ReadingESL stories and readings in English for ESL learners


Talking about the Future

There are many ways of talking about the future.  

English also has future perfect and future continuous verb tenses.



1.  Use the present simple (base form of the verb) + future markers/words.   LINK: more about the present simple tense

Schedules, timetables and some imperative sentences.

passengers getting on a Delta airplane schedule of departures by Via rail at Union Station in Toronto dialing a phone number
My flight arrives at noon tomorrow.
Your train leaves in two hours.
Call me later.
[Imperative sentence]


2. Use the present continuous + future markers/words.   LINK: more about the present continuous verb tense.

Planned events, or events being planned, in the future.

three women at an outdoor restaurant
'Lunch' by prideandvegudice, from flickr
traffic by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris two green tents at a campsite in the woods
'Day 1 Campsite' by MJIphotos, from flickr
I'm meeting my friends for lunch next week. Leon's hoping to go to Paris in July. Ron's family is going camping next week. 


3.  "Going to" future

The present continuous and the "going to" future are very similar.  The "going to" future is a little bit more personal.

To make the "going to" future: subject + to be + going to + base form of the main verb.   LINK: more about the "going to" future

lots of fruit and vegetables for sale at an outdoor market a bunch of broccoli an abstract work of art with a large orange square and some brown metal bits
Jill's going to shop at the market on Saturday. She's going to buy broccoli. After Jill finishes shopping, she's going to meet me at the art gallery.


4.  Future simple verb tense      LINK to more about the future simple tense

a frilly purple top on a mannequin three friends having lunch together three cyclists in a race
'Race' by MrDays, taken from flickr
I think I'll wear my purple dress today. Stella won't be home for dinner.  She'll be out with her friends instead. Who do you think will win the race?


5.  With the words about to (and base form of the verb)

a crowd of people all with umbrellas that are open
'yellow umbrella' by solidether, from flickr
a sunflower just before it is fully opened
'sunflower, about to open' by mclcbooks, flickr
children sitting along the edge of a swimming pool
'Ready to swim' by terren in Virginia, flickr
Take your umbrella with you.  It looks like it's about to rain. The flowers are about to open. They are about to start the race.


6. With modals can, may, might, could, should, ought to (with base form of verb and future marker/word)

construction at an intersection in Toronto a cute grey, white and black cat a piece of chocolate layer cake on a plate, with a fork
'Sugarbarns Signature Chocolate Cake' by Sugarbarn, flickr
The construction should be finished next week.
The construction might be finished next week.
The construction may be finished earlier if it doesn't rain too much.
Can you look after my cat this week-end?
Yes, I can look after your cat.
Yes, I should be able to look after your cat.
Ida thinks she ought to take some food to the party tomorrow night.
Ida might bake a cake to take to the party.