All that you should know about the rules and uses of the future tense

1. Present simple and continuous

• You use the present simple to talk about official fixed timetables and scheduled events, e.g. train timetables, TV programmes, cinema schedules, etc.

1- Spiderman starts at 17.10.

2- When does the coach arrive in Bristol?

• You use the present continuous to talk about personal plans and arrangements you’ve made for the future. Often you mention the time or place.

I’m meeting my brother at ten. (That’s what we arranged.)

2. Going to and will

• You use going to to talk about general plans you’ve already made for the future. You also use going to to make logical predictions about the future based on things you know or can see now.

1- We’re going to watch the match.

2- She’s pregnant. She’s going to have a baby.

• You can also ask questions with going to when you think that the person you’re talking to probably knows the answer.

What are you going to say to Sheila? (I expect you’ve thought about it.)

•  You use will to make a decision at the moment you speak. Often you’re offering to do something for someone.

1- I’ll come with you.

2- I’ll get you a cup of coffee. Pete will help you.

•  You use will and won’t, to say what you think or to make a guess about the future. You can also use will and won’t to talk about future facts.

1- You won’t be at school next week. You’ll be on holiday.

2- I’ll be there soon.

3- Baker will score the first goal (That’s what I think.)

4- Your dog will eat the biscuits. (That’s what I guess. My dog has done it before.)

•  You can also use will to ask questions about the future when you aren’t sure whether the person you’re talking to knows the answer.

Do you think Ben will marry Ann? (what’s your opinion)

3. Remember and note

•  Sometimes it doesn’t matter whether you use the present continuous or going to. The meaning is the same. If you’re in doubt, use going to.

1- I’m going to travel by coach to London.

2- I’m travelling by coach to London.

•  Sometimes it’s possible to use either going to or will with only a very small difference in meaning. If you’re in doubt, follow the rules above.

4. Quiz and exercises

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You can work on other exercises in your spare time to consolidate your knowledge about the topic.