Future simple (will-future)

(How to express the future in English with ‘will’)

Table of contents – future simple

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Use of the future simple
  2. Conjugation rule
  3. Further explanations and exercises

When is the future simple with ‘will’ used?

As the name already suggests, the future simple generally expresses the future tense in English. This means that it always refers to events that have not happened yet and will happen some time in the future. There are more ways to express the future in English, but the future simple occurs in the following specific cases:

  1. The future simple is generally used for future events that cannot be influenced directly:
    • “The flights to the USA will be very expensive over Christmas time.”
    • “The sun will shine again tomorrow.”
  2. It is also a typical means to express spontaneous decisions that are made while speaking:
    • “The phone is ringing. – I’ll pick it up.”
    • “What would you like to eat? – I’ll have the sandwich.”
  3. will’ can also be used to make assumptions about the future. If this is the case, verbs and adverbs that express certainty or uncertainty are often used. Examples for such verbs are ‘think’ or ‘believe’; and example adverbs of this kind would be ‘maybe, perhaps, possibly, probably, definitely’ (to know more take a look at adverbs of probability):
    • “He will probably arrive late tomorrow.”
    • “I think the weather will be nice on Sunday.”

Information: It is not uncommon in formal and written British English to use ‘shall’ instead of ‘will’ when someone is speaking in the first person singular or plural. However, both are usually shortened to ‘’ll’ and cannot be distinguished anymore. Compare:

  • Example: “We shall go now, it’s getting late.”
  • With the short form ‘’ll’: “We’ll go now, it’s getting late.”

What is the rule for forming the future simple with ‘will’?

The procedure of forming the future simple with ‘will’ is relatively straightforward as it remains unchanged in all grammatical persons (first, second, and third → which means ‘I, you, they, he, she, it, we’) as well as in singular and plural. It consists of the modal auxiliary verb ‘will’ and the infinitive (base form) of the corresponding main verb. In simple terms, it is therefore often called will-future. Compare the formation in detail:

Conjugation rule for the future simple with ‘will

Auxiliary verb ‘will’ + infinitive (base form of the corresponding verb)

Conjugation table of ‘will’ (short forms are also possible)

Example verbs: ‘to do, to drink, to look

Person Regular form Short form Infinitive
I will I’ll do
he/she/it will he’ll / she’ll / it’ll drink
we/you/they will we’ll / you’ll / they’ll look

Specialities

Although the conjugation is simple to accomplish, you have to pay attention that ‘will not’ converts to ‘won’t’ when it is shortened:

  • “I think it won’t rain today.”
  • “He won’t help you unless you ask him.”

Further explanations relating to the topic ‘Future simple’

The following explanations are related to the topic ‘Future simple (will-future)’ and could be interesting for you, too:

  • Formation and verb forms of the future simple
  • Use of the future continuous
  • Use of the future simple with ‘going to’
  • Verbs in the English grammar
  • Modal verbs in the English grammar
  • Auxiliary verbs in the English grammar
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