Future Progressive ~Meaning and Use

future_continuousThis post will show you how to use the Future Progressive, also called the Future Continuous. To see how to form the Future Progressive, click here.

The Future Progressive puts the emphasis on the course of an action taking place in the future at a specific time.

I will be studying later so I can’t go out.

You will be sleeping at midnight.

He will be making dinner when you get home tonight.

She won’t be speaking at the conference next Monday.

It won’t be raining tomorrow.

Next fall, we will be enjoying the vegetables we planted in the spring.

They will be living in Santiago next year.

Will they be showing the movie we want to see tonight?

Future Perfect Progressive ~Meaning and Use

future-perfect-cont GraphicThis post will show you how to use the Future Perfect Progressive, also called the Future Perfect Continuous. To see how to form the Future Perfect Progressive, click here.

The Future Perfect Progressive tense is not very common and it’s a bit difficult to make. However, at higher levels it is great to understand it, and maybe even use it sometimes too. It has a very precise meaning, which can be convenient.

We use the Future Perfect Progressive to talk about an ongoing action that takes place before a certain time in the future, or to emphasize a course of action. We often use the Future Perfect Progressive to round up to an even number. We like whole, round numbers and this tense allows us to use those numbers.

A future time expression is usually stated or implied, often with by. This can go at the beginning or end of the sentence with no difference in meaning.

  • By the year 2020, linguists will have been studying Indo-European languages for 200 years. (This is easier than saying that now, in 2015, linguists have been studying Indo-European languages for 195 years. It’s easier to just round up to 200)
  • We will have been driving for six hours by the time we get home.
  • By next March, I will have been teaching here for three years.
  • By the end of this month, we will have been living together for six months.

Future Perfect Progressive ~ Verb Form

This post will show you how to form the Future Perfect Progressive. To see how to use the Future Perfect Progressive, click here.

 

Affirmative Statements

Subject + Will Have Already Been Verb + ing Future Time Expression
I’ll have already been waiting for an hour by the time they arrive.
You’ll have been working for hours when she starts.
She’ll/He’ll/It’ll have been traveling for three months
We’ll have already been studying for hours by dinner time.
They’ll/You’ll (plural) have already been driving by next June.

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Negative Statements

Future Time Expression Subject Still Will Not (won’t) Have Been Verb + ing
By the time I am 30, I   won’t have been working here for ten years.
When I get home, you   won’t have been studying for too long.
In five years’ time she/he/it still won’t have been doing anything with her life.
By 4:00 am, we still won’t have been sleeping.
By next June, they/you (plural) won’t have been traveling anymore.
     

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Wh- Questions

Wh- word Will Subject Have Been Verb + ing Future Time Expression
What will I have been doing by the time I turn 40?
Who will you have been waiting for?
Where will she/he/it have been living by next year?
Why will you have been sleeping all day?
How will we have been surviving for so long?

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Yes/No Questions

Will Subject Have Been Verb + ing Future Time Expression
Will I have been working for hours by the time she gets home?
Will you have been speaking English for a long time before you move to Melbourne?
Will she/he/it have been traveling for a long time when you come back?
Will we have been everything before we leave?
Will they/you (plural) have been exercising all day?

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Short Answers

Yes Subject Will Have   No Subject Will Not (Won’t) Have
Yes, I will have.   No, I won’t have.
Yes, you will have.   No, you won’t have.
Yes, she/he/it will have.   No, he won’t have.
Yes, we will have.   No, we won’t have.
Yes, they will have.   No, they’re not. won’t have.

 

Future Perfect – Verb Form

This post will show you how to form the Future Perfect. To see how to use the Future Perfect, click here.

 

Affirmative Statements

Subject Will/Be Going To Have Already Past Participle Future Time Expression
I will/am going to have had two children by the time I am 30.
You will/are going to have already made dinner when I get home.
She/He/It will/is going to have seen most of Asia in five years’ time.
We will/are going to have already finished our homework by dinner time.
They/You (plural) will/are going to have saved enough money for a new car by next June.

 

 

Negative Statements

We don’t usually contract will not to won’t, you should use the full form with this verb tense.

Future Time Expression Subject Still Will Not/Be Not Going To Have Past Participle
By the time I am 30, I   will not/am not going to have had any children.
When I get home, you   will not/are not going to have made dinner.
In five years’ time she/he/it still will not/is not going to have seen most of Asia
By dinner time, we still will not/are not going to have finished our homework.
By next June, they/you (plural) will not/are not going to have saved enough money for a new car.
     

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Information Questions

Wh- word Will Subject Have Past Participle Future Time Expression
What will I have accomplished in three years’ time?
Who will you have worked with?
Where will she/he/it have traveled by next year?
When will we have talked?
How will we have done

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Yes/No Questions

Will Subject Have Past Participle Future Time Expression
Will I have done my homework by the time he comes?
Will you have perfected your English by the time you return from Vancouver?
Will she/he/it have bought a new house in five years’ time?
Will we have seen everything before we leave?

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Short Answers

Yes Subject Will Have No Subject Will Not (Won’t) Have
Yes, I will have. No, I won’t have.
Yes, you will have. No, you won’t have.
Yes, she/he/it will have. No, he won’t have.
Yes, we will have. No, we won’t have.
Yes, they will have. No, they won’t have.

 

Future Perfect – Meaning and Use

future_perfect GraphicThis post will show you how to use the Future Perfect. To see how to form the Future Perfect, click here.

We use Will or Be Going To to talk about an event that will be completed some time in the future.

A future time expression is usually stated or implied, often with by, and it can go at the beginning or end of the sentence with no difference in meaning.

 

The Future Perfect with will:

  • I will have studied hard for the test.
  • He’s going to have done the dishes by the time we finish eating.
  • Why won’t she have finished the project by next week?
  • In ten years, robots will have become more common.
  • After a few years in Europe, she will have tried many different foods.
  • Will he have learned enough Italian before he moves to Italy?

 

The Future Perfect with be going to:

  • I am going to have studied hard for the test.
  • By the time we finish eating, he’s going to have done the dishes.
  • Why will she have gotten paid earlier than usual?
  • By next March, it isn’t going to have warmed up
  • Is he going to have bought a new car by the time he graduates?
  • She is going to have had that book past its due date if she doesn’t return it tomorrow.

Future Simple – Verb Form

This post will show you how to form the Future Simple. To see how to use the Future Simple, click here.

The FOUR future forms are: Be Going To, Present Progressive (also called the Present Continuous), Will, and the Present Simple.

THE FUTURE WITH BE GOING TO

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Affirmative Statements

Subject Be Going To Base Verb
I am going to help later.
You are going to work tomorrow.
She/He/It is going to rain again.
We are going to have so much fun!
They/You (plural) are going to send her a package.
     

Negative Statements

Subject Be Not Going To Base Verb
I am not going to finish in time.
You are not going to go away this weekend.
She/He/It is not going to see the doctor.
We are not going to cook dinner
They/You (plural) are not going to buy a new car.

Yes/No Questions

Be Subject Going To Base Verb
Am I going to be okay?
Are you going to clean the house?
Is she/he/it going to study next semester?
Are we going to stick to the plan?
Are they/you (plural) going to live in New Zealand?

Short Answers

Yes Subject Be No Subject + Be + Not
Yes, I am. No, I’m not.
Yes, he is. No, he’s not.
Yes, they are. No, they’re not.

Information Questions

WH- Word Be Subject Going To Base Verb
Who are you going to call later?
What is she going to do tomorrow?
When are they going to study at the library?
Who (subject) is going to win the election?
What (subject) is going to happen next?

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THE FUTURE WITH THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS/PROGRESSIVE

Affirmative Statements

Subject +Be Verb + ing
I’m helping later.
You ‘re moving next week.
She’s/He’s/It’s coming tomorrow.
We’re cooking dinner tonight.
They’re/You’re changing schools next month.

Negative Statements

Subject + Be Not Verb + ing
I’m not leaving yet.
You’re not taking an exam tomorrow.
She’s/He’s/It’s not playing soccer next Saturday.
We’re not staying with relatives.
They’re/You’re not graduating this semester.

Yes/No Questions

Be Subject Verb + ing
Am I going to work tomorrow?
Are you moving to Japan?
Is she/he/it going to Europe next summer?
Are we doing anything for Valentine’s Day?
Are they/you (plural) coming to the party this weekend?

Short Answers

Yes Subject Be No Subject + Be + Not
Yes, I am. No, I’m not.
Yes, he is. No, he’s not.
Yes, they are. No, they’re not.

Information Questions

WH- Word Be Subject Verb + ing
Who are you calling later?
What is she doing tomorrow?
When are they studying at the library?
Who (subject) is going to head office?
What (subject) is happening next?

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THE FUTURE WITH WILL + BASE VERB

Affirmative Statements

Subject + Will Adverb Base Verb
I’ll study much harder, I promise.
You’ll be cold without a jacket.
She’ll/He’ll/It’ll most likely have a good time at the party.
We’ll hopefully see piranhas in the Amazon.
They’ll/You’ll (plural) probably do their homework in the morning.

Negative Statements

Subject Adverb Will + Not (won’t) Base Verb
I probably won’t exercise tomorrow.
You won’t be happy about this.
She/He/It won’t spend the summer in Hollywood.
We most likely won’t live on Mars in the future.
They/You (plural) probably won’t like the weather in Wisconsin.
   

Yes/No Questions

Will Subject Base Verb
Will I see you next week?
Will you do me a favor?
Will she/he/it finish this soon?
Will we work full-time?
Will they/you (plural) be on time for class tomorrow?

Short Answers

Yes Subject Will No Subject + Will + Not
Yes, I will. No, I won’t.
Yes, he will. No, he won’t.
Yes, they will. No, they won’t.

Information Questions

WH- Word Will Subject Base Verb
Who will you call later?
What will she do tomorrow?
When will they study at the library?
Who (subject) will go to head office?
What (subject) will happen next?

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FURURE WITH PRESENT SIMPLE

Affirmative Statements

Subject Present Simple
I leave on a 6:00 am flight.
You arrive tomorrow night.
She/He/It starts next fall.
We open the store at 9:00 am.
They/You (plural) close at 5:00 pm.

Negative Statements

Subject Do Not (don’t), Does Not (doesn’t) Present Simple
I don’t leave on a 6:00 am flight.
You don’t arrive tomorrow night.
She/He/It doesn’t start next fall.
We don’t open at 9:00 am.
They don’t close at 5:00 pm.

Yes/No Questions

Do/Does Subject Present Simple
Do I work early tomorrow?
Do you arrive next week?
Does she/he/it start on time?
Do we leave after breakfast?
Do they/you (plural) go to the airport this Sunday?

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Information Questions

WH- Word Do/Does Subject Base Verb
Who do I call if I have a problem?
What does she do to register?
When do they arrive in Kenya?
Who (subject)   goes to head office tomorrow?
What (subject)   happens next?

Future Simple – Verb Meaning and Use

This post will show you how to use the Future Simple. To see how to form the Future Simple, click here.

We use Be Going To and the Present Continuous to talk about a planned event or future intention. A future time expression is usually stated or implied with the Present Continuous in order to avoid confusion.

Future with Be Going To

  • I am going to study hard tonight for the test.
  • He’s going to do the dishes after dinner.
  • Why isn’t she going to work next week?

Future with Present Continuous

  • I am studying hard tonight for the test.
  • He’s doing the dishes after dinner.
  • Why isn’t she working next week?

. Be Going To and the Present Continuous are usually similar, but not exactly the same. With Be Going To the speaker may not have an exact plan. With the Present Continuous, the plan is often more definite. Future with Be Going To

  • I’m going to leave my job (someday). I’m so unhappy
  • He’s going to buy a new car but he doesn’t know what kind yet.

Future with Present Continuous

  • I’m leaving my job (next week). I have been so unhappy here.
  • He’s buying a new car tomorrow! He has already chosen it.

. We use Be Going To for predictions, especially when there is evidence that something is just about to happen. Do not use the Present Continuous for predictions. Future predictions with Be Going To

  • Be careful! That glass is going to fall!!
  • That glass is falling. (incorrect)
  • It’s cloudy. It’s going to rain tonight.
  • It is raining tonight (incorrect)
  • They’re going to win the game tonight. They are the better team.
  • They are winning tonight (incorrect)

. Future with Will We use Will or Be Going To to make predictions or expectations. You can also use probably and other adverbs with Will and Be Going To to express certainty or uncertainty. Future with will

  • Electric cars will become popular in the next ten years.
  • Electric cars are going to become popular in the next ten years.
  • They will probably win the championship.
  • They are probably going to win the championship.
  • It will warm up
  • It’s going to warm up

With predictions, the meanings of Will and Be Going To are not exactly the same. Use Be Going To when you are more certain that an event will happen because there is evidence. Do not use Will in this situation. In this situation, Will needs a requirement to be met first.

  • She’s going to have a baby. (She is pregnant)
  • She will have a baby (If she gets married. She is not pregnant now).
  • They are going to win (They are the best team)
  • They will win tonight (if they can keep the ball).

. In statements with I, the first person, Will and Be Going To have different meanings. Will is often used to express a quick decision made at the time of speaking. Be Going To, however, shows that you have thought about something in advance. Do not use Be Going To for quick decisions. Will for quick decisions

  • A: “Does anyone want to help me?” B: “I will help. What can I do?”
  • A: “There’s someone at the door.” B: “I will answer
  • A: “What would you like to eat today?” B: “I’ll have the soup and salad.”

Be Going To for advanced plans

  • A: “What are your plans for the weekend?” B: “I’m going to help my sister move tomorrow.”
  • A: “Do we have any alcohol for the party?” B: “Not yet. I’m going to pick it up

. In statements with I, Will is often used to express a promise. Will for promises

  • I will do my homework.
  • I won’t tell anyone!
  • I will be on time.
  • I won’t quit school.

. We use the Present Simple for future events, mostly schedules, which are out of our control. Future with Present Simple

  • The plane leaves at 9:15 tomorrow.
  • School starts at 8am and finishes at 3pm.
  • The stores open at 9am everyday.
  • He arrives on the 4 o’clock bus next Saturday.
  • What time does the movie begin?

Can vs. Be Able To

There is often some confusion about can and be able to, so let’s see if I can clear that up a bit for you.

Can and be able to are often interchangeable and you can usually use either one without a difference in meaning.  But not always.

Can is a  modal auxiliary verb that expresses general ability in the Present tense, or could for general ability in the Past tense.

Be able to is not a modal auxiliary verb, it’s just the verb “be” + the adverb “able” + the infinitive “to”. 

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Present Ability. We use both can and be able to, but can is much more common:

✔ James can speak three languages.

✔ James is able to speak three languages.

✔ Michelle can easily multitask.

✔ Michelle is able to easily multitask.

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Future Ability. We only use will be able to to talk about a future skill or ability that you don’t have yetbut you will have in the future. We never use can for an ability that you will only have in the future:

✔ When I finish training I will be able to run a 5 minute mile.

✘ When I finish training I can run a 5 minute mile.

✔ I will be able to see better when I get new glasses.

✘ I can see better when I get new glasses.

We use either can or be able to when we are talking about decisions and future arrangements:

✔ The doctor can see you next Monday.

✔ The doctor is able to see you next Monday.

✔ I’m busy now, but I can help you in an hour.

✔ I’m busy now, but I’ll be able to help you in an hour.

✔ Mom can drive you to school tomorrow.

✔ Mom is able to drive you to school tomorrow.

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Past Ability.  We use could or was/were able to to talk about an ability that existed for a long time in the past, but which isn’t true now:

✔ When I was young, I was able to eat like a pig and not get fat.

✔ When I was young, I could eat like a pig and not get fat.

✔ When I was a teenager, I could stay up all night without getting tired.

✔ When I was a teenager, I was able to stay up all night without getting tired.

We only use was/were able to with action verbs to talk about an ability related to a single event:

✔ We were able to go sailing yesterday because the weather was so nice.

✘ We could go sailing yesterday because the weather was so nice.

✔ I was able to file my taxes online this year.

✘ I could file my taxes online this year.

✔ Yesterday we were able to get tickets for the concert.

✘ Yesterday we could get tickets for the concert.

But we use either can or was/were able to with some stative verbs (see, hear, feel, taste) to talk about an ability related to a single event:

✔ Were you able to see the fireworks from your balcony last night?

✔ Could you see the fireworks from your balcony last night?

✔ I was able to taste the salt in her cooking.

✔ I could taste the salt in her cooking.

✔ Because I was sitting in the front row, I was able to hear the teacher clearly.

✔ Because I was sitting in the front row, I could hear the teacher clearly.

We use couldn’t or wasn’t/weren’t able to for negative statements for both single events and a long period of time:

✔ Yesterday he wasn’t able to finish his dinner.

✔ Yesterday he couldn’t finish his dinner.

✔ I wasn’t able to swim when I was younger.

✔ I couldn’t swim when I was younger.

✔ We weren’t able to get tickets for the concert.

✔ We couldn’t get tickets for the concert.

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Here is a visual chart to help you out:

Can/Could (affirmative) Cannot/Can’t/Couldn’t Be Able To (affirmative) Be Able To (negative)
Past Ability She could read when she was five. She couldn’t read when she was five. She was able to read when she was five. She wasn’t able to read when she was five.
Past Repeated Actions When they were young, they could run marathons. When they were young, they couldn’t run marathons. When they were young, they were able to run marathons. When they were young, they weren’t able to run marathons.
Past, Single Action, Stative Verb I could feel the wind in my hair. I couldn’t feel the wind in my hair. I was able to feel the wind in my hair. I wasn’t able to feel the wind in my hair.
Past, Single Action, Action Verb NOT POSSIBLE!! I couldn’t get tickets for the concert. I was able to get tickets for the concert. I wasn’t able to get tickets for the concert.
Present Ability They can speak Italian. They can’t speak Italian. They are able to speak Italian. They aren’t able to speak Italian.
Future Ability or Skill NOT POSSIBLE!! When we pass our driver’s exam, we will be able to drive a car.
Future Decisions and Arrangements The dentist can see you tomorrow morning. The dentist can’t see you tomorrow morning. The dentist will be able to see you tomorrow morning. The dentist won’t be able to see you tomorrow morning.

Second Conditional: Unreal Possibility

The Second Conditional used for impossible situations, unlikely events, dreams, and advice.

This conditional talks about the future, but there isn’t usually a real possibility that this condition will happen.

Imagine winning the lottery.  Even though you don’t have a ticket, you could buy a lottery ticket in the future and win, so you can still imagine what you would do if that ever happened.  It’s not very real, but it’s still possible.

We use the Past Simple to talk about the future condition.  We use would or could  or might base verb to talk about the result.

The “be” verb is usually conjugated in the subjunctive form of “were“.

IF Condition Result
If  loved her,  would marry her.
If They won the lottery, they could buy a new house.
If she were happy at work, she might not be looking for another job.
If were in your position, would understand.
If you went to Paris, would you visit the Eiffel Tower?
Result IF Condition
I would get a new job if I were you.
I could be rich if I worked harder.
She might marry Sam if he became rich.
He would do it for me if I asked him.
What would you do if you lived in China?

The difference between the First and Second conditional is usually a matter of the speaker’s attitude rather than facts.  For example, Kristen thinks these things are possible, but Jackie doesn’t.

  • Kristen: If I win the lottery, I will travel the world.
  • Jackie: If I won the lottery, I would travel the world.
  • Kristen: If I have more spare time, I will join the sports club.
  • Jackie: If I had more spare time, I would join the sports club.

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We can also use the Past Progressive in the “if” clause. For example:

  • If we were working together, we would finish much faster.
  • If you were living in Vancouver, you could see me every day.

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Sometimes the “if” clause is implied and not directly stated. For example:

  • What would I do without you? (if you weren’t here)
  • He wouldn’t agree. (if I asked him)