What is the simple future tense in English? A quick guide

What is the simple future tense in English? A quick guide

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated September 20, 2022

The simple future tense in English is a way to express an action or state of being in the future. When learning English, you’ll eventually get to a point where you need to express or explain things that will happen in the future. 

This article will explain what the simple future tense is, how to use it, and give you some examples. 

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What is the simple future tense in English? 

In English, the simple future tense is also called the future simple tense. Same thing! 

We use this tense to talk about things that haven’t happened yet. It is called simple because it is the most basic way to speak about things in the future. Examples: 

  • I will read that book tomorrow. 
  • We will take vacation this year. 

We use the simple future tense to predict a future event. Example: 

  • It will rain tomorrow. 

It is also used to express decisions that have yet to be carried out. Example: 

  • I will pay the bill. 

How do you form the simple future tense? 

To form the simple future tense you need the auxiliary verb will and a main verb in the infinitive form. You may hear people call this tense the “future tense will” or the “will tense” because it must include the word will

The only thing that changes in simple future tense is the subject

SubjectAuxiliary verbMain verb – infinitive
willsleep
You (singular)willsleep
Hewillsleep
Shewillsleep
Itwillsleep
You (plural)willsleep
We willsleep
Theywillsleep

If we want to form a negative sentence we use the word not. Example: 

  • I will not sleep. You will not sleep. He will not sleep. 

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Contractions with the future simple tense

If you have been studying English for a bit you are probably familiar with contractions. Contractions are usually thought of as casual words and not used frequently in writing. You will hear contractions used in everyday speech. 

In positive sentences the subject is combined with will. 

Example sentenceContraction
I will sleep.I’ll sleep. 
You will sleep. (singular)You’ll sleep. 
He will sleep. He’ll sleep. 
She will sleep. She’ll sleep. 
It will sleep. It’ll sleep. 
You will sleep. (plural)You’ll sleep. 
We will sleep. We’ll sleep. 
They will sleep. They’ll sleep. 

Won’t you be surprised to find out we can make contractions in negative sentences too? In negative sentences we combine will + not = won’t. Examples:

  • I will not sleep. I won’t sleep. 
  • You will not sleep. You won’t sleep. 
  • He will not sleep. He won’t sleep. 

To ask questions in the simple future tense follow this formula: will + subject + infinitive

  • Will you sleep tonight? 
  • Will they eat later? 
  • Will you call your boss tomorrow? 

Simple future tense examples

Let’s look at some simple future tense examples. We use the simple future tense when there is no plan or the decision just happened at the time of speaking. This is for actions that haven’t been carried out yet.

  • The phone is ringing. I will answer it. 
  • I broke my leg. I will go to the doctor. 
  • Maybe we will order takeout tonight. 

The simple future tense is also used to make predictions. Predictions are guesses about the future. 

  • It will rain tomorrow. 
  • Who do you think will win the game tomorrow? 
  • We will not (won’t) eat before 10:00 PM. 

The future is now

Dust off those English books and start studying to help your future self. In English we can use the simple future tense to talk about the future in three specific situations: at the moment of speaking, when there is no previous plan, and to make predictions. The formula is easy to follow and the only piece that changes is the subject! Have fun predicting (and talking about!) your future. 

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Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Czech and Turkish. Her consulting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

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