There are a number of different ways of referring to the future in English. It is important to remember that we are expressing more than simply the time of the action or event. Obviously, any ‘future’ tense will always refer to a time ‘later than now’, but it may also express our attitude to the future event.
The simple future refers to a time later than now, and expresses facts or certainty. In this case there is no ‘attitude’.
The simple future is used:
- To predict a future event:
It will rain tomorrow.
- With I or We, to express a spontaneous decision:
I’ll pay for the tickets by credit card.
- To express willingness:
I’ll do the washing-up
- In the negative form, to express unwillingness:
The baby won’t eat his soup.
- With I in the interrogative form using “shall”, to make an offer:
Shall I open the window?
- With we in the interrogative form using “shall”, to make a suggestion:
Shall we go to the cinema tonight?
- With I in the interrogative form using “shall”, to ask for advice or instructions:
What shall I tell the boss about this money?
- With you, to give orders:
You will do exactly as I say.
- With you in the interrogative form, to give an invitation:
Will you come to the dance with me?
The future continuous is made up of two elements:
the simple future of the verb ‘to be’ + the present participle (base+ing)
The future continuous refers to an unfinished action or event that will be in progress at a time later than now. The future continuous is used for quite a few different purposes.
- The future continuous can be used to project ourselves into the future.
Eg: This time next week I will be sun-bathing in Bali.
- The future continuous can be used for predicting or guessing about future events.
Eg:You’ll be missing the sunshine once you’re back in England.
- In the interrogative form, the future continuous can be used to ask politely for information about the future.
Eg: Will I be sleeping in this room?
- The future continuous can be used to refer to continuous events that we expect to happen in the future.
Eg: I’ll be eating with Jane this evening so I can tell her.
- When combined with still, the future continuous refers to events that are already happening now and that we expect to continue some time into the future.
Eg: Next year will she still be wearing a size six?
The future perfect is composed of two elements
the simple future of the verb “to have” (will have) + the past participle of the main verb
The future perfect tense refers to a completed action in the future. When we use this tense we are projecting ourselves forward into the future and looking back at an action that will be completed some time later than now. It is most often used with a time expression.
- I will have been here for six months on June 23rd.
- By the time you read this I will have left.
Future Perfect Continuous
The future perfect continuous is composed of two elements
the future perfect of the verb “to be” (will have been) + the present participle of the main verb (base + ing)
Like the future perfect simple, this form is used to project ourselves forward in time and to look back. It refers to events or actions that are currently unfinished but will be finished at some future time. It is most often used with a time expression.
- By 2001 I will have been living in Delhi for sixteen years.
- When I finish this course, I will have been learning English for twenty years.