Future – different forms

It is important to note that in English you must use a future form. In German this is not the case, e.g.
Ich gehe heute Abend ins Kino.
not: I go to the cinema this evening.
rather: I am going to the cinema this evening.

Of additional importance is the question …… which future form should I use?

Future with ‘going to’

Decisions made prior to the time of talking are considered planned. For these events we use the going to future,
e.g. I am going to attend a trade fair tomorrow.

going to + inf (going to visit)
‘going to go’ can be shortened to ‘going to’

Future with ‘will’

If a decision is made during the time of talking it is considered to be spontaneous or unplanned. For this we use the will future,
e.g. It’s cold in the office so I will (I’ll) put the heating on.

We can also use the ‘future will’ to talk about facts, which are not affected by our decisions,
e.g. The conference will start at 2pm.

Present Continuous for ‘future arrangements’

We can use the present continuous to talk about future arrangements.
e.g. I am visiting our head office in Hamburg tomorrow.
We sometimes call it the ‘diary future’ and can be used to talk about arrangements and appointments in our calendars.

Present Simple for ‘future schedules’

We can use the present simple to talk about future timetables, e.g. airport timetables. This is the only occasion we can use the present simple to talk about the future.
e.g. The train departs at 15:40.


There are many different future forms we can use to predict the future. The form you use will be dependent on the strength you want to describe.
It is not possible to 100% predict the future so in English we use different words to describe the strength of possibility.

There are no exercises for this section.