The future tense is a verb tense that describes actions that will take place in the future – this can be both the near future and the far future!
For example, take a look at these sentences:
‘I will play football.’
‘I am going to the birthday party.’
Even though there are no adverbs or descriptive words to indicate when these actions will happen, we can see that it will be some time in the future.
What are the four types of future tense?
There are four key future tense types: the simple future tense, the future progressive tense, the future perfect tense, and the future perfect progressive. In this next bit, we’ll go over each of them in detail and provide some examples of how they might be used:
1) Simple future tense
It’s used to talk about things that haven’t happened yet and will occur at some point in the future.
It generally relies on the word ‘will’ to indicate that something will happen in the future. For example:
I will go to the park tomorrow.
My dad will regret buying that shirt.
Katie will start university in September.
Simple future tense can also be expressed using the phrase ‘going to,’ as exemplified below:
I am going to learn to ski.
Oliver is going to get his degree.
Mum is going to see that movie tomorrow.
And with the addition of the word ‘not,’ we can turn the simple future tense into the simple future negative. Here are some examples of this:
I am not going to learn to ski.
Mum will not see that movie.
I will not finish my homework.
2) Future perfect tense
The future perfect tense uses the phrase ‘will have’ to indicate that a task will be finished before another one begins. Sentences in the future perfect tense are linked with temporal adjectives, like ‘by’ and ‘before.’ They connect the two tensed phrases. Here are some examples of this:
I will have baked this cake by this evening.
I will have hung my washing by the time you arrive.
3) Future Perfect Continuous (Progressive)
This describes events that will have been taking place over a long time without being finished.
4) Future Continuous (Progressive)
The future continuous tense describes things that will continue to take place over time. Here are a few examples of this form of the future tense in action:
‘I will be eating breakfast in the dining room.’
‘I will be traveling.’
Other ways to form the future tense:
Besides the four main forms of the future tense, there are also a few other ways that we can talk about things happening in the future:
Present Continuous for the Future
Although technically a present tense, the present continuous tense is often used to discuss future arrangements. This means an appointment or plan you have made to take place in the future. These can be arrangements between two people or between one person and a group. For example:
I’m meeting Katie tomorrow. (An understanding between two people)
I am spending Christmas with my mother-in-law this year. (An account with a group of people)
It’s not always necessary to be specific about whom the arrangements are with:
We are staying at home this summer.
I’m looking forward to seeing the Grand Canyon.
The present continuous tense is often used to describe something which the speaker is about to start doing:
I’m going to bed now.
I’m leaving to pick up Jane.
Usually, time expressions are used with the present continuous tense to discuss future arrangements.
We’re off to Tenerife this summer.
What are you doing for Christmas?
Present Simple for the Future
We can also use the present simple tense to talk about the future. It’s used to indicate when a particular event is happening in the future. This might be on a timetable or in someone’s diary:
The plane leaves at 10 pm.
I start my new job next week.
The present simple for the future has the same general structure as any use of present simple, but it includes a future adverb denoting time: “at 10 pm” or “next week.”
The future tense denoting likely to is used to refer to events that are probably going to happen in the future. For example, you might say:
I’m probably going to skip the party.
Children with wealthy parents are more likely to get a good education.
This is used to identify events and plans that aren’t certain but are more likely to happen than not.