How do we use the simple future tense?
Knowing verb tenses is a fundamental part of learning any language, especially English. As you probably know, the verb in a sentence shows the action. The tense tells us when the action is, was, or in the case of this lesson, when the action will be or is going to be.
Today we are going to look using the simple future tense to talk about the future in English.
In general, we use will to talk about the future when we do not have a definite plan. Since will is used when there is not a definite plan, we often use words and phrases like maybe, perhaps, and I think with will. Remember, will is often contracted:
I will → I’ll…..she will → she’ll…..he will → he’ll…..we will → we’ll, etc.
- I have no plans for the weekend. Maybe I‘ll clean the garage
- I think I will move to Florida when I retire.
- Andy said maybe he‘ll buy that house he was looking at.
Now, there are other uses for will, which we are going to look at in another lesson! So in summary, we use will when there is not a set plan. What do we do when we do have a plan?
Well, we use be going to when there is a definite plan:
- A friend of mine is going to get married this weekend.
- I am going to go to the beach this weekend.
- Jenny is going to see a movie tonight.
In some cultures, maybe is used to soften a statement in order to make it seem less direct. In American English, we do not use maybe this way. Be careful! It sounds strange to use maybe with be going to:
Tommy: What are you going to do this weekend?
Johnny: Maybe, I am going to go to Boston for my cousin’s wedding. This sounds strange!
Keep in mind the best way to remember this or any vocabulary in English is to take the word or phrase write it in a sentence that’s true for you or true in your world and then memorize your sentences.
You can even take your sentences and write them in the comments below. I would love to see your examples. And if you really want help with vocabulary, sign up for my free vocabulary workshop (see below).
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Thanks! I am glad you found this helpful! Feel free to pass along your suggestions or requests for another one-point lesson 🙂
When I was a junior high school student,the English teacher taught me about this topic like this. “Be going to do” expresses speaker’s intenion. “Will” expresses speaker’s forecast. His explanation didn’t show the different nuance between them.So I always use “I’m going to do” when I talk about my future. Now I get it.