Simple Future

The Simple Future Tense

The Simple Future Tense is one of the three aspects of simple tenseOpens in new window. The simple future tense shows that an action will happen at some point in the future. Usually, words like tomorrow, next week, next month, in the coming years, etc. are used to indicate this verb tense.

To construct the simple future tense, the auxiliary verb willOpens in new window, is usually added in front of the main verb. We can use this tense to express future plans, habits, arrangements, etc. including predictions.

Observe these Examples:
  • I will visit the site tomorrow.
  • (This action will happen in the future.)
  • Media Chivaux will employ a secretary tomorrow.
  • (This action will happen in the future.)
  • We will relocate to Memphis next year.
  • (This action will happen in the future.)
  • When will Andy and Gift come home?
  • (I want to know when this action will happen in the future)
  • When I’m older, I’ll play with my grandchildren daily.
  • (This action will be a habit in the future.)

How to Make Use of The Simple Future Tense

In simple future tense, actions that will happen in future time are expressed by using willOpens in new window or be going to. However, shallOpens in new window may be used with I or we, but will/be going to is commonly used.

1.  Expression of Affirmative Statements with Simple Future Tense, Using ‘will’ To use ‘will’ in making an affirmative statement of simple future tense, the structure: will + simple form of verb is used.

Examples include:
  • Andy will come home after he closes at work.
  • I’ll fix your phone later in the day.
  • The train will depart soon.

2.  Expression of Negative Statements with Simple Future Tense, Using ‘will’. — To use ‘will’ in making a negative statement of simple future tense, the structure: will + not + simple form of verb is used. However, the contraction form ‘won’t’ of will not is used in some cases.

Examples include:
  • Andy will not come home after he closes at work.
  • I will not fix your phone today.
  • The train won’t depart any time soon.

3.  Expression of Interrogative Statements with Simple Future Tense, Using ‘will’ To use ‘will’ in making an interrogative statement of simple future tense, the structure: (interrogative word) + will + subject + simple form of verb is used.

Examples include:
  • Will Andy come home after he closes at work?
  • When will you fix my phone?
  • Who will take the kids home after school?

4.  Expression of Negative Interrogative Statements with Simple Future Tense, Using ‘will’ To use ‘will’ in making a negative interrogative statement of simple future tense, the structure: (interrogative word) + will not + subject + simple form of verb is used. In alternative, the contraction form ‘won’t’ of will not is used in most cases.

Examples include:
  • Won’t Andy come home after he closes at work?
  • Won’t you fix my phone today?
  • Who says I will not take the kids home after school?

Using be going to

1.  Expression of Affirmative Statements with Simple Future Tense, Using ‘be going to’ To use ‘be going to’ in making an affirmative statement of simple future tense, use any of the be verb i.e., am/is/are, as in the structure: am/is/are going to + simple form of verb.

See Practical Examples:
  • Andy is going to come home after he closes at work.
  • I’m going to repair your phone later in the day.
  • The train is going to depart soon.
  • Laurel and Effiong are going to come home for holiday.

2.  Expression of Negative Statements with Simple Future Tense, Using ‘be going to’ To use ‘be going to’ in making a negative statement of simple future tense, use any of the be verb i.e., am/is/are, as in the structure: am/is/are + not going to + simple form of verb.

See Practical Examples:
  • Andy is not going to come home after he closes at work.
  • I’m not going to repair your phone today.
  • The train is not going to depart soon.
  • Laurel and Effiong are not going to come home for holiday.

3.  Expression of Interrogative Statements with Simple Future Tense, Using ‘be going to’ To use ‘be going to’ in making an interrogative statement of simple future tense, use any of the be verb i.e., am/is/are, as in the structure: (interrogative word) + am/is/are + subject + going to + simple form of verb.

See Practical Examples:
  • Is Andy going to come home after he closes at work?
  • Are you going to fix my phone today?
  • When is the train going to depart?
  • Are Laurel and Effiong going to come home for holiday?
  • Who is going to take the kids home after school?

4.  Expression of Negative Interrogative Statements with Simple Future Tense, Using ‘be going to’ To use ‘be going to’ in making a negative interrogative statement of simple future tense, use any of the be verb i.e., am/is/are, as in the structure: (interrogative word) + am/is/are + subject + not going to + simple form of verb.

What's this?
See Practical Examples:
  • Is Andy not going to come home after he closes at work?
  • Are you not going to fix my phone today?
  • Are Laurel and Effiong not going to come home tomorrow for holiday?
  • Who says I’m not going to take the kids home after school?

Note that the Interrogatives are rarely used in formal contexts. Chances are you will seldom have needs to use them.

Simple Guidelines for Using Simple Future Tense

A.  When to Use Will, and Be going to.

Most times, will and be going to mean the same thing and other times they behave differently. Although there are a few times, however, that only one sounds right in American English.

The complete guidelines are a bit tangled and have a bunch of exceptions, but if you are strict in following the guidelines below, you’ll be okay nearly all of the time.

1.  Both will and be going to can be used when we think that a particular action will happen in the future (predictions).

See Practical Examples:
  • Effiong and Lola will come home for dinner.
  • Effiong and Lola are going to come home for dinner.
  • (These two sentences mean the same thing: I think Effiong and Lola will come home for dinner.)
  • The news channel forecasts that it will rain tomorrow.
  • The news channel forecasts that it is going to rain tomorrow.
  • (These two sentences mean the same thing: The weatherman for the news channel believes it will rain.)

2.  If you are offering to help or promising someone to do something, use will.

See Practical Examples:
  • Laurel: Oh, my Goodness! It’s already dark.
  • Andy: No stress dearie, I’m going to I’ll give you a ride home.
  • (Andy is offering to help, so he uses will. Be going to sounds strange here.)
  • Wendy: Help us, Superman! A giant robot is destroying Metropolis!
  • Superman: Have no fear! I’m going to I’ll stop him.
  • (Superman is offering to help, so he uses will. Be going to sounds strange here.)
  • Andy: Hey, Effiong, do you want to go to a movie tonight?
  • Effiong: Sure. I’m going to I’ll call you after I finish washing my Lamborghini.
  • (Effiong is promising to call, so he uses will. Be going to sounds strange here.)

3.  If you are describing a plan that was made in the past but will be completed in the future, it’s safer to use be going to. Will merely sounds awkward.

See Practical Examples:
  • Effiong: Andy! Why are you carrying that shotgun?
  • Andy: There’s a rodent in my room. I will I’m going to kill it!
  • (Andy made the plan to kill the rodent in the past, so he uses be going to. Will sounds wrong here.)

B.  Don’t use Future tense in time clauses.

A clauseOpens in new window is a grammatical structure which has a subject and a verb. A “time clause” begins with such words as when, before, after, as soon as, until. Usually, these words may be followed by a subject and verb, (i.e., When he comes, we will see him When + subject + verb = time clause).

Most time clauses are logical; past time clauses use past tenses, and present time clauses use present tenses, but future time clauses are strange; they don’t use future tenses. Instead, future time clauses usually use simple present. There is no logical reason for this. It is simply one of many dumb things about English. Sorry.

Examples of different types of time clauses:
Past time clauses:
  • I called my mom after I got home from work.
  • (Past time clauses are normal; they use past tenses.)
Present time clauses:
  • I usually call my mom after I get home from work.
  • (Present time clauses are normal; they use present tenses.)
Future time clauses:
  • I’ll call my mom tomorrow after I get home from work.
  • (Future time clauses are strange; they usually use simple present.)
  • Before I go to bed tonight, I’m going to write a letter to my brother.
  • (Future time clauses are strange; they usually use simple present.)
  • I’ll mow the lawn while you go shopping tomorrow.
  • (Future time clauses are strange; they usually use simple present.)
Occasionally, the present perfect is used in a time clause, as below:
Present tense
  • I will go to bed after I finish my work.
Present perfect
  • I will go to bed after I have finished my work.
The above two sentences have the same meaning. The present perfect stresses the completion of the act in the time clause before the other act occurs in the future. Once again, a future tense is NOT used in a time clause. The meaning of the clause is future, but the simple present tense is used.

C.  Don’t use Future tense in (most) future if-clauses

As with future time clauses, future if–clauses don’t use future tense. Past if–clauses use past tenses, present if–clauses use present tenses, but future if–clauses almost always use simple present. Other tenses are also possible, but they’re less common.

Observe carefully the following:

1.  Simple present in future if-clauses — Most future if-clauses use simple present. In fact, it’s so common that this is the only form that most ESL grammar books teach. If you’re writing a future if-clause and you’re not sure which tense to use, use simple present. You’ll probably be right.

See Practical Examples:
  • If Wendy buys a car next week, she’ll teach her sister how to drive.
  • (Future if-clauses usually use simple present.)
  • If I go to the store, I’ll buy some bananas for you.
  • (Future if-clauses usually use simple present.)
  • I’ll call you if I’m in town next week.
  • (Future if-clauses usually use simple present.)
  • Man: Why are you selling lemonade for $500.00 a glass? No one will buy it.
  • Boy: Maybe, but if I only get one customer, I’ll be rich!

2.  Present progressive in future if-clauses— When the action in a future if-clause is going to start first and still be in progress when the other action happens, then we use present progressive to show this. For this meaning, we can’t use simple present.

See Practical Examples:
  • If you drive you’re driving when the next earthquakes hits, you should pull over to the side of road and wait until the shaking stops.
  • (We use present progressive here to show that the driving will start before the next earthquake and this action may be in progress when the earthquake happens. We can’t use simple present here.)
  • We’ll go to a movie at 8:00 if Effiong doesn’t study isn’t studying.
  • (We use present progressive to show that we’ll go to the movie if Effiong’s studying is not in progress when it’s time to leave. We can’t use simple present here.)
  • If Andy and Gift eat are eating when we arrive, maybe they’ll invite us for dinner!
  • (We use present progressive to show that maybe Victor and Glady’s dinner will be in progress when we get there. We can’t use simple present to show this meaning.)