I Simple Future
1. will/ shall
Future tense forms are formed by placing
· ‘will’* before base verbs in first person singular and plural ( I and we)
· ‘will’ before base verbs in second person singular and plural (you, you)
· ‘will’ before base verbs in third person singular and plural (nouns, he, she, it,
I will/ ’ll come tomorrow. You will (’ll) meet me this evening. She will (’ll) see you.
Will you talk to him? Will he oblige? When will she attend to the file?
Note: ’ll is the shortened form of ‘will’.
*Traditional grammar says shall is the correct future auxiliary to be used with ‘I’ and ‘we’.
But ‘……, many people avoid shall except in the interrogative and use will all the time for
affirmative and negative…..’ say Thomson and Martinet in their A Practical English Grammar.
Quirk et al in their A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language also say the use
of shall with I and we ‘is nowadays widely ignored.’ People use will or ‘ll with ‘I’ and ‘we’.
In other words, people say ‘I’ll meet you tomorrow’, not ‘I shall meet you tomorrow’. Shall
is used with I or we in interrogatives to seek response from a listener or to make suggestions
about shared activities:
Shall I talk to my superior about this? (seeking response)
Shall we meet at Suresh’s house for a discussion? (seeking suggestions)
2. be + going to + full verbs
I’m going to complain if things don’t improve. (future fulfilment of the present)
She’s going to have a baby. (future result of present cause)
3. be + -ing participle
The match is starting at 2.30 (tomorrow).
4. present simple tense form (bare verbs)
School closes on 31 March.
What will you do if I don’t marry you? (conditional clause)
I’ll inform her when she arrives. (time clause)
5. be + to-infinitive
The Prime Minister is to visit Japan next month. (present arrangement for future)
You’re to meet the Company representative and collect the documents.
(order about a future duty/responsibility)
6. Verbs in imperative
Search the room thoroughly!
Make yourself a cup of tea.
Don’t drop it!
Don’t wait for me!
7. other verbs
The weather may improve. (tomorrow)
You must have dinner with us. (sometime soon)
I intend to resign next Monday.
I hope to be married soon.
II Future Progressive
1. actions that will be progressive at some point of time in future time:
When you reach the end of the bridge, I’ll be waiting to show you the way.
2. actions that describe normal procedures and routine events in future time:
The Inspector will be visiting your school again in three months.
Good bye! We’ll be seeing you.
I’ll be following your progress with great interest.
III Future Perfect
1. This expresses
actions that began in the past time, goes on in the present time and will complete some
time in the future:
We will have arrived in New York by this time tomorrow.
It’s now 6.30 p.m.; I’ll have finished my work by 10 o’clock.
In another year or so, you’ll have forgotten all about him.
2. assumptions or possibilities in the present time:
You’ll have heard, I expect, that Srikala is going to be married in another two weeks.
It’s five o’clock; they’ll have arrived home by now.
3. actions or states of some duration up to a certain time in the future:
On July 29, we’ll have been married for 38 years.
At the end of this academic year, you’ll have taught for 43 years.
Note: This use of future perfect means that the action/state will not complete at a given time
in the future but will in all likelihood continue to be true.
IV The messages are different between simple future and future progressive:
When will you pay back the money?
(=I’m not interested in your problems; I want my money back.)
When will you be paying back the money?
(How soon can you pay the money back? / Repayment here is a matter of course.)
We will fly at 30,000 feet.
(The pilot had just decided to fly at that height.)
We will be flying at 30,000 feet.
(It’s the normal height that the pilot is talking about.)
The next train to Tambaram will arrive at platform four.
The next train Tambaram will be arriving at platform four.
There is no direct human involvement. The difference between these two is not as
important here as it is in the other two examples. However, the future progressive is
more informal than the simple future.
V Future tense as a concept
It’s said that there’s no future tense in the English language.
The argument goes like this:
1. To form past and present tenses,
we inflect (= make changes in) regular verbs
with the addition of ‘s/es’, ‘-ing’ and ‘ed’ at the end
we inflect irregular verbs with difference in their spellings:
begin speak put
begins speaks puts
beginning speaking putting
began spoke put
begun spoken put
* These are derivatives of ‘be’.
It is these inflections (=additions and different spellings ) that result in the past and present forms of full and primary verbs.
2. There is no such inflection in the tense forms with regard to expressing ‘future’. We
don’t make any changes by adding to the verbs or changing their spellings. We simply
use different expressions to convey ‘future’ time:
1. will/ ’ll for ALL ‘persons’ before full verbs and primary verbs
indicates actions and states as occurring in future time:
full verbs primary verbs
We’ll } I’ll be rich soon.
You’ll } talk to the manager. I’ll have a solution soon.
He’ll } I’ll do what you say.
Inflection occurs thought the addition of ‘s’ or ‘es’ or ‘ed’; this is not a uniform happening because we make changes in the spelling of a verb. The key word is ‘addition’. If one or two letters can be added at the end of a verb or one or two letters can be changed to indicate the time of an action or a state, the addition of will/shall before a verb also indicates the time of an action or state.
I think we’re splitting hairs.
For instance, if ‘go’ can transform itself into ‘went’ and if ‘go’ can take derivatives of ‘be’ for present or past progressive forms, why can’t ‘go’ take ‘will’ to form future tense form to indicate future time? ‘Will’ is an addition just as ‘es’ is an addition to ‘go’, since both are additions, whether the addition gets attached to the verb or placed before it, where’s the harm saying we have the future tense forms.
Another argument is tense forms are only AIDS to expressing time, they don’t substitute ‘time’. Simply put, several forms as a bunch express the three times’. What are these finer distinctions for if not to serve OUR intentions, to carry messages?