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Grammar

Future forms (1): ways to talk about the future

We can use different forms to talk about the future in English.
Here are the main future forms and their uses:

Form: Future simple: will+ infinitive
Meaning/ use: decisions made at the moment of speaking
Example: Ok, I’Il stay with you, then. (Sì)
Ok, I’m going to stay with you, then. (No)
Meaning/ use: predictions, often with I think / believe / expect / hope / etc.
Example: I think it will be a difficult game.
Meaning/ use: offers
Example: I’Il give you a lift if you like.
Meaning/ use: requests
Example: Will you do me a favour?
Meaning/ use: promises
Example: I’Il love you forever.
Meaning/ use: threats
Example: Leave now or I’Il call the police.
Meaning/ use: facts about the future
Example: Christmas Day will fall on Tuesday this year.

Form: be going to + infinitive

Meaning/ use: intentions
Example: I’m going to phone him tomorrow
Meaning/ use: predictions based on present evidence
Example: Look! It’s going to rain. (Sì)
Look! It will rain. (No)

Form: shall + infinitive ( usually with I or we)
Meaning/ use: offers
Example: Shall I help you with those bags?
Meaning/ use: suggestions
Example: Shall we go for a walk?
Meaning/ use: asking for advice
Example: What shall I say if he calls?

Form: Future continuous: will be + -ing
Meaning/ use: actions in progress at a particular time in the future
Example: I’Il be working at six.
Meaning/ use: events that are fixed or expected to happen
Example: We’Il be going by bus, as usual.
Meaning/ use: things that will happen in the normal course of events
Example: I’Il be staying in this evening

Form: Present continuous: be + -ing
Meaning/ use: arrangements, often with a time expression
Example: I’m having my hair cut today.

Form: be + to-infinitive
Meaning/ use: official arrangements, especially when announced
Example: The President is to visit Brussels next week

Form: Present simple
Meaning/ use: events that are part of a timetable or schedule
Example: The boat leaves the island on Friday.
Meaning/ use: in future time clauses, after when, as soon as, until, etc.
Example: I’Il phone you when I arrive.

PAG.34

Future forms (3): future continuous, future perfect, future in the past

Future continuous
The future continuous can refer to actions in progress at a particular time in the future:

• The future continuous often refers to events or actions that are part of a routine, or things that will happen in the normal course of events.

It emphasises that no new arrangements are necessary:
I can give you a lift to the station. I’ll be going that way anyway.
• We can also use the future continuous to ask about someone’s plans:
Will you be using the library this afternoon? When will the President be arriving?

Future continuous or future simple?
• We use the future simple for a decision made at the moment of speaking:
OK, I’ll see you this evening.
• With the future continuous, the activity has already been decided. Compare:
We’ll be staying here until next weekend.
(= We’ve already decided to stay.)
OK, we will stay here until next weekend.
(= We’ve just decided to stay.)

Future perfect
Form
Affirmative: They will have finished the
assignment by Saturday.
Question: Will they have finished the assignment by Saturday?
Negative: They won’t have finished the
assignment by Saturday.
Use
We use the future perfect to talk about something that will be completed before a particular time in the future:

Today is Tuesday. Rob says, 7 will have finished this assignment by Saturday. ’ (= He will finish at any time up to Saturday but not later.)
I will have found a better job by the time I’m forty. </ I will find a better job by the time Tm-for-ty? X

Future in the past
When we talk about the past, we often need to refer to things that were in the future at that time. To do this, we use the forms that we normally use to talk about the future but we make the verb forms past:
I thought it would be a difficult game.
I was meeting a friend later that afternoon.

We were going to stay a bit longer but my brother got sick.

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