Talking about the future using the present? It’s possible in English!
Along with remembering vocabulary, learning how to use verbs is one of the most difficult parts of learning a new language…
…or is it?
If you are learning English, no stress! Talking about time is actually quite simple! In fact, you can even talk about the future…using the present.
Many English learners worry that using the present to talk about the future is ‘basic’ or ‘for beginners’. This is not true. English is a practical language, and even native speakers use the present to talk about the future almost every single time! Don’t be afraid to be simple and straight to the point in English!
Let’s get our tutorial started. To talk about the future in English, you can use the Present Simple and the Present Continuous.
Do you remember the Present Simple?
We use the Present Simple to talk about routines, habits, regular events and actions.
We also use it to talk about scientific facts that are always true.
Some examples would be:
“I eat lunch at noon every day”
“We dance together every weekend”
“She runs around the block”
“He works with me”
“My cat is grey”
When do we use the Present Simple to talk about the future?
We use this tense to talk about habits and regular events. However, we can also use it to talk about the future. For example, when we have a set timetable and want to talk about events that will happen at a specific time.
When there is a future event that happens regularly (every year, for example), you can also talk about it using the Present Simple. Some specific words also require you to use the Present Simple, even if we are talking about the future: “as soon as” is a good example.
Examples of the Present Simple when talking about the future
- The lecture starts next Tuesday at 11am.
- It’s her birthday tomorrow, don’t forget!
- You have to deliver a project next week, don’t you?
- As soon as she calls, let me know.
- The train arrives at 9pm. Please, don’t be late!
- What time do you start work tomorrow?
Do you remember the Present Continuous?
When do we use this tense? To talk about situations that are happening at the same time we talk about them.
You can also use the Present Continuous to talk about temporary situations.
We always conjugate the verb to be according to the person, and then add any verb we want adding an -ing to the end.
Here are some examples you could hear in real life:
“I am eating, can we speak later?”
“The children are sleeping, be quiet!”
“You are living in London right now, aren’t you?”
“She is working at the moment.”
And when do we use the Present Continuous to talk about the future?
So you know how to talk about things that are happening right now using the Present Continuous.
But did you know you can also use this tense to talk about the future? Native English speakers often use the Present Continuous to ask or talk about specific plans in the future.
There are two ways you can use the Present Continuous in this context.
You can use going to + verb, or just add -ing to the verb you are using without using “going to”.
Check the examples below!
Examples of the Present Continuous when talking about the future:
- What are you doing tonight?
- I’m going to get some drinks with friends.
- I’m having dinner with a friend on Tuesday.
- Are you going to the movies this evening?
- My parents are coming to see us in 3 days. We’re cleaning the entire place tomorrow!
- We are having a Christmas party at the office. You should come!
When can’t we use the Present to talk about our future?
Another common way of talking about the future in English is using the word “will”.
We usually use “will” to talk about hopes and dreams, predictions of what can happen in the future, or to talk about future events we are quite sure about.
“One day, I will visit Australia.”
“I will speak English fluently in the future.”
“She will be late, I know it.”
One of the best ways to practise new grammar is to use it to tell your own story. We challenge you to write a total of six simple sentences about your future, using the Present Simple and the Present Continuous!
What are your plans for next week?
What are some particular events that you can talk about in the future? Create examples that are relevant to your particular case!