Lesson 5.6 Future Simple and Future Continuous

Lesson 5.6 Future Simple and Future Continuous

See also: Lesson 4.6 Auxiliary Verbs and Lesson 5.4 Modal Verbs.

Future Simple:

5.6.1  Future simple is one of the five most important tenses in the English language. (See also Lesson 2.2 5 Tenses and 5 Forms of the Verb.)

We use future simple to talk about actions in the future. A positive sentence looks like this:

subject (I, you, he, she, it, we, they)  +  will  +  infinitive

            for example:      I will go to work tomorrow.

A negative sentence looks like this:

subject (I, you, he, she, it, we, they)  +  will  +  not  +  infinitive

            for example:      I will not go to work tomorrow.

The negative contraction for  will not  is  won’t. It rhymes with  don’t:

            for example:      I won’t go to work tomorrow.

We use  won’t  in everyday speech and informal writing.

A question looks like this:

will  +  subject (I, you, he, she, it, we, they)  +  infinitive

            for example:      Will you go to work tomorrow?

              answer:            Yes, I will.  or  No, I will not / won’t.

5.6.2  We often use the contraction  ’ll  in positive sentences when we are speaking and in informal writing. It sounds more natural than the full form  will:

            for example:      I’ll go to work tomorrow.

We do not use the contraction in negative sentences or questions:

I’ll not go to work tomorrow.     >     say instead     >     I won’t go to work tomorrow.

’ll you go to work tomorrow?     >     say instead     >     Will you go to work tomorrow?

Pronunciation of contractions and mega contractions (extreme contractions which are often used in connected speech):

For more details see: Talk a Lot Foundation Course (FREE download).

5.6.3  Future simple is the most common future form in English. Some students make the mistake of using future simple for most or all future sentences – perhaps because it is the first, and possibly the only future tense that they master. However, we only use it in certain situations, as stated below:

5.6.4  As we have said, many students learn will + infinitive – and possibly also be + going to + infinitive – and then try to use them exclusively for all future situations.

However, in English we use a whole range of tenses to talk about the future:

Errors of register can occur when students use the wrong form for the wrong kind of sentence. For example, if a student wants to talk about a future plan but uses will + infinitive instead of be + going to + infinitive, they may communicate their message, but it will not sound natural. For example:

natural:             I’m going to get Becky a birthday present tomorrow.

unnatural:         I will get Becky a birthday present tomorrow.

Similarly, if a student wants to talk about a future arrangement, but uses will + infinitive instead of present continuous, they will communicate but their English will sound stilted or overformal:

natural:             I’m having my hair cut this afternoon.

unnatural:         I will have my hair cut this afternoon.

We use each future form for particular purposes and it is advisable to learn which form matches which purpose.

5.6.5  Here are the contracted forms for going to + infinitive:

5.6.6  We use future simple in the main clause of first conditional to demonstrate the result of the if-clause in the real future:

If I miss the bus, I will be late.

(There is a real possibility that this can happen = real future.)

If Jeremy’s brother comes to the party, I will make him a nice omelette.

(We don’t know if he will come to the party, but the situation and plan exist in the real future, which we assume is near.)

5.6.7  Shall and its negative form shall not (contraction: shan’t) have the same meaning as will and will not (won’t), but they were more popular in the past than now. Shall was like will’s much posher older cousin. We can use shall in very formal speech or writing, but we do not use it very often in everyday speech, apart from to make suggestions:

‘Shall we go to the beach?’

‘Yes, good idea.’

We can’t say: ‘Will we go to the beach?’ as a suggestion. It sounds more like a question about a future event.

Positive and negative sentences with shall are quite rare:

‘I shall finish my homework later.’           becomes >        ‘I will finish my homework later.’

‘You shan’t borrow my hairdryer!’           becomes >        ‘You won’t borrow my hairdryer!’

The tone of the two sentences with shall, above, sounds like two very rich and spoilt children talking, or children from an old-fashioned novel, or in a film about aristocratic British life in the 1920s.

We can also use shall in formal instructions, for example: ‘Each member of the committee shall agree to submit the appropriate documents by the fourth of each month.’

In short, though, we avoid shall these days, apart from in the contexts mentioned above.

Future Continuous:

5.6.8  Future continuous (also known as future progressive) is the sister (or brother) tense to future simple. It is less common than future simple and not one of the most important tenses in English. However, it is a useful future tense that we can use in specific situations to talk about continuous actions in the future.

A positive sentence looks like this:

subject (I, you, he, she, it, we, they)  +  will  +  be  +  ing form

            for example:      They will be driving home from work at 8pm.

A negative sentence looks like this:

subject (I, you, he, she, it, we, they)  +  will  +  not  +  be  +  ing form

            for example:      They will not be driving home from work at 8pm.

The negative contraction for  will not  is  won’t:

            for example:      They won’t be driving home from work at 8pm.

A question looks like this:

will  +  subject (I, you, he, she, it, we, they)  be  +  ing form

            for example:      Will they be driving home from work at 8pm?

              answer:            Yes, they will.  or  No, they will not / won’t.

5.6.9  As in future simple, we use the contraction  ’ll  in positive sentences when the context is informal:

            for example:      They’ll be driving home from work at 8pm.

Again, we do not use the contraction in negative sentences or questions. The pronunciation of the contraction of will is discussed in 5.6.2, above.

5.6.10  As with all other continuous tenses in English, we cannot use state verbs as main verbs in future continuous.

For example:

5.6.11  Like future simple, we use future continuous in certain situations:

Note the use of conjunctions when, while, and then in some of the example sentences above.

5.6.12  A note about time. You can see that we use future continuous (and all future forms) to imagine the future. Why? Because the future is not real. It hasn’t happened yet and only exists in our – sometimes overactive – imaginations.

In fact, the only time that have is this moment. Now. All other time – both past and future – is imagined. The past is imagined with the aid of our memories and the future is too. We use what we remember from the past to build hypotheses about what may or may not happen. What can be and what can be ruled out as highly unlikely or impossible. Our brains pick over possibilities and try to predict the various likely outcomes in a given situation.

As we know, there are twelve tenses* in English along with various other forms, including conditionals, but some mischievous English teachers like to amaze their students by stating that in English there are only two tenses or times: past and present. Grammatically, they are right, because there are no dedicated future verbs in English. Take the verb ‘do’, for example:

past                  present             future

did                    do                    will do

Both ‘will’ and ‘do’ are present forms. ‘Will’ is the present form of ‘would’ and ‘do’ is the infinitive or base form, as used in present simple. So those playful teachers are technically correct. We use only present forms to make future forms:

*The twelve tenses of English:

present simple . . . . . present continuous / progressive
present perfect . . . . . present perfect continuous / progressive

past simple . . . . . past continuous / progressive
past perfect . . . . . past perfect continuous / progressive

future simple . . . . . future continuous / progressive
future perfect . . . . . future perfect continuous / progressive

Exercises:

Ex. 5.6.1 Grammar  Rearrange the words in each sentence to make a question in future simple tense. Don’t forget to put a capital letter at the start of each sentence and a question mark at the end:

1. bus here when get will the

2. football tomorrow play you will

3. baby you what your call will

4. sandwich you which have will

5. the first who be queue in will

6. will someone like how find you I else

7. theatre will tickets the any have

8. park we where will

9. dishwasher finish will soon the

10. work my why won’t phone

Ex. 5.6.2 Grammar  Rearrange the words in each sentence to make a question in future continuous tense. Don’t forget to put a capital letter at the start of each sentence and a question mark at the end:

1. taxi will this a you getting home evening be

2. afternoon the in at o’clock a reading will two library tomorrow be Sue book

3. fair helping you craft be next me the will at week

4. having me exam later will thinking I’m you while be my about

5. 6pm meeting tomorrow travelling at be to the Richard will

6. party your to Tuesday on friends be will bringing the you

7. few a landing we in be will minutes

8. dance the collecting group will does be their money Steven while

9. the spending to will listening be this year more government voters time

10. again be this opening all late shops will the Christmas

Ex. 5.6.3 Grammar  Complete the future simple sentence blocks:

Starting sentence A: I will send you a quick message when I get back from work.

wh- question: When _________________________________________________
short answer: _______________________________________________________
yes/no question: _______________________________________________________
short answer: _______________________________________________________
yes/no question to
get a negative answer: _______________________________________________________
short negative answer: _______________________________________________________
long negative answer: _______________________________________________________

Extension: make more sentence blocks using: what (x2), what kind, who

Starting sentence B: Geoff will meet you in Barcelona at 11 o’clock in the morning.

wh- question: What time ______________________________________________
short answer: _______________________________________________________
yes/no question: _______________________________________________________
short answer: _______________________________________________________
yes/no question to
get a negative answer: _______________________________________________________
short negative answer: _______________________________________________________
long negative answer: _______________________________________________________

Extension: make more sentence blocks using: what, when, who, where

Ex. 5.6.4 Grammar  Complete the future continuous sentence blocks:

Starting sentence A: Mum will be waiting for you in the corridor after school.

wh- question: When _________________________________________________
short answer: _______________________________________________________
yes/no question: _______________________________________________________
short answer: _______________________________________________________
yes/no question to
get a negative answer: _______________________________________________________
short negative answer: _______________________________________________________
long negative answer: _______________________________________________________

Extension: make more sentence blocks using: who (x2), where, what

Starting sentence B: During the meeting I’ll be presenting a series of challenging questions.

wh- question: What _________________________________________________
short answer: _______________________________________________________
yes/no question: _______________________________________________________
short answer: _______________________________________________________
yes/no question to
get a negative answer: _______________________________________________________
short negative answer: _______________________________________________________
long negative answer: _______________________________________________________

Extension: make more sentence blocks using: when, who, what (x2),
what kind

Ex. 5.6.5 Writing  Everyday Actions – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow:

A) Write about what you did yesterday using Past Simple tense:

1. I __________________________________________________________ yesterday.
2. I __________________________________________________________ yesterday.
3. I __________________________________________________________ yesterday.
4. I __________________________________________________________ yesterday.
5. I __________________________________________________________ yesterday.
6. I __________________________________________________________ yesterday.

B) Write about what you have done today so far using Present Perfect tense:

7. I have_________________________________________________________ today.
8. I have_________________________________________________________ today.
9. I have_________________________________________________________ today.
10. I have_________________________________________________________ today.
11. I have_________________________________________________________ today.
12. I have_________________________________________________________ today.

C) Write about what you will do tomorrow using Future Simple tense:

13. I will _______________________________________________________ tomorrow.
14. I will _______________________________________________________ tomorrow.
15. I will _______________________________________________________ tomorrow.
16. I will _______________________________________________________ tomorrow.
17. I will _______________________________________________________ tomorrow.
18. I will _______________________________________________________ tomorrow.


Further activities – worksheets (PDF) to download:

Using Past, Present, and Future Continuous 1

using-past-present-and-future-continuous-1

Using Past, Present, and Future Continuous 2

using-past-present-and-future-continuous-2

Tenses Revision Game – Future Simple

Follow the instructions on p.121 of the FREE Big Grammar Book Intermediate Book 1:

tenses-revision-game-future-simple

Past, Present, and Future Continuous Tenses with ‘While’ – At the Airport

practice-past-present-and-future-continuous-tenses-with-while-at-the-airport

Past, Present, and Future Continuous Tenses with ‘While’ – At the Park

practice-past-present-and-future-continuous-tenses-with-while-at-the-park

FREE Lesson Plan: Beginner Level Verb Forms Revision

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