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Future Tenses in English Contrasted

1. Use of Future Tenses in English

will-future going to-future Present Simple Present Continuous Future Continuous Future Perfect
  • prediction, assumption
  • spontaneous action
  • planned action in the future
  • prediction based on evidence
future action is fixed (e.g. timetable) strongly planned action in the future (e.g. arrangements made) action will definitely happen (it usually happens) sth. will happen by or at a certain time in the future

There is often very little difference between the future tenses. It often depends on how you view the possibility and certainty of the action happening.

2. Signal words

There are no unambiguous signal words for the future tenses although anything with a future meaning can be used, i.e: tomorrow, next year, later on etc., That’s why look at the actions carefully and then decide the tense.

3. Form

will-future going to-future Present Simple Present Continuous Future Continuous Future Perfect
will + infinitive to be (am,are,is) + going to + infinitive infinitive + S for 3rd person he/she/it to be (am, areis) + infinitive + ing will + be + infinitive + ing will + have + past participle

4. Examples

4.1. Affirmative sentences

will-future going to-future Present Simple Present Continuous Future Continuous Future Perfect
It will rain tomorrow We are going to learn English next year. The flight leaves at 10:00 I am going to the cinema tonight. They will be playing football on Saturday. I will have finished the book by tomorrow.

4.2. Negative sentences

will-future going to-future Present Simple Present Continuous Future Continuous Future Perfect
It will not rain tomorrow. We are not going to learn English next year. The flight does not leave at 10:00 I am not going to the cinema. tonight They will not be playing football on Saturday. I will not have finished the book by tomorrow.

4.3. Questions

will-future going to-future Present Simple Present Continuous Future Continuous Future Perfect
Will it rain tomorrow? Are we going to learn English next year ? Does the flight leave at 10:00? Am I going to the cinema tonight? Will they be playing football on Saturday? Will I have finished the book by tomorrow?