The Simple Future Tense

The simple future tense is used to discuss the future in the most basic way. In this lesson we will firstly look at how the tense is created (looking at affirmative; interrogative; negative for each way) and then when it is used

The future simple tense is made using:

  • will
  • shall

Note though that the future can also be discussed using going to, the present simple, and the present continuous

Grammar Rules for 'Will' and 'Shall'

Will and shall are formed in the following ways:

  • Affirmative: Subject + will + verb (I will go)
  • Interrogative (yes/no): Will + subject + verb (Will you go?)
  • Interrogative (Wh/how): Question word + will + subject + verb (Where will you go?)
  • Negative: Subject + will + not (won't) + verb (They won't go)

They are both modal verbs (i.e. must, should, can, ought to etc). They therefore follow the same rules as all modal verbs: 

  1. They are used with another verb in the base form i.e. without 'to' (e.g. I shall go)
  2. No 's' is added to the base verb for the third person (i.e. he will go, not he will goes).
  3. We don't use it with 'Do' in questions or negatives.

Examples of the Simple Future Tense

Will

To make the future simple tense, we use 'will + bare infinitive', with this moved to before the subject for questions. For the negative, we add in 'not'. 

In speech or informal writing we use contractions. Will becomes 'll and in the negative, we say won't.

Affirmative:

  • I will see you later (I'll see you...)
  • She will be happy to come as well (she'll be happy...)
  • The school will except his application

Interrogative: Yes / No questions

  • Will the government raise interest rates? (Yes, it will)
  • Will you help me with this?
  • Will we cook tonight?

Interrogative: 'Wh' & 'How' Questions

  • Why will you ask him about it?
  • Where will we go?
  • What price will the tickets sell for?
  • What time will it start?
  • When will they arrive?
  • Who do you think the manger will employ?
  • How will the parcel be sent?

Negative:

  • I will not be coming tonight (I won't be...)
  • They will not change their minds 
  • Taking his side will not do you any favours! 
  • Why will they not reduce the price?

Shall

Shall to discuss the future is less common and is mostly used in formal or legal writing or situations. It is created in much the same way as 'will' but using 'shall + infinitive' instead. 

The negative contraction is shan't.

Generally, 'shall' is used with I or we (the first person), while we would stick with 'will' for you, s/he and they (third person). However, there are times shall is used with the third person too, so it's not a strict rule.

Affirmative:

  • I shall speak to you tomorrow 
  • We shall proceed with the transaction

Interrogative:

  • Shallspeak to you tomorrow?
  • Shall we proceed with the transaction?

Negative:

  • I shall not speak to you tomorrow (I shan't...)
  • We shall not proceed with the transaction (We shan't...)

Using the Future Simple Tense

The future simple tense is used in the following situations:

Spontaneous Unplanned Actions & Decisions

  • You're drunk, I'll get you a taxi home
  • I shan't be coming
  • I'll have the plant-based burger, please

Predictions & Assumptions

  • I think it will rain this afternoon
  • It will be the Socialist Party that wins the election next year
  • It's likely I'll be too tired to play football this afternoon. 

Promises and Threats

  • I shall definitely be there on time
  • She'll kill you if you don't help her with her job application!
  • He promised he'll not spend the money

Refusals

  • I won't take that from you
  • We shan't accept your offer
  • The government won't change it's policy


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