There are two main ways to express the future in English. They are sometimes interchangeable, but they often have different meanings.
Note: There is a short form for the modal verb “will” in both the affirmative and negative.
|Afirmativo ||Forma corta ||Negativo ||Forma corta |
| I will || I’ll || I will not || I won’t |
| you will || you’ll || you will not || you won’t |
| he will || he’ll || he will not || he won’t |
| she will || she’ll || she will not || she won’t |
| it will || it’ll || it will not || it won’t |
| we will || we’ll || we will not || we won’t |
| they will || they’ll || they will not || they won’t |
Subject + “will” + principal verb…
| ||I will [I’ll] call you tonight.|
| ||She will [She’ll] arrive late.|
| ||They will [They’ll] be happy to see you.|
Subject + “will” + “not” + principal verb…
| ||I will not [won’t] call you tonight.|
| ||She will not [won’t] arrive late.|
| ||They will not [won’t] be happy to see you.|
3. Interrogative Sentences
“Will” + subject + principal verb…?
| ||Will you call me tonight?|
| ||Will they be happy to see you?|
Future: “Going to”
Subject + auxiliary verb (to be) + “going to” + principal verb…
| ||I am going to call you tonight.|
| ||She is going to arrive late.|
| ||They are going to be happy to see you.|
Subject + auxiliary verb (to be) + “not” + “going to” + principal verb…
| ||I’m not going to call you tonight.|
| ||She isn’t going to arrive late.|
| ||They aren’t going to be happy to see you.|
3. Interrogative Sentences
Auxiliary verb (to be) + subject + “going to” + principal verb…?
| ||Are you going to call me tonight?|
| ||Is she going to arrive late?|
| ||Are they going to be happy to see you?|
Note: For imminent actions or events, we can say “to be about to”. The structure is the same as “to be going to”.
| ||The concert is about to begin.|
Both “will” and “to be going to” are used for expressing the future, but the use of one over the other implies something about the probability of the action occurring in the future. The aspect that differentiates “to be going to” with “will” is in the sense of “planning”. In general, “to be going to” is used for concrete plans, when we are quite certain that something is going to happen.
1. We use “will” with voluntary actions.
| ||They will clean their rooms.|
| ||She won’t work with Paul.|
2. “Will” is used to express a promise.
| ||When I am president, I will lower taxes.|
| ||He promises he will call when he arrives.|
3. “To be going to” is used for plans; it indicates the intention to do something.
| ||We are going to have a party tonight.|
| ||Richard is going to take an English class.|
| ||Are they going to play football later?|
4. Either “will” or “to be going to” can be used for making predictions. When there is evidence that something is going to happen, we use “going to”.
| ||It will be a great party. / It is going to be a great party.|
| ||It won’t rain. / It isn’t going to rain.|
Note: There are some situations in which we use the present continuous or the present simple to express actions in the future.
1. The present continuous can be used for actions in the near future or actions that are certain.
| ||Sarah is arriving tonight.|
| ||I am going to the doctor this afternoon.|
2. We use the present simple for events scheduled in the future and timetables for trains, flights, etc.
| ||The train leaves at 10am.|