Using future tenses in English, Part 2

In English, we use four different verb forms to talk about the future. Last week we looked at two of the four, and this week we want to focus on the other two.

Guesses about the future: If you want to say what you think might happen in the future, use “will + verb”.

Example 1: She will be very happy about the big order from the client.

Example 2: I think they will like their new apartment.

You might remember from last week’s post that there’s another way to make predictions (Vorhersagen) about the future: “to be + going to + verb”. Use that form when you have information that shows the prediction is almost certain to happen. Use “will + verb” when you don’t have that information and are making a guess. In sentences with “will + verb” we often use “I think,” “I guess,” and “maybe” as well.

Other uses of “will + verb” for the future: We also use “will + verb” to make a spontaneous decision about something or to offer to help someone.

Example 1, a spontaneous decision: I think I’ll order the fish.

Example 2, an offer to help someone: I’ll help you with your laptop this afternoon.

Transport schedules: If you want to talk about a timetable for a bus, train, plane or other form of transport, use the simple present form.

Example 1: The train arrives at 2 p.m.

Example 2: Our flight departs at 10:30.

In sum, use “will + verb” when you want to make a guess about the future, a spontaneous decision, or an offer to help. Use the simple present form for the future when you talk about transport schedules such as buses, planes and trains.

Mindy Ehrhart Krull
About the author

Originally from the US, Mindy Ehrhart Krull holds a master's degree in journalism and has been teaching English and working as an author, editor and proofreader in Germany since 2008.

At DELS, she leads a team of several English trainers and language professionals.

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