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How to talk about future in English?

Forms:
I. Shall/will + V0
II. Going to + V0
III. Present Continuous

IV. Present Simple


V. Future Continuous (will be + Ving)
VI. Future Perfect (will have + V3)

Match the examples with the functions and their verb forms.
a) To predict something based on our belief or our knowledge of characteristic
behaviour.
b) Promises, threats, offers, and requests.
c) To talk about things that have already been decided.
d) To talk about things that are certain to happen because there is present evidence.
e) To talk about future actions decided at the time of speaking.
f) To say that an action will be in progress at a definite time in the future.
g) To describe something that will be completed before a definite time in the future.
h) To talk about timetables, routines, schedules.

1.I promise Ill pay the money back.


2.I think Ill give up smoking.
3.Ill meet you at the station if you want.
4.Ill wear my new suit for the opening ceremony.
5.Ive got a terrible sense of direction I know Im going to get lost.
6.If you tell anyone, Ill kill you.
7.Look out! Youre going to break the glass!
8.My wifes decided shes going to lose 10 kilos.
9.Shall I meet you at the station?
10. Ill have retired by the year 2020.
11. This medicine will make you feel sleepy.
12. Where are you going to have the wedding reception?
13. Will you do the washing-up for me?
14. By the end of this semester, Ill have completed my fourth year at this university.
15. Youll feel better when youve had a good nights sleep.
16. Interviewer: This afternoon you are judging the Face of the Year competition. What will you be
looking for?
Model: Well, youve got to be 5ft 8in.
17. I dont make predictions; I never have and I
never will. (Tony Blair)
18. This runner is 87 years old hell remember this
day for a long time. (Athletics commentator)
19. Hes not going to produce a victory, but if he
produces second thatll be the next best thing.
(Motor racing commentator)
20. Do you have any classes on 29 October?
21. Next term ends on 16 January.

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TEACHERS NOTES AND AN ANSWER KEY


We cannot say there is a future tense in English.* However, there are tenses and verb forms that
we can use to talk about and to refer to future. For the most grammars that describe the language
(i.e. English), there are two basic tenses: Present Simple (V1) and Past Simple(V2). Carter and
McCarthy clarify the point:
There is no future tense ending for English verbs as there is in other languages, but
English has several widely used ways of referring to future time. The most
common forms are:
Were going to buy a new camera.
(be going to + infinitive)
Shes coming next Thursday.
(the present progressive form)
Ill be home about eight.
(shall/will)
My flight leaves in two hours time.
(the present simple form)
The government is to introduce a new funding system for universities.
(be to + infinitive)
Were about to have dinner.
(be about to + infinitive)
References to the future can depend on how much evidence there is for future
statements. It is often not possible to refer to the future with complete certainty,
even though some future events and actions are inevitable. Sometimes, therefore,
choices of form depend on how definite or certain the speaker wants to sound. For
this reason, a number of the ways of referring to the future involve modal verbs.
The most common verb used is will.

Therefore, the task of the teacher here is to let students be aware of the fact that there is no such a
defined and single form of verb that refer to one kind of future which people could agree on if
they were to look at the isuue from the same standpoint.
Suggested answer key to the handout:
1. b (promise)
2. e (b may also be possible)
3. b (offer)
4. e
5. d
6. b (threat)
7. d

8. c
9. b (offer)
10. g
11. a
12. c
13. b (request)
14. g

15. a
16. f
17. b Threat? Promise? (Look who says that!)
18. a
19. d
20. h
21. h

See Cambridge Grammar of English: A Comprehensive Guide on CD-ROM Although English does not have a future tense, the
term future is often used to refer to modal and aspect combinations, such as future perfect (e.g. I will have studied for three hours
by the time I finish.) or future progressive (She will be arriving tomorrow.). [section 217] Ronald Carter & Michael McCarthy
(Cambridge: CUP, 2006)

See also The English Verb: An Exploration of Structure and Meaning Michael Lewis (London: LTP, 1986) and we can say the
whole book discusses this issue and problems that arise from false perceptions of the English verb.

The underlined is mine.

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