How to talk about the future

THE FUTURE


That's a big word. One that right now is full of uncertainty, but I suppose it's always been that way, right? The only thing sure about the future is that in English there are quite a few ways to refer to it, even though we all seem to be stuck on "will" and "going to". Today I'm going to run you through a quick crash course on how to use the future like a native so you can stop sounding like your high school grammar book😝.

 

Plans

The future often seems like one big plan, and it often doesn't play out as we would like. But when you organize a future plan, independently of how it really turns out, the best way to talk about it is using the following two tenses:

  • I'm going trekking this weekend - present continuous + future time expression

  • I'm going to go trekking this weekend - future form "be going to"

These next two sentences are different from the first two, as they don't talk about specific plans, they just refer to an idea about the future.

  • [I think] I'll go trekking this weekend - future form "will"

  • When I have time, I'll go trekking - future time expression + "will"

 

Schedules

What would we all be without our busy schedules? We are constantly updating our agenda, many of us even have to look at it before we arrange to meet a friend for coffee. So how do we refer to what our schedule has in store for us for the week?

  • The barbeque starts at 14:00, don't be late - present simple + specific time

  • We're leaving the house at 13:00 - present continuous + specific time

  • I'll be cooking when you arrive [at 13:45] - future continuous + future time reference

 

Predictions

As nobody has a crystal ball, many of our conversations about the future are just our thoughts about what might happen. We have two ways to talk about these, and depending on the context, the form you choose should change.


Very probable future events, based on concrete evidence - to be going to

Look how dark the sky is! It's going to rain, we should go inside.


The dark sky is my current evidence, so I can make a prediction that will probably come true in the future. Maybe it won't, but like I said, nobody has a crystal ball. On the other hand, if I want to make a prediction based purely on my opinion or on my own experience, but don't have any factual evidence yet, I should choose will.


Future probability based on opinion or experience - will

It will [probably] rain on the Monday after Easter, it always does.

 

There are many more future forms and ways to talk about the future, but with these you should be able to talk about most run of the mill situations. I hope that all of you have a lovely Easter (whether your holidays start tomorrow or you just have Monday off), and let's hope that it doesn't rain on Pasquetta for all my Italian readers!

 

Glossary

  • to play out: phrasal verb for - to happen

  • to have in store [for someone/thing]: to have something prepared (for one) or awaiting (one) for the future

  • run of the mill: normal, average


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