The future with ‘to be about to’

(Expressing the immediate future in English using ‘am/is/are about to’)

Table of contents – future with ‘to be about to’

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Use of the future with ‘to be about to’
  2. Formation of the future with ‘to be about to’
  3. Further explanations and exercises

When is the future with ‘to be about to’ used?

In English grammar, the construction to be about to is used to express an imminent event. Such a happening means precisely that one is going to do something in the next seconds or minutes (or when not related to persons: something is going to happen). Although this construction is grammatically an expression in the present tense – as ‘to be’ is written (conjugated) in the present simple here – it expresses the near future. Compare the following examples of use:

  • Occurrences of ‘be about to’ in statements for events that are just about to happen:
    • “Hurry up! The train is about to leave.”
    • “Can we do that tomorrow? I’m just about to go home.”
      • In this case, the adverb ‘just’ is additionally employed for emphasis.
    • “Look at the horses! They are about to jump over the fence.”
  • Information: As an alternative to this idiomatic phrase, the expression ‘to be on the point of’ can be utilised.

How is the future with ‘to be about to’ formed?

The expression ‘be about to’ is formed by conjugating the auxiliary verb ‘to be(am, are, is) and adding ‘about to’. Then, both parts are combined with the infinitive (base form) of the corresponding verb. So, note the following:

Rule for constructing the future with ‘to be about to

Conjugated form of ‘to be’ + ‘about to’ + infinitive (base form of the verb)

Additional example sentences

  • “I am about to eat this hamburger.”
    • 1st person singular
  • “He is about to ask a difficult question.”
    • 3rd person singular
  • “We are about to play football.”
    • 1st person plural

Further explanations related to the topic ‘to be about to’

The following explanations relate to the topic ‘Future with ‘to be about to’ (expressing the immediate future) in English’ and might be interesting as well: