Simple Future Tense

Simple Future or Going to

Future events can be expressed with either Simple Future Tense or the ‘going to’ expression. Both of them express future events and actions but there is a small difference in usage. The main difference lies in the probability of the event. For predictions, less probable events, we use Simple Future and for already planned future events, we use ‘going to’. ‘Going to’ is generally used to express future intentions or plans or it is often used if we can see the evidence of a future event. For example,

I don’t think it will rain. –> Look at those clouds! It’s going to rain very soon!
Maybe the test will be easy this time. –> The teacher says the test is going to be very difficult.

First, let’s look at Simple Future closely…

When to use Simple Future

  • For planned, arranged, regular events in the future
    The bus will come at 7 am.
    I’ll take the 4 o’clock train back to the city.
  • Making offers and promises spontaneously
    Moving is such a hassle. I’ll help you.
    I lost my pen. – I’ll lend you mine.
    Thank for paying for the bills. I’ll pay you back next week.
  • Expressing probability and predicted events
    I think I’ll be there soon.
    I’m not sure I’ll be there in time.
    I’ll probably be late.
    I wonder if she’ll be late.
    I expect she’ll be late.
    It will be sunny tomorrow.
  • Willingness / Unwillingness
    My granddaughter won’t eat anything I cook because she’s vegan.
    He’s so rude. I won’t answer him until he apologizes.
    I’ll help you with your homework.
  • Invitations
    Will you come to prom with me?
    Will you marry me?

Structure of Simple Future Tense

Subject + will + bare infinitive of the main verb + Object
Daisy         will                           dance                                 tango.

The Future Simple Tense is the simplest ways to express a planned action in the future in the English Language. The future tense is expressed by using the auxiliary verb ‘will’ which is followed by the first form of the verb. The auxiliary verb implies that the action will take place in the future. Note that there is no need to conjugate ‘will’ or the main verb following it

I will dance
You will dance
He / She / It will dance
We will dance
You will dance
They will dance

Take a look at where Simple Future is in the Verb Tenses Table:

simple future

 Simple Future Negative

As in case of any other tenses, you need to combine the auxiliary verb and ‘not’ to create the negative form. The short version of ‘will not’ is ‘won’t’. Remember to use the short version in an informal and the long version in formal context. The negative of the Simple Future is formed as follows:

Subject + won’t / will not + bare infinitive

Examples:
I won’t study for my exam.
She won’t come to the cinema with us.
We won’t go to the beach today because it’s very cloudy.

Yes/No questions in Simple Future

In the English language, questions are usually formed by switching the (first) auxiliary verb and the subject. For example:

She can speak English. → Can she speak English?

The same logic applies in Simple Future, as ‘will’ is also a modal verb like ‘can’ in the above-mentioned example. Just switch ‘will’ and the subject.

I will come to your wedding. → Will you come to my wedding?

They won’t have time for breakfast. → Will they have time for breakfast?

My cousin will travel around Asia for 6 months. → Will your cousin travel around Asia?

Open-ended questions in Simple Future

To form open-ended questions, simply put the question word to the beginning of the sentence. The word order folowing the question word remains tha same as in case of yes/no questions. For example:

Who will you come to my wedding with?

What time will they have breakfast?

Where will your cousin travel around?

Typical adverbs of Simple Future Tense

Tomorrow / tonight etc, at (6) pm/am/o’clock, in (2) hours/days/weeks, ever, never,

Note that in time clauses beginning with while, when, before, after, by the time, as soon as, if and unless, the correct form of the verb is in present tense.

Some examples:
I’ll join you for dinner if you’re not late.
We will go out for dinner when you arrive.
After you arrive, we will go out for dinner.
The plane will land tomorrow at 7 pm.
Maybe we should get take-out. Jane will make dinner tonight.

Expressing planned actions with ‘going to’

Planned actions in the future can be expressed by using the expression ‘going to’, as well. However, ‘going to’ is not a tense. The full form of the expression is ‘to be going to’ where ‘to be’ needs to be conjugated according to the subject of the sentence. The actual action verb stays in first form, following ‘going to’.

Affirmative:    Subject + conjugated form of to be + going to + bare infinitive + Object

Negative: S + I’m not / isn’t / aren’t + going to + bare infinitive

Question: Am / is / are + S + going to + bare infinitive

‘Going to’ is generally used to express a planned action in the future. If you want to say that you have already decided on doing something, use ‘going to’. For example,

I’m going to the movies later today.
He is going to run the Boston Marathon this year, so he needs to train so much.
Are you going to invite your mother-in-law for the baby shower?

‘Going to’ can refer to predictions about events that are just about to happen. In these situations, often there is a concrete evidence suggesting the event about to happen. For example,

That branch is about to break. He’s going to fall off the tree!
The company earnings dropped by 30% in the last quarter. Share prices are going to decrease dramatically.
He isn’t going to pass the final exam. It’s so hard!

Expressing future with shall

You might have seen the auxiliary verb ‘shall’ before. It can also be used to express future instead of ‘will’. But be careful because ‘shall’ can only be used with ‘we’ and ‘I’. It is frequently used in formal, contexts such as legal documents and contract. For example,

The tenant shall be responsible for the cleaning of the whole property.

However, there is another meaning of ‘shall’. It is commonly used in polite questions with a similar meaning as ‘may’. For example,

May I help you? / Shall I help you? = polite way of asking ‘Can I help you?’

Note that ‘shall’ here refers to the politeness, not the future.

Simple Past Tense

When to use Simple Past

Simple Past is used for finished actions in the past. The focus is on the action itself, not on its present consequences. Simple Past is often used to describe a series of events or to tell stories. For example, when describing what you did during a day in the past.

  • For habits or repeated, regular events
    The bus came at 7 am every morning.
    Sometimes I went to the park during lunch break.
    They often trained together before races.
  • Past event that happened at a given point in time
    I went to bed at 12 pm last night.
    She was born in 2000.
    What time did your flight leave on Wednesday?
  • Past event with an indefinite point in time
    She was my best friend.
    I bought this watch a long time ago.
    I bumped into my high school sweetheart the other day.

Structure of Simple Past Tense

Subject + Simple Past form of the verb + Object
She                          studied                  medicine.

The Simple Past Tense has the simplest past structures. In an affirmative sentence, there is no auxiliary verb. The action verb needs to be used in past participle. The past participle of the verb is created the following way:

Regular verbs

To create the past tense form of regular verbs, simply add -ed to the end of the verb.
want → wanted → I wanted to help you.
shift → shifted → The real power shifted to the advisor.
cook → cooked → Mom cooked a delicious meal.
wait → waited → Cinderella waited for a long time for his prince.
play → played → My best friend played tennis in high school.
bake → baked → I baked a chocolate cake last weekend.
add → added → The teacher added some extra slides to the presentation.
stay → stayed → My roommate stayed up late last night.
jump → jumped → The nighbour’s goats jumped over the fence.
look → looked → You looked wonderful in that dress.
enjoy → enjoyed → They enjoyed a night out together.
push → pushed → Tom pushed the wrong button.
walk → walked → Grandpa always walked around in the garden.

Spelling changes

However, there are some exceptions in spelling regular verbs ending in -ed. The spelling rules follow the same logic as the spelling of the progressive participle.

  1. Verbs ending in -e only get a -d.
    live → lived
    vote → voted
    love → loved
    create → created
  2. Double the final letter if the verb ends in consonant + vowel + consonant.
    stop → stopped
    plan → planned
    drop → dropped
    fit → fitted
  3. Don’t double the last consonant if the stress is on the first syllable even though the verb ends in consonant + vowel + consonant.
    happen → happened
    offer → offered
    enter → entered
  4. Don’t double the last consonant if the verb ends in -w, -x, -y or when the last syllable is not stressed.
    follow → followed
    enjoy → enjoyed
    fix → fixed

Some examples:
We happened to be there at the same time.
My dad fixed my bike yesterday.
Liam dropped out of school a long time ago.
I never finished high school.

Irregular verbs

There are many common words that have irregular second and third forms that don’t end in -ed. For example,

go → went → gone
do → did → done
make → made → made
get → got → got

You can find an extensive list of the most frequently used irregular verbs here. The sooner you start learning them, the sooner you’ll finish!

Note that there is no conjugation in 3rd person singular in past tense except for the verb ‘to be’:
I was                                                                                                                                                           You were
He / she / it was
We were
You were
They were

Take a look at where Simple Past is in the Verb Tenses Table:

simple past

Simple Past Negative

In the English language, negative forms of verbs are usually formed by an auxiliary verb and ‘not’. For example: She may not go out tonight. In the Simple Past Tense, the verb ‘do’ serves as an auxiliary verb to help the formation of negative and questions. The auxiliary verb, however, needs to be in second form, so the correct forms will be ‘did’ and ‘didn’t’. ‘Did’ here has no special meaning, it serves only grammatical purposes. The action verb follows the auxiliary verb which can stay in first form because the auxiliary verb already expresses the past tense. The negative of Simple Past is formed as follows:

S + did + not + bare infinitive + O

Remember to use the short version in everyday language by combing ‘did’ and ‘not’ to ‘didn’t’ and the long version ‘did not’ in a formal written context.

Examples:

I didn’t want to hang out with them last night.
She didn’t finish her paper until the deadline.
We didn’t go to the beach yesterday.

Yes/No questions in Simple Past

In the English language, questions are usually formed by switching the (first) auxiliary verb and the subject. To form questions the auxiliary verb ‘to do’ in past tense ‘did’ is used. Similarly to Simple Past Negative, the action verb stays in first form. For example:

I really liked the supper last night. → Did you like the supper last night?

They went to the nearest coffee shop. → Did they go to the nearest coffee shop?

My friend didn’t come with me to the handball game. → Did your friend come with you to the handball game?

Open-ended questions in Simple Past

To form open-ended questions, simply put the question word to the beginning of the sentence. The word order folowing the question word remains tha same as in case of yes/no questions. For example:

What did you have for supper last night?

Where did they go?

Why didn’t you friend come with you?

Typical adverbs of Simple Past

Yesterday, last night / week / year, at (2) o’clock, at (5) pm, once / twice…, … days / hours / weeks / years ago, for … hours, for a long time, a long time ago, ages ago

For example:
Yesterday I woke up at 7 am. I got out of bed and made myself a cup of coffee. I took a shower before starting to work. I worked for 3 hours and then met my friend for coffee at 11 o’clock. I invited her to come to my dinner party when she told me she didn’t have any plans for the evening. We had a great time last night.

Expressing habits in the past with ‘used to’ and ‘would’

There are two expressions used for expressing repeated actions in the past that are not tenses. In some special cases, these expressions describe the intention of the speaker more clearly than any of the past tenses. These expressions are ‘used to’ and ‘would’.

Let’s take a look at ‘used to’ first:

‘Used to’ expressed a repeated event, a habit or a state of something in the past. It describes an event or state that happened in the past but have already finished. It is frequently used for describing general past states, not specific events. Whereas Past Simple refers to a specific event with a given point in time, ‘used to’ refers to actions that regularly happened in the past.

The structure of the expression follows the same logic as the structure of Simple Past. In an affirmative sentence, ‘used to’ is followed by the bare infinitive of the action verb. In negative sentences and questions, the auxiliary verb ‘did’ helps to form the structure. As ‘did’ already expresses past tense, the -d at the end of ‘used to’ must be dropped.

Affirmative structure of ‘used to’: S + ‘used to’ + bare infinitive

Negative structure of ‘used to’: S + ‘didn’t use to’ + bare infinitive

Making questions with ‘used to’: Did + S + ‘use to’ + bare infinitive ?

For example:

I used to smoke, but I quit last week.
She used to be my best friend, but she got mad at me when I forgot about her birthday.
There used to be a lot more parks in this city.
Did you use to listen to this band in your teens?
I didn’t use to go on field trips with the class.

Expressing regular event and action in the past using ‘would’

‘Would’ is used for expressing regular actions in the past or typical event for a time period in the past. The main difference between ‘would’ and ‘used to’ is that you cannot use ‘would’ for describing states. Use ‘would’ for talking about actions and things that people can do.  For example,

My grandma would be a teacher when he was younger.
My grandma used to be a teacher when he was younger.

She would complain about the kids all the time.
She used to complain about the kids all the time.

The structure of expressing regular past events with ‘would’ is the same as if you were using ‘would’ as a modal verb:

Affirmative: S + ‘would’ + bare infinitive

Negative: S + ‘wouldn’t / would not’ + bare infinitive

Questions: Would + S + bare infinitive ?

Simple Present Tense

What is the Simple Present Tense?

The simple present tense is the most common verb tense in English. It is used to talk about facts, habits, routines, emotions, thoughts, and things that are generally true.

Examples of When to use Simple Present

For habits or repeated, regular events

The bus comes at 7 am every morning.
I go to the gym every day after work.
Usually I eat pizza for dinner.

For general facts

She is from Hungary.
My watch is very expensive.
I speak 5 languages.

For generally accepted truths

It is very hot in the summer.
Iceland is a very beautiful country.

Future uses for fixed plans

Classes begin at 9 am tomorrow.
My friends arrive on Wednesday next week.
The movie starts in an hour.

Structure of Simple Present Tense

The Simple Present Tense has the simplest structures of all tenses. Take a look at where Simple Present is in the Verb Tenses Table:simple present

The subject is followed by the main verb directly:

subject

+

main verb

infinitive

+

object

I

study

business.

For example:

I live with my parents.
We have a cat called Sally.
My grandparents live on the country side.

However, the verb needs to be conjugated. In the English language, verbs only change in present tense 3rd person singular the following way:

  • Just add -s to the bare form of the verb in most cases.

see → sees | like → likes | get → gets

  • Add -es to verbs ending with a vowel other than e.

go → goes | do → does

  • Add -es to verbs ending with -s, -z, -ch, and x.

match → matches | miss → misses

Important Note: Verbs ending in -y and a consonant change to -ies.

cry → cries | fry → fries | spy → spies

However, verbs ending with a vowel and -y, keep their original form.

pray → prays

Making the Simple Present Tense negative

In the English language, negative forms of verbs are usually formed by an auxiliary verb and ‘not’. For example: She may not go out tonight. In the Simple Present Tense, the verb ‘do’ serves as an auxiliary verb to help the formation of negative and questions. ‘Do’ here has no special meaning, it serves grammatical purposes. The negative of Simple Present is formed as follows:

Subject + do + not + main verb
My sister    does   not    live     here.

Generally, a short version of negative is used in everyday language by combing ‘do’ and ‘not’ to ‘don’t’ and ‘doesn’t. Notice that the above-mentioned conjugation in 3rd person affects the auxiliary verb ‘do’ and the -s endling disappeared from the end of the verb.

Examples:

I don’t like to study for exams.
She doesn’t work here anymore.
We don’t want to go to the beach today.

Yes/No questions in Present Simple

In the English language, questions are usually formed by switching the (first) auxiliary verb and the subject. For example:

She can speak English. → Can she speak English?

However, there is no auxiliary verb in Simple Present Tense, therefore, the verb ‘do’ is used as an auxiliary verb when questions are formed. ‘Do’ is conjugated according to the above discussed way in 3rd person singular, as well, when it is used as an auxiliary verb. For example:

I like fast cars. → Do you like fast cars?

They usually have coffee and toast. → Do they usually have coffee for breakfast?

My friend doesn’t like meat. → Does he like meat?

Open-ended questions in Presen Simple

In case you want to use a question word, simply start your sentence with it followed by the correct form of ‘do’, the subject, main verb and the object. Basically, you don’t need to change the word order when you use a question word.
For example:

What kind of cars do you like?

When do they usually have breakfast?

Why don’t you like meat?

Typical adverbs of Simple Present Tense

Always, regularly, usually, rarely, sometimes, seldom, often, frequently, generally, habitually, never

Some examples:

I always lose my keys.
I regularly leave my keys in my car.
Usually my keys are in my pocket.
I rarely take my keys out of my pocket during the day.
Sometimes I leave my keys in my car.
I seldom lose anything.
How often do you lose your keys?
I frequently leave my keys at the office.
Generally, I am very organized.
I never lose anything.

Overview of Simple Tenses

What is the simple aspect

Simple tenses are used to express action that are factual or normal. In present tense, it often refers to a habitual, regular action or anything that is in occurrence but is not necessarily happening right now. These are usually timeless statements. It is used to express facts. The focus is on the occurrence, not the process or if the action is complete. For example,

Starbucks serves the best coffee in town.

This sentence clearly indicates that you can find the best coffee at Starbucks, but they might not be serving it right now. (They may be closed.)

Other examples:

She teaches English to elementary school kids.
The paper arrives at 7 am every day.
You need two tablespoon of sugar for this recipe.

Take a look at where the Simple Tenses are in the Verb Tenses Chart:

simple tenses
12 English Verb Tenses

Verbs that are usually used in Simple Tenses (Non-continuous Verbs)

Some verbs that express states and not actions or processes are generally used in Simple Tenses. The easiest way to identify such verbs is to examine if you can see someone performing the action. If you cannot see someone doing it, always use Simple Tenses. The verbs usually express something abstract such as emotions, opinion or possession.

  • Senses / Perception: to feel, to hear, to see, to smell, to taste
  • Opinions / beliefs: to assume, to believe, to consider, to doubt, to feel (=to think), to find (=to consider), to suppose, to think*
    * ‘To think’ cannot be used in a progressive tense if it expresses opinion. However, if it expresses the action of someone thinking about something without any result, it can be used in Progressive Tenses.
  • Mental states: to forget, to imagine, to know, to mean, to notice, to recognize, to remember, to understand
  • Emotions: to envy, to fear, to dislike, to hate, to hope, to like, to love, to mind, to prefer, to regret, to want, to wish
  • Measurement: to contain, to cost, to hold, to measure, to weigh
  • Others: to look (=to resemble), to seem, to be (in most cases), to have (=to own)

Exceptions

Some verbs have a different meaning in Progressive and Simple Tenses. Make sure to note these when forming sentences or translating them.

  • This massage feels nice. → perception of the massage’s quality
  • Franz is feeling sick from the salad. → his health is currently affected by the salad
  • My neighbor has 20 cats. → expressing ownership
  • I’m having a great time with you. → being entertained, feeling good
  • You can’t see the London Eye from here. → perception
  • I’m seeing my mom later during the week. → planning on meeting

How to use the simple aspect

Once you have decided to use the simple aspect, verb formation is very easy. The simple aspect can be used in all three tenses: Simple Present, Simple Past and Simple Future. As there is no specific auxiliary verb for simple tenses, we simply use the first form of the verb in the correct tense.

General structure of Simple Tenses

subject

+

main verb

in correct tense

+

object / adverbs

I

live

in Bali.

Questions in Simpe Tenses

To form questions or negative phrases, the auxiliary verb ‘to do’ is used in the correct form in present and past tenses. For example,

Do you know where my keys are? / Did you know where my keys are?
I don’t know. / I didn’t know.

For a detailed explanation and usage, check out the individual page of each Simple Tense here:
Simple Present Tense
Simple Past Tense
Simple Future Tense