Future tenses – part one

English students learn WILL for Future Tense and they often don’t know that native speakers also use Present Continuous and Present Simple when they are talking and writing about the future. As a result, students overuse WILL. Look at the following sentences:
1. What are you doing?
2. What are you doing tonight?
3. What are you going to do?

Sentences 1. 2. & 3. all use Present Continuous (are doing” & “are going”). However, sentences 2 and 3 refer to the future.

 * Simply add a Future Time Marker (tonight, tomorrow, next year, later, etc.) to Present Continuous and you are talking or asking about Future Plans or Arrangements:

What are you doing tonight?

Are you going to the party on Saturday?

What are you cooking for dinner tomorrow?

I’m seeing the doctor this Friday about my headaches.

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 * BE Going to + Base Infinitive is always Future. A Future Time Marker is not necessary, but can be used for information.

What are you going to do?

I’m going to travel to India one day.

After work, I’m going to go home and watch TV.

The President is going to completely change the Health system.

I’m going to be a movie star when I leave school.

The above structure shows future plans, but not  always arrangements.

I’m going to travel to India one day. (I want to go some time in the future, but I don’t know when. I haven’t bought a plane ticket.)

After work, I’m going to go home and watch TV. (That’s what I want! I hope no-one visits me.)

The President says that he is going to completely change the Health Department. (That’s his plan now, but he might change his mind.)

I’m going to be a football star when I leave school. (This is my dream, like thousands of other boys.)

*************************************

For information on Be Going to + Base Infinitive for predictions, and ‘gonna’ click here.

To test yourself with English Exercises, click here.

I will explain Present Simple for Future in my next post: Future tenses – part two (soon, I promise!)

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This entry was posted in Grammar, Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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