Future Tense! Learn the four future tenses in English with useful grammar rules, example sentences, and ESL printable worksheets. Several other articles on this site will help you, the reader, to become more eloquent in talking about the past or discussing the present. In the next few sections, on the other hand, you will learn how to talk or write about events that haven’t happened yet, that you anticipate in the future (such as your dreams or aspirations), and situations that may occur in the future (or may not as there’s usually a predictive probability involved).
The four verb tenses that you will read about below are:
The rest of the article consists of one section for each of those verb tenses to provide an idea for how it is formed and how it is used. The next section demonstrates sentences that use the future tense followed by a few final thoughts that you will summarize a few take-away points you may find useful afterwards. As always, continue practicing the future tense in your writing, reading, and speaking until you feel fluent.
There is another way to form the simple future tense that is a bit less obvious. In addition to the will’ construction above is the form to be’ + going to’ + infinitive’ (e.g. I am going to speak’)
Contrary to some of the other verb tenses, the simple future tense is really only used to write about actions, situations, or events that will happen at some time from now.
The future progressive, sometimes called the future continuous, verb tense describes a continuous action that is happening sometime in the future.
This form is created using helper verb will’ + to be’ + infinitive’ + -ing’. This looks confusing but it is pretty simple when there is an example, such as I will be going to the movies with my friends for my birthday next week’.
Feel free to sprinkle some time adverb modifiers here a well to indicate just how far into the future the action will take place (e.g. I will be speaking at the security conference next Tuesday).
Future perfect talks about an action that will have been completed at some point in the future (i.e. it is known when the action will be finished and there is no reason to think it is an ongoing activity).
This verb is formed with will’ + to have’ + infinitive’ + -ed’ such as He will have spent all his bonus money by Christmas’.
As shown in the example above, time adverbs are essential to really know when the action will have been finished up in the future time.
Future Perfect Progressive
And here’s where the verb tenses become confusing so let’s try to break this down a bit. The future perfect tense, shown above, contains an action that is happening in the future and will have been completed by a specific time period (noted with time adverbs). The future perfect CONTINUOUS tense, on the other hand, uses an ongoing action that you will be enacting for a duration of time but will be completed in the future. (e.g. By next Monday, I will have been working at my company for three years).
The form of the verb is will’ + passive to have’ + infinitive’ + -ing.’
Time adverbs indicate both the duration of action time as well as when the action will be completed so the future progressive and future perfect progressive can be very easily misidentified and used incorrectly.
Future Tense Examples
This section demonstrates what these verb tenses actually look like in simple future, future continuous, future perfect, and future perfect continuous.
- I will go to the store and pick up the groceries.
- We are going to walk the dog around the block a few times.
- I will be talking to your teacher tomorrow.
- We will be taking you and your friends to the movies on Saturday for your birthday.
- I will have read two more chapters in my textbook by dinner.
- You will have made $20 in sales when you finish selling the rest of your cookies today.
Future Perfect Continuous
- By next week, I will have been taking piano lessons for three years.
- We will have been riding in the car for eight hours when we reach my grandma’s house.
To summarize, you now possess the knowledge of how to talk about actions, events, and situations happening in some future time as well as to talk about your hopes for the future. The four tenses are, of course, simple future, future perfect, future progressive, and future perfect progressive. For the most part, they are easily created and used in sentences; however, it is a good idea to practice future perfect and future perfect progressive as the differences are more subtle than other verb forms.
Once you complete reading this article and have reviewed the examples a couple of times, read through each section again to help cement this foundation of your grammar. The hope is that this article has now instilled you with some confidence in your knowledge and, now, it is time to feel comfortable with your skills in practice.
Your best bet in completing your lessons is to employ future tenses in your speaking and your writing (whether formal papers or simply informal emails or blog posts) and, certainly, reading. It isn’t so important what you read (blogs, magazines, comics, novels, short stories, technical papers, forum posts, etc…) as much as it is that you are critical about what you are reading. Think about the words, consider what they mean and how they are used in these sentences. Re-write them if you must (but don’t play the part of grammar police on a public forum).
As always, keep a web page handy to look up the meanings and grammar usages for your words so you can keep practicing. After thinking long and hard about the future, start putting this tense together with your knowledge of past and present to form a complete toolbox of grammar that will make your words more rich and fluid.
Future Tense Infographic
The Four Future Tenses in English Grammar