Future forms

Future forms


As you watch the video, look at the examples of future forms. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, future forms correctly.


Oliver and Alfie decide to enter a bike race.

We have different ways of talking about the future. We often use going to (+ infinitive), the present continuous (to be + -ing) or will (+ infinitive). The structure we use depends on the function of what we want to say, whether we are talking about arrangements, plans, predictions, etc.

I thought will was the future tense in English.

It’s one of the ways of talking about the future, but there are a few others. Let’s look at will to start with. We use will / won’t (= will not) + the infinitive for predictions about the future.

Oliver’ll be back soon.
We won’t be ready.
Do you think it’ll rain this afternoon?

We also use will when we decide something at the moment of speaking.

(The doorbell rings) I’ll get it.

So, you sometimes use the verb think before will?

Yes, that’s very common. We also use: don’t think, expect, be + sure.

I’m sure you’ll have a good time.

You said will is used for decisions made at the moment of speaking. What about decisions made before the moment of speaking?

Then we can use either the present continuous or going to (+ infinitive).

Amy’s coming round.
We’re going to watch a film – want to join us?
What are you doing this evening?    

Is there a difference between them?

We use the present continuous more for arrangements with other people and be + going to + infinitive for intentions. Sometimes it’s important to choose the right structure, but often we could use either because many events are both arrangements and intentions.

Amy’s coming round. (= arrangement between Amy and Daisy)
Amy’s going to come round. (= Amy’s intention)
I’m going to clean my room tonight. (= intention)
I’m cleaning my room tonight. (not an arrangement)

So could I say 'I’m going to go to the cinema with Alex'?

Yes, that’s correct. But we usually avoid saying going to go, just because it doesn’t sound very elegant. We normally use the present continuous with go.

I’m going to the cinema with Alex.

And 'I will go to the cinema with Alex'?

No. We don’t use will for arrangements or intentions if the decision was made before the moment of speaking.

Oh, yes, you told me that before. Anything else?

Yes, there’s another use of going to. We use it for predictions too, especially when you can see something happening or about to happen.

Look out! You’re going to spill that coffee.

Can you use going to for other predictions?

Yes, sometimes both will and going to can be used.

I think the Green Party will win the election.
I think the Green Party are going to win the election.

OK, and one last thing! Is it correct to say, ‘When’s the race?’ That’s present simple, isn’t it?

Yes. You can use present simple for timetabled events.

My plane leaves at 4pm tomorrow.
The match starts at 8pm.

Phew! So sometimes you can use going to or the present continuous and sometimes you can use will or going to. And you can also use present simple for timetabled events. I’ll never understand the future!

I’m sure you will! You’re using it correctly already.


Total votes: 1164


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What are your plans for this weekend?


Mabdelaziz's picture

Hi.Really I like this website.
I want to ask something please.
Why I should say I don't think he will go the party and I can not say I think he will not go to the party.
Could you explain to me ,please.

43 users have voted.
Jo - Coordinator's picture

Hi Mabdelaziz! I'm so glad you like the website, thanks! :) We tend to put the negative with think (I don't think ...) and not later in the sentence.

I don't think it is... (not I think it's not...)
I don't think she knows. (not I think she doesn't know.)
I don't think he will go. (not I think he won't go.)

There's no explanation really, it's just the way we say it. The other options don't sound natural. Hope that helps! Best wishes, Joanna (LearnEnglish Teens team)

43 users have voted.
Jo - Coordinator's picture

Hi Polaris, sorry to hear you're having problems. I've checked the video and it's working fine for me. What kind of device are you using? And which browser do you have? Can you play other videos on the site? If you give us a bit more information that will help us investigate the problem.
Thanks, Joanna (LearnEnglish Teens team)

23 users have voted.
mossan's picture

On saturday morning I am going swimming with my family, after that I will go shopping for new glasses and makeup. On sunday I will most likely just chill at home. These are my weekend plans for now.

41 users have voted.
Tina - Coordinator's picture

Dear lekimkhanh0109,
It's great that you want to improve your English grammar :)
Have a go at all our activities in our Grammar & Vocabulary section and if you can do some daily you will notice a huge improvement on your understanding of English grammar and vocabulary!
Good luck ... Tina (LearnEnglish Teen Team)

54 users have voted.
hgsmf's picture

I am going back to my country after 2 weeks so I am going to do shopping and buy my clothes from the most famous shops and brands. Also I am in diet so I am going to do more exercises in this two weeks.

56 users have voted.
ealkan's picture

Hi guys! I'm Emirhan. I'm from Turkey. I have 2 siblings. No camels in Turkey. My favourite activity is rollerskating. I love it. I'm going to skate at Cumhuriyet Square in Yozgat with my friends. And I'm going to study for Maths, go to village. Goodbye :3

65 users have voted.
Jo - Coordinator's picture

Hi tahaahn72, I'm glad you like the page. Are you using wifi? Are you close enough to the signal for the video to load? Also, is there anyone else in your house using the internet that might be downloading things or using up a lot of bandwidth? That could make things load slowly.
Best wishes, Joanna (LearnEnglish Teens team)

78 users have voted.
NamTien2000's picture

Hi everybody, today is Sunday. In the morning, i am studying English to prepare exam next year. After finish study, i'm watching TV. My favourite film is "Tom and Jerry". It is showed at 12p.m

73 users have voted.
lincoln2000's picture

Hello :)
I've been revising future forms recently and this video really helped me to understand them. There is just one question I couldn't answer myself: Why is "going to" used in the sentence "I'm just going to get a pen so we can write our plan down"? Because it isn't a prediction or a decision made before the moment of speaking. Do you use it because it's an intention? Would it be possible to use the will future because it's a decision made at the moment of speaking?
Thanks in advance!

86 users have voted.
Jo - Coordinator's picture

Hi lincoln2000! I'm really glad you found this page helpful. You're exactly right - it is perfectly possible and natural-sounding to say 'I'll just get a pen' when it is a decision made at the moment of speaking. In this case Oliver probably decided to get a pen a few seconds before and then a moment later explained what he was doing. So for him it felt more like a plan or intention than a spontaneous decision. Does that make sense? Joanna (LearnEnglish Teens team)

84 users have voted.