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5 more ways to talk about the future

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As you may already know, there are many ways to talk about the future in English. In today’s grammar workshop we will be looking at some more advanced ways of talking about the future.


Projection: The Future Continuous




We can use the future continuous to talk about ongoing actions taking place in the future. The future continuous is structured as follows:

(I) will be + present participle (VERB+ing)

Future continuous constructions are often preceded by phrases such as ‘this time next week’ or ‘this time next year’:

‘This time next week, I’ll be sunbathing on the beach.’
‘This time next year, I’ll be taking my final exams.’


Imminent Future: About to… 



When we want to talk about a future event that is imminent or immediate we can use the ‘about to future.’ For example, if your train leaves at 12:00 and it is now 11:59, instead of saying ‘the train will leave very soon’ or even ‘the train is leaving very soon’, a native English speaker is more likely to say ‘my train is about to leave.’

Other examples:

‘Hurry up and sit down! The concert is about to start!

‘I’m sorry I can’t talk about that right now, I’m about to have dinner with my family.’


Willingness: Another use for I’ll



You have probably already seen will or ‘ll used to make general predictions but another use is to describe the willingness of someone to do something in the future. It is often used to express a willingness to do something in the future that might otherwise considered to be undesirable, see the examples below.

‘Can you work on Saturday?’
‘Yes, I’ll do it.’

‘Ask James if he wants to come climbing.’
‘He won’t come, he is scared of heights.’

(At the end of a meal in a restaurant.)
‘Don’t worry, I’ll pay.’

Evidence based predictions: ‘be going to...’


You may have seen the ‘be going to’ future used to talk about intentions in the future but we also use this construction to make predictions based on present evidence:

‘Look at those dark clouds; it’s going to rain in a minute.’

‘The economy is bad so it’s going to be a difficult year for us financially.’

Remember: in spoken English we often contract ‘going to’ to ‘gonna’ as in ‘it’s gonna rain in a minute.


Formal obligations: ‘you are to...’



Finally let’s turn our attention to a more formal way of talking about the future. By taking the present simple of the verb ‘to be’ and adding an infinitive we can talk about future obligations:

You are to return books to the library on or before the date shown on your receipt.’

When returning to the UK, passengers are to show their passports on arrival.’

Notice the formal contexts of the two examples above, we rarely use this construction in spoken English.

We hope that you have found these tips useful and that from now on you will be talking about the future like an expert in English!