Sunday, December 4, 2016

Talking about the future

Hello! Today’s post is about how we express the future in English. The main ways in which we talk about the future are present continuous, “going to” and “will”. They are not used interchangeably, however. In this post I am going to explain how we use each of them.

Present continuous
As you probably know, we form it with the verb “to be” in the present and the main verb ending in –ing. We use it for things that we have decided and arranged to do, set plans. For example, if we have tickets or reservations. An example would be “I am having dinner with my friends this evening”. In this case I have dinner plans and I might even have a reservation at the restaurant.

Going to
We form sentences with “going to” with the verb “to be” in the present + going to + the main verb in infinitive. We use it for things that we have decided to do but perhaps have not arranged. For example, if I say “I am going to talk to the professor after class”, it means that I have decided to talk to him/her when class is over but probably I haven’t set up a meeting with the professor.

We also use it when we know something from the current situation. For example, if I go outside and I see that it’s really cloudy and dark I might say “it’s going to rain”. I know that it’s going to rain because I have signs in front of me that tell me so.

We form sentences with “will” with will and the main verb in infinitive. Very often we shorten it to “’ll” in speech and informal texts. In negative sentences we use “will not” or “won’t”. We use it when we have just decided to do something, spontaneous decisions. For example, if I say “I will close the door”, I hadn’t previously planned to close it. I just decided it.

We also use it for predictions about the future. For example, “in five years everyone will have a self-driving car”. Unlike with “going to” there is no indication in the present that tells me that this is what is going to happen. It is just what I think the future will look like.

In conclusion, we use present continuous for things that we have arranged, fixed plans. We use “going to” for things that we have decided to do but not arranged, for plans. Finally, we use “will” for spontaneous decisions and predictions.

I hope you found this post useful. If you’d like more information you can watch my tutorial in the video section or directly on YouTube. Thank you for reading.

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