Wait (for spontaneous decisions

“going to” Future: (Future Simple II)

You use the “going to” future tense when you are completely sure that the event or action will happen in the future. It is formed with “going to” + verb.

  • Statement: He is going to the party.
  • Negative Statement: He isn’t going to buy some milk.
  • Question: Is he going to tell her?

Used for:

1) Decisions or planned actions/events in the future

  • I’m going to leave for work now.
  • She’s going to have her car tires changed this afternoon.
  • They are going to go to the homecoming dance this weekend.

2) Logical results

  • The train still hasn’t arrived yet. I’m going to be late for work.
  • The sky is so dark outside. It’s going to rain anytime soon.
  • He’s already starving. He’s going to make himself a sandwich right after he finished this task.

Signal Words:

  • yesterday, next… (week, year, etc.)
  • I’m sure/certain