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.

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

 

Overview of English Verb Tenses

Introduction

Learning verb tenses is always the tricky part of learning a language. Especially, when a language has 12 of them. It might sound scary at first but once you understand the logic behind why there are so many in the English language, you’ll be able to use them with confidence. In this post, I’ll give you a general overview on tenses that you can use as guidence before you dive into each tense one by one. Take a look at the following chart with all the tenses:

Verb Tenses Chart
12 English Verb Tenses

*S refers to subject as the performer of the action
E.g. If we examine the following sentence: ‘Mary makes a coffee.’ → Mary is the subject.
*O refers to the object on which the action is performed
E.g. In the above-mentioned sentence the coffee is the object.

Verb Tenses

In the English language, tenses are categorized according to two characteristics: tense and aspect as you can see it in the table above. Understanding tenses is more intuitive as there are past, present and future tenses, depending where the action takes place in time compared to our present.

Verb Aspect

The aspect is a bit more complicated. We differentiate three aspects: simple, progressive and perfect. Each tense has a simple, a progressive, a perfect progressive and a perfect version, adding up to 12 tenses. However, it is enough to understand the logic behind the aspects and you will know when to use them. Each aspect follows the same structure in all tenses, therefore, you will only need to learn the logic behind the structure of each aspect and you will be able to put it in past, present of future forms.

Don’t confuse tenses with clauses

In the table above, you can find all tenses in each aspect. Note that each of these tenses can be used in different clauses such as conditional and passive voice so do not confuse the two. I encourage you to check out the overview pages of each aspect before jumping into the tenses so that you will have a general understanding of the structure. Always use a verb tenses chart for guidance.

Useful abbreviations in verb structures

Most verb tenses in the English language consist of an auxuliary verb (helping verb) and a main verb, meaning that there are auxiliary verbs assisting the action verb to express the right time and aspect. At the beginning of each page, you will find a clear guideline how to form the structure in that specific tense. I will be using the following abbreviations for different verb forms:

  • Bare infinitive: Bare infinitive is the infinitive form of the  You form the first form of the verb by dropping the ‘to’ from the infinitive form.
    For example: to make → make
    to play → play
  • Simple Past: The second form of the verb is the past form or -ed form. Note that there are many irregular verbs in the English language. You can find an extensive list here.
  • Past Participle: The third form of the verb is the Past Participle. It is formed by adding -ed to the end of the verb. However, the irregular verbs have irregular Past Participle forms, as well, that you can learn along with the second forms. The third form usually follows the auxiliary verb ‘to have’ in Perfect Tenses.
  • Progressive Participle: The -ing form of the verb is created by adding -ing to the end of the verb. There are some irregularities in spelling that you can find here. The -ing form is generally used in Progressive Tenses and it is follows the auxiliary verb ‘to be’.

Always keep in mind

There are some general rules in English structures that can help you get the right form:

  • ‘Have’ as an auxiliary verb is always followed by the perfect participle of the verb.
    For example: I have been dreaming about a chocolate cake for so long.
  • ‘To be’ in progressive tenses is always followed by the progressive participe of the verb. If it is followed by the perfect participle, it refers to Passive Voice which is not a verb tense.
    For example: Bob was lying to me the whole time. → progressive
    I was being lied to the whole time. → Passive Voice
  • When you got the correct structure of the chosen aspect right, it is always the first auxiliary verb that needs to be put in the chosen tense.
    For example: ‘to be going to the movies’ →  She was going to the movies.
  • The first auxiliary verb of the tense must always agree with the subject. The form of all other auxiliary or action verbs will be determined by the auxiliary verb standing in front of them.
    For example: She has been knitting this sweater for months. → Here, the form of ‘to have’ must agree with she or third person singular.