Expressing future actions in English language can be done in several ways. English learners (particularly Vietnamese learners) tend to use “will” for any future action they want to express. Using “will” makes the listener understand that the action is about future although it is not always the correct way of expressing future. Here you have the seven ways you can use for expressing future actions in English, presented in a very simple way.
Present Simple – Schedule times
The train leaves at 5 o’clock.
The meeting starts at 2.15.
Present Continuous – Arrangements
I’m having dinner with my mother tonight.
We’re leaving tomorrow.
Going to – Plans/Intentions
I’m going to watch TV tonight.
I’m going to be a policeman when I grow up.
Predictions with present evidence.
It’s going to rain.
She’s going to have a baby.
Will – Spontaneous decision
I’ll give you my phone number.
It’s raining. I’ll take an umbrella.
Predictions (expressing facts about the future, something we cannot control)
It will be cloudy and windy tomorrow.
My father will be in hospital for at least 3 weeks.
Willingness (offers, promises, expressing willingness to do something)
John will translate it for you. He speaks Italian.
I’ll give it to you tomorrow.
Future Continuous – Actions at or over a period of time
I’ll be having dinner at 8 o’clock.
I’ll be wearing a hat. (So you can recognize me)
Future Perfect – Actions which take place at some point before a specific future time
By the year 2000, the population of the world will have reached 6 billion.
I’ll have finished by the time you get here!
About to – Refers to the immediate future. It means that something will happen without delay.
(Note: Not about to has a completely different meaning.)
We’re about to start.
I’m about to switch this off.