Future Tenses in English Contrasted

1. Use of Future Tenses in English

will-futuregoing to-futurePresent SimplePresent ContinuousFuture ContinuousFuture 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-futuregoing to-futurePresent SimplePresent ContinuousFuture ContinuousFuture Perfect
will + infinitiveto be (am,are,is) + going to + infinitiveinfinitive + S for 3rd person he/she/itto be (am, areis) + infinitive + ingwill + be + infinitive + ingwill + have + past participle

4. Examples

4.1. Affirmative sentences

will-futuregoing to-futurePresent SimplePresent ContinuousFuture ContinuousFuture Perfect
It will rain tomorrowWe are going to learn English next year.The flight leaves at 10:00I 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-futuregoing to-futurePresent SimplePresent ContinuousFuture ContinuousFuture Perfect
It will not rain tomorrow.We are not going to learn English next year.The flight does not leave at 10:00I am not going to the cinema. tonightThey will not be playing football on Saturday.I will not have finished the book by tomorrow.

4.3. Questions

will-futuregoing to-futurePresent SimplePresent ContinuousFuture ContinuousFuture 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?