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.


You voted 2. Total votes: 998


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What are your plans for this weekend?


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)

13 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.

16 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

23 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)

37 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

38 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!

47 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)

44 users have voted.
Jo - Coordinator's picture

Hi lebau123 and welcome to LearnEnglish Teens! After you write your comment you have to wait a little while for it to be moderated. We check all our comments before we publish them to make sure they don't break the House rules. We try to do it as quickly as possible and you should never have to wait more than 24 hours. Why don't you choose a page that it interesting for you and try to answer the discussion question? Looking forward to reading more of your comments! :)
Joanna (LearnEnglish Teens team)

54 users have voted.
JoEditor's picture

Hi ferilin,
Sorry - you can't download the videos but you can watch them as often as you like online. 
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 

50 users have voted.
barbiedoll10's picture

I am definetely going to go out to a club on Saturday with friends. Then, I will probably finsih my book "The sleeping Murder" and I will get used to drinking new Herbalife Shake :)

55 users have voted.
Alodia121's picture

This weekend I'm going to go shopping because I have celebrations between this month and the next month. Also I'm going to meet with friend and if I got time I will finish to read the book that I started, to finish I'm going to study and do my homework but I don't really like it.

61 users have voted.
Katana's picture

Hello to everyone...
Well, this weekend will be very borring; I have too much homework...
Is there anyone who would like to do it??????? :-/
Except that, I'm going to play to AGE OF EMPIRES III, and that will be the most interesting part of the weekend...8-)

THanks for reading my comment..

66 users have voted.
Llifeisshort's picture

This weekend I've been studying A LOT...I mean, I didn't even get a chance to relax..I just hope that I will do good at the exams tomorrow..Hopefully, I'll get some sleep too.

71 users have voted.