The Future

Many students learn in school that "will" must be used in English whenever talking about the future. In fact English speakers use many different future forms and the goal of this module is to teach you which ones to use and when.

It takes about 1.5 hours to complete.

Presentation of the Future

Mark all the sentences that are FUTURE (as opposed to PRESENT or PAST)

  • Have you seen the latest Captain America movie?
  • Have you been vaccinated against the flu?
  • We're spending 2 weeks in Ile de Re. And you?
  • I'm reading a great book at the moment. It's called How to Win Friends and Influence People.
  • My flight leaves at 9:45am from Orly.
  • If it rains, you'll be sorry you didn't take an umbrella.
  • When I retire, I will buy a vineyard and make wine.
  • If you reheat French fries in the microwave, they're not very good.

Mark all the sentences that are FUTURE (as opposed to PRESENT or PAST)

  • We've known each other since childhood.
  • Where are you going on vacation this summer?
  • I've been working here for a long time.
  • I can't tomorrow, I'm having lunch with Francois.
  • I saw it two weeks ago.
  • When you see him, can you ask him to call me?
  • The concert starts at 7.
  • How long have you had your computer?
  • I'm sitting in the RER right now, can I call you back?

Mark all the sentences that are FUTURE (as opposed to PRESENT or PAST)

  • OK, I'll call you back in 10 minutes.
  • I've been married for 3 years.
  • I love Japanese food.
  • This year I'm going to improve my English.
  • I ate too much at lunch.
  • I'm visiting my parents this weekend, what are you doing?
  • When did you start your job?
  • I'll probably be there at 6.
  • What time do you normally get to the office?

Future = functions

Unlike the PRESENT and PAST, we don't have a Bubble-type framework to explain the FUTURE. This is because future forms are not about time - they are about function. We use different future forms for different functions. And the future does not consist only of "will" and "will" is not always used for the future.

For example:

  • Will you pass me the bread basket?

Could you substitute another word in place of "will" in this sentence? Like "can" or "could"? In this context, "will" is used to make a request, not to describe the future. This is because unlike in French with Le Futur, "will" is a modal verb and sometimes it is used for the future but sometimes it has other functions.

And as you noticed in the previous exercise, we have many forms that we use for the future. Which ones do you remember?

Perhaps the present continuous?

  • I can't tomorrow, I'm having lunch with Francois.

We use the present continuous to describe future plans - tomorrow, this weekend, next week, next month, etc. In fact it's very similar what you say in French - "je ne peux pas demain, je déjeune avec François." You don't say "je ne peux pas demain, je déjeunerai avec François."

Perhaps you noticed the present simple?

  • My flight leaves at 9:45am from Orly.
  • What time do you finish work tomorrow?

We use the present simple for future plans that involve a timetable / schedule. Airplanes, trains, buses and sometimes workday start and end times operate according to a timetable and this gives them a certain regularity.

Perhaps you noticed that we also use the present simple with "when."

  • When I retire, I will buy a vineyard and make wine.

In English, the part of the sentence with "when" uses the present simple and the other part uses "will" whereas in French "will" is used in both parts - Quand je serai à la retraite, j'achèterai un vignoble et je fabriquerai du vin.

Perhaps you noticed "going to"?

  • This year I'm going to improve my English.

We use "going to" also for future plans to give a connotation of intention, that we have decided to do it but perhaps not organized the arrangements. This is just like in French - Cette année je vais améliorer mon niveau d'anglais.

To give you an example of the different between present continuous and "going to:"

  • I'm going to stay two days in Prague  → I have decided but not booked the hotel
  • I'm staying two days in Prague  → It's arranged, I have booked the hotel

Then let's not forget "will."

We use "will" for a variety of future functions:

  • As part of a conditional sentence - "If you help me now, I'll help you next time."
  • Offers to do something - "I'll do it!"
  • Promises to do something - "Don't worry, I won't forget."
  • Formal instructions - "You will find this feature in the main menu."
  • Predictions - "France will win the World Cup."
  • To indicate degrees of certainty with words like "probably," "maybe," "perhaps," "I think"
  • In the second part of the sentence with "when," "after," "before," and "until"
  • Quick / spontaneous decisions - "Julien? I don't know, I'll ask him."
  • Future plans only when the verb is "be" - "Next week I'll be Geneva."

Match the future form used in the sentence to its function

  • We are spending 2 weeks in Ile de Re. And you?
    future plans
  • The last train leaves at 12:30.
    future plans with a timetable
  • If it rains, you'll be sorry you didn't take an umbrella.
    conditional ("if")
  • I will get back to you when I finish what I'm doing.
    when + present
  • OK, I'll call you back in 10 minutes.
    quick / spontaneous decision
  • I'm visiting my parents this weekend, what are you doing?
    future plans
  • I'm going to be rich one day!
    intention / I've decided

Match the future form used in the sentence to its function

  • Where are you going on vacation this summer?
    future plans
  • I'm meeting a friend tomorrow so I can't come.
    future plans
  • When you see him, can you ask him to call me?
    when + present
  • The concert starts at 7.
    future plans with a timetable
  • Maybe I'll go to the movies this weekend.
    degrees of certainty (probably, maybe, perhaps)
  • Are you cold? I'll turn off the air conditioning
    quick / spontaneous decision
  • I'm going to do all my English homework this session.
    intention / I've decided

Practice - Talking about Future Plans

Outlook Future - it is open

So let's say you have a meeting with your boss at 9am next Monday. What future forms do you use to say that? There are many different possibilities and it is quite open. (Just don't use "will" unless the verb is "be")

TO HAVE (PR. SIMP) & SOMETHING

I have a meeting with my boss

Every Monday from 9-11am I have a…

TO BE (PR. SIMP) & PLACE / PERSON

I’m with my boss from 9-11am

I’m in a meeting with my boss

I’m in Velizy, with my boss / in a meeting with…

I WILL BE & PLACE / PERSON

I WON’T BE …

I’ll be in Velizy, in a meeting with my …

I’ll be with my boss…

I won’t be available as I’m…

WILL/ WON’T & VERB after specific expressions

I think …

I hope …                      I will be / have …

Perhaps…

Maybe…

GOING TO & VERB

I’m going to be in a meeting with...

I’m going to see my boss on Monday morning...

PRESENT CONTINUOUS (Actions / Plans / arrangements)

I’m seeing my boss at 9 on Monday.

I’m meeting my boss on Monday for…

MODAL VERBS (PR. SIMP): (no need to think about tense)

I have to see my boss on Monday morning…

I must be in Velizy at 9…

I might be free, but…

I should be with my boss…

PRESENT PERFECT expressions

My boss has asked me to …

I’ve planned to see…

I’ve been invited to…

PRESENT SIMPLE for important dates / itineraries / timetables

The meeting starts at 9.

My plane leaves at 3.

 

Put the verb into the present continuous (future form)

A friend of yours is planning to go on vacation soon. You ask her about her plans.

  1. (go) "Where you ?" "Scotland."
  2. (go) "How long you for?" "Ten days."
  3. (go) "you alone?" "No, with a friend."
  4. (travel) "you by car?" "No, by train."
  5. (stay) Where you ?" "In an AirBnB."

Put the verb into the more suitable form: present simple or present continuous (future forms)

  1. I to the movie theater this evening.
  2. at 3:30 or 4:30pm?
  3. We a party next Saturday. Would you like to come?
  4. The art exhibition on May 3.
  5. I this evening, I home.

Put the verb into the more suitable form: present simple or present continuous (future forms)

  1. "anything tomorrow evening?" "No, I'm free, why?"
  2. We to a concert tonight. It at 7:30.
  3. I now. I've come to say goodbye.
  4. Isabelle to see us tomorrow. She by train and her train at 10:15.

1 - Finish the email by providing a reason why you cannot meet Terry at the time he has suggested. Try to vary the future forms that you use.

Hi,

Can I see you on Monday at 10am?

Terry

Hi Terry,

I’m sorry but I can’t see you on Monday at 10am because...

2 - Finish the email by providing a reason why you cannot meet David at the time he has suggested. Try to vary the future forms that you use.

Hello,

Can I come to talk to you on Monday at 3 pm?

David

Hello David,

I’m sorry but I’m not actually available on Monday at 3pm because...

3 - Finish the email by providing a reason why you cannot meet Erin at the time she has suggested. Try to vary the future forms that you use.

Hi,

Can I pop by to see you on Tuesday at 10am?

Erin

Hi Erin,

I’m afraid I’m not free next Tuesday at 10am because...

4 - Finish the email by providing a reason why you cannot meet Lindsay at the time she has suggested. Try to vary the future forms that you use.

Hi all,

Can we do the 1-hour conf call on Tuesday at 2:30?

Lindsay

Dear Lindsay,

I’m sorry but I won’t be able to join on Tuesday at 2:30 because...

5 - Finish the email by providing a reason why you cannot meet Tim at the time he has suggested. Try to vary the future forms that you use.

Hello,

Can we meet next Wednesday at 4 to discuss the proposal?

Tim

Hello Tim,

No, I’m really sorry, I’m not free next Wednesday at 4 because...

6 - Finish the email by providing a reason why you cannot meet Terry at the time he has suggested. Try to vary the future forms that you use.

Hi,

Can we meet next Thursday at any time to discuss the latest issues?

Terry

Hi Terry,

No, I’m really sorry, I can't next Thursday because...

7 - Finish the email by providing a reason why you cannot meet David at the time he has suggested. Try to vary the future forms that you use.

Hello,

Are you free on Friday morning at 11 to go over the specs?

David

Hello David,

Sorry, but Friday at 11 doesn’t fit with my schedule because...

8 - Finish the email by providing a reason why you cannot meet Erin at the time she has suggested. Try to vary the future forms that you use.

Hi folks,

Would you like to go for a quick drink after work on Friday?

Erin

Hi Erin,

Friday isn’t good, I’m leaving the office at 5 because...

Practice - All the Future Functions

Complete the sentence with "when"

  1. I'm too busy to do it for you right now, but I will time (quand j'aurai du temps)
  2. "Can you give a message to Benoit?" "Sure, I'll tell him him (quand je le verrai)
  3. Mummy, I want to be a train driver older (quand je serai plus grand)
  4. You want to go to the Maldives for 3 weeks? We'll do that the lottery (quand on gagnera à la loterie)
  5. I'll get back to you what I'm doing (quand je termine/finis)

Complete the sentence with "when"

  1. I haven't heard anything but I'll call you (quand je saurai)
  2. She's on holiday but she said she'd phone (quand elle reviendra)
  3. Not yet? OK, tell me ready (quand tu seras prete)
  4. in love, it will be forever! (quand je tomberai amoureux)

Complete the sentence with "when"

  1. You'll appreciate your parents more children of your own (quand tu auras des enfants)
  2. It's raining too much. We'll go out (quand il arretera)
  3. I have to speak to Evelyne first. to her, then we can start the meeting (quand je parlerai avec elle)
  4. First I need to check something. that, then we can leave (quand je ferai)

Future WWYS - 1

A:            What’s that?

B:            Oh nothing, just an internal memo about the reorganisation.

A:            Can I have a look?

B:            I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I (send) it to you if you want.

A:            OK, thanks.

Future WWYS - 2

You’re talking with a friend about New Year’s resolutions.  Tell them what you’ve decided to do.

Future WWYS - 3

You want to go to the Bois de Vincennes on Sunday afternoon for a picnic, but don’t have anyone to go with.  Ask a colleague what their plans are for the weekend.

Future WWYS - 4

A:            Can I borrow your badge?

B:            What for?

A:            I need to go upstairs to speak to Florence.

B:            Ok, but don’t lose it!  I lent my last badge to someone and never got it back!

A:            Don’t worry, I (bring it back) in 5 minutes!

Future WWYS - 5

A:            Wow! Look at that man over there! 

B:            The one who’s not walking straight?

A:            Yeah, I think he’s drunk, and now he’s stopped and is leaning over a bin.

B:            He doesn’t look in good shape… I think he  (throw up) (vomir).

Future WWYS - 6

You’ve just arrived home after a long day and realize you’ve left your keys at the office. The superintendent (gardien) has a spare key (un double de vos clés) for these kinds of emergencies, but their office is closed.

What’s your spontaneous plan of action to calm your other half (ton partenaire / conjoint) and attempt to solve the problem?

Future WWYS - 7

A:            Can I borrow your badge?

B:            What for?

A:            I need to go upstairs to speak to Florence.

B:            OK, but be quick! I (go) for lunch with a student in 15 minutes.

A:            Don’t worry, I  (not / be) long!

Future WWYS - 8

What is your prediction for the economy next year?

Future WWYS - 9

A:            Oh no, I can’t find my passport!  Have you seen it?

B:            I thought I saw it in your bag…

A:            No, that was yours! You gave it to me, remember?

B:            OK, don’t panic… we still have an hour before checking in. I (call) my brother and ask him to bring it to us. Does he still have our spare key?

Future WWYS - 10

A:            Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?

B:            Yeah, I  (give up) smoking and start doing more sport. And you?

A:            No, I don’t do New Year’s resolutions!

Future WWYS - 11

You’re sitting at your desk and a colleague comes over to speak to you and notices a document on your screen which they would like to read. (You don’t particularly want them to read it)

They ask about the document.  They seem keen to read it. Say something to them to make them leave with the expectation of receiving a copy of the doc from you in the near future.

Future WWYS - 12

A:            Hey, what’s up?

B:            Not much.  You?

A:            Not much.

B:            What (you / do) this weekend?

A:            Not much, why?

B:            I (go) to Bercy to catch a film Sunday afternoon. Do you fancy coming?

A:            Thanks for the offer, but I (have lunch) with my brother on Sunday. Otherwise I don’t have any plans…

Future WWYS - 13

You ask to borrow a colleague’s badge.  They’re not very happy about lending it to you, but they reluctantly accept. Reassure them that they can expect to get their key back in 5 minutes.

Future WWYS - 14

Arnaud:                I’ve decided to learn another language.

Severine:             Oh yeah? Which language  (you / learn)?

Arnaud:               Portuguese.

Severine:            (you / take) a class?

Arnaud:               Yeah.  (it / start) next week.

Severine:            That’s great. I’m sure  (you / enjoy) it. Don’t forget to put some time aside for your English class!

Arnaud:                Yeah, I know, if I don’t,  (Erin / kill) me.