Future Tenses

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Future Tenses

Future Tenses

The future tenses are used to describe most situations and events taking place in the future. They express both planned and unplanned events, predictions, spontaneous decisions or other events in the future and are generally divided into four basic tenses:

  1. Future simple
  2. Future continuous
  3. Future perfect
  4. Future perfect continuous

Each tense uses different grammatical phenomena and timing. While the future simple tense works only with verbs in their base form, the future perfect continuous tense is a bit more complex. It is therefore necessary to know and be able to use all the future tenses at least partially, even though some are hardly ever encountered in spoken English. There are also special irregular forms of verbs.

Fortunately, the most commonly used future tense is the simple future tense, which is also the easiest to learn and understand. It is therefore necessary to be completely proficient in it.

Comparison of all future tenses

The future tense consists of two forms, one with the verb WILL and the other with the verb GOING TO. In the below examples of tense comparisons, we will use only the verb WILL:

– Future simple: I will play football.

– Future continuous: I will be playing football.

– Future perfect: I will have played football.

– Future perfect continuous: I will have been playing football.

The future simple tense

The future simple tense

The future simple tense expresses most future situations and events that may occur. It has two basic uses:

  1. With the verb WILL.
  2. With the verb GOING TO.

We need to learn both verbs and use them properly because each verb describes different situations in the future. We then form all the other tenses with this basic knowledge in mind.

As such, we must always know when to use the correct verb in all circumstances to ensure we can form sentences in even the most complex future tenses.

Using WILL and GOING TO

We use the verb WILL when we talk about spontaneous decisions, unplanned actions, offers or intentions. We translate it into “I will”.

On the other hand, the future tense GOING TO is used to express planned and predetermined situations in the future that are unlikely to change in any way. This verb is translated in English as “to prepare/plan”.

Affirmative sentences

Affirmative future simple sentences are really easy to form. All that is needed is the verb WILL in combination with the verb in its base form.

Subject + will + verb + object.

Forming affirmative sentences with the verb GOING TO is a little more complicated.

The auxiliary verb GOING TO consists of two parts (to be + going to). To form a grammatically correct sentence, it is necessary to use the correct form of the verb “to be” (am, is, are), which depends on the person in the subject.

Subject + am/is/are + going to + verb + object.

Example:
  • I will do my homework.
  • I am going to do my homework.

Negative sentences

Negative sentences use the negative “not” in all tenses. Using the verb WILL, we start with the subject, followed by “will not” then the verb in its base form. When we use the verb GOING TO, we put the “not” right after the “to be”. We can also use the abbreviation of the verb WILL NOT instead, which is “won’t”.

Subject + will + not + verb + object.

A sentence in the future tense with the verb GOING TO looks like:

Subject + am/is/are + not + going to + verb + object.

Example:
  • I will not/won’t do my homework.
  • I am not going to do my homework.

Questions

Questions are formed by simply swapping the word order and putting the subject before the verb, followed by the object. With the verb WILL, a question looks like this:

Will + subject + verb + object?

With the verb GOING TO, the structure of a question looks like this:

Am/Is/Are + subject + going to + verb + object?

Example:
  • Will you do your homework?
  • Are you going to do your homework?

The future continuos tense

The future continuous tense

The future continuous tense is used to express events that will take place at a precise moment in the future.

It is also used to express future planned events that are likely to have some duration. Thus, we often talk about planning a vacation, a trip, or a visit to family members.

This tense is often used in combination with adverbs such as “tomorrow”, “next week”, “next month”, “next Tuesday”, etc.

Affirmative sentences

To form affirmative sentences, we need to add the suffix -ing to the verb. This suffix shows the progressive aspect. In addition to adding the suffix, we need to add the verb “be” in its base form in combination with the auxiliary verbs WILL/GOING TO.

The whole sentence looks like this:

Subject + will + be + verb (-ing) + object.

With the verb GOING TO the sentence structure looks like this:

Subject + am/is/are + going to + be + verb (-ing) + object.

Example:
  • I will be doing my homework.
  • I am going to be doing my homework.

Negative sentences

Negative sentences are formed by adding the negative “not” immediately after the auxiliary verb WILL, or, in the case of GOING TO, immediately after the verb “am/is/are”.

Sentence structure with the verb WILL:

Subject + will + not + be + verb (-ing) + object.

Sentence structure with the verb GOING TO:

Subject + am/is/are + not + going to + be + verb (-ing) + object.

Example:
  • She will not/won’t be doing her homework.
  • She is not/isn’t going to be doing her homework.

Questions

To construct a question, insert the auxiliary verb at the very beginning of the sentence, immediately followed by the subject.

Sentence structure with the verb WILL:

Will + subject + be + verb (-ing) + object?

Sentence structure with the verb GOING TO:

Am/Is/Are + subject + going to + be + verb (-ing) + object?

Example:
  • Will you be doing your homework?
  • Are you going to be doing your homework?

Future Perfect Tense

The future perfect tense

The future perfect tense is used to express an event that will be completed before some other point in the future. You don’t come across this tense very often, but it is useful to know.

It is usually used in conjunction with the preposition “by” or “in”. For example, “by Monday” or “in a week”.

Affirmative sentences

Affirmative sentences are formed by using the auxiliary verb WILL/GOING TO, the irregular verb HAVE and the main verb in its past participle form. If the verb is regular, we use its base form in combination with the suffix -ed.

The full sentence with the verb WILL looks like this:

Subject + will + have + past participle + object.

With the verb GOING TO, the sentence looks like this:

Subject + am/is/are + going to + have + past participle + object.

Example:
  • I will have done my homework.
  • I am going to have done my homework.

Negative sentences

To create a negative sentence, we only need to add the negative “not” after the auxiliary verb.

Sentence structure with the verb WILL:

Subject + will + not + have + past participle + object.

Sentence structure with the verb GOING TO:

Subject + am/is/are + not + going to + have + past participle + object.

Example:
  • We will not/won’t have done our homework.
  • We are not/aren’t going to have done our homework.

Questions

As with all other tenses, we put the auxiliary verb at the beginning of the sentence. The first verb will be the verb WILL while in the case of GOING TO, it will be the verb “to be”.

Sentence structure with the verb WILL:

Will + subject + have + past participle + object?

Sentence structure with the verb GOING TO:

Am/Is/Are + subject + going to + have + past participle + object?

 Example:
  • Will they have done their homework?
  • Are they going to have done their homework?

Future Perfect Continuous Tense

The future perfect continuous tense

This tense is hardly used at all in practice. It is a tense in which we do not differentiate between the use of GOING TO or WILL depending on the timeline of the sentence. It is therefore possible to choose either form at any time, depending on which you prefer.

This tense is only used to express an unfinished action that will continue until a certain point in the future. It usually takes place continuously and is always indicated by an interval or period of time.

It is usually associated with words such as “when”, “by”, “for”, “all day long”, and so on.

Affirmative sentences

The construction of affirmative sentences in the future perfect continuous is probably the most difficult of all the future tenses. It is, however, very similar to the present perfect continuous or past perfect continuous tense. Here we use the auxiliary verb WILL/GOING TO, the verb HAVE, the verb BEEN, and the main verb in its continuous form, with the suffix -ing.

The complete sentence form with the verb WILL looks like this:

Subject + will + have + been + verb (-ing) + object.

The sentence structure with the verb GOING TO looks like this:

Subject + am/is/are + going to + have + been + verb (-ing) + object.

Example:
  • He will have been doing his homework.
  • He is going to have been doing his homework.

Negative sentences

To construct a negative sentence, we use the negative “not” immediately after the auxiliary verb. We can also use the abbreviation “won’t” or “aren’t/isn’t” instead. This gives us the following sentence structure when using the verb WILL:

Subject + will + not + have + been + verb (-ing) + object.

Sentence structure with the verb GOING TO:

Subject + am/is/are + not + going to + have + been + verb (-ing) + object.

Example:
  • I will not/won’t have been doing my homework.
  • I am not going to have been doing my homework.

Questions

To construct a question, we simply change the verb form and put the verb WILL/”to be” at the beginning of the sentence.

Sentence structure with the verb WILL:

Will + subject + have + been + verb (-ing) + object?

Sentence structure with the verb GOING TO:

Am/Are/Is + subject + have + been + verb (-ing) + object?

Example:
  • Will you have been doing your homework?
  • Are you going to have been doing your homework?
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