Lesson 15
Future Tenses

    An advanced student knows what kind of future structure he has to use in every context.

    Future tenses

    Theoretically, intermediate students should know all the future tenses, but there are many important details unknown to most English learners. We’ll review them in this lesson.

      The different ways to express the future

  • 1. Present Continuous and “Going to”.

  • I’ll repeat what I said in Lesson 7.

    a)  Present continuous structure + future reference
    Example: She is having lunch with her sister tomorrow (future reference).

    Use: Very planned future, usually for specific, personal events in the near future. For example, I have written down all the details, place and hour of my appointment on my calendar.

    Example “Present Continuous + future reference” audiobook Chapter 4: She is playing Juliet tomorrow.

    b) Subject+ going to + v. infinitive
    Example: She is going to have lunch with her sister tomorrow.

    Use: Planned future, but not as planned as the “present continuous” described in point 1 above.

    Example “Present Continuous with going to” audiobook chapter 4:  I am going to tell you Harry.



    Spanish equivalent tenses:

    The Present continuous is often translated into Spanish as the “Presente Simple” with a future reference.

    For example:

    • I’m having dinner with my brother tomorrow evening. Ceno con mi hermano mañana por la noche.

    The formula “going to + v. infinitive” is often translated as “Voy/vas/va/vamos/van a + verbo en infinitivo”.


  • She is going to go to Paris on Monday.  Va a ir a París el lunes.

  • 2. Will


    “Will” is a modal verb that expresses the future when:

    - We talk about a future event

    • They will start working with us on Monday. Empezarán a trabajar con nosotros el lunes.

    What is the difference between “will” and the Present Continuous and the “going to” formula?

    Basically, the future with “will” is NOT as planned as when you use the present continuous or the “going to” formula. It is also used to make general statements about future facts.

    We make a prediction based on our opinions
    • I think it will rain. Creo que lloverá.

    We make an instant decision
    • I have just seen a pair of shoes in a shop and I say: I’ll buy them- Los compraré

  • When “will” doesn’t express future

    There are situations in which “will” doesn’t express future.

    For example:

    - “Will” can be used to make a request, invitation or order


    • Will you close the door please?  ¿Puedes cerrar la puerta por favor?- Request
    • Will you join us? ¿Viene con nosotros? Invitation
    • Will you please shut up? ¿Te callas? Order

  • Will can be use to express a habit or behaviour that is sometimes annoying.

  • Examples

    • My cat will always lie on that cushion. Mi gato siempre se tumba en ese cojín. (Habit)
    • She won’t stop talking. Ella no para de hablar. (Annoying behaviour)


    Structure of sentences with will:

    • Affirmative: Subject + will+ verb+ object. Example: I will study at the library tomorrow.
    • Negative: Subject + will+ not  (won’t) + verb+ object. Example: They won’t do anything until Monday.
    • Question:  Will+ subject + verb+ object?  Will you come to our party?
    • Negative question:  Won’t+ subject + verb+ object? Example:  Won’t you join us tomorrow?
    • Answers: Yes, + subject + will- No, +subject + won’t. Examples:  Yes, I will- No, I won’t.




    The contraction of will is “ll.  Notice this is the same contraction we use with “shall”.

    Contraction Phonetics Approximate pronunciation



















    Won’t (negative)



    Spanish equivalent tenses

    When in English we use “will” to talk about future events, make a prediction or an instant decision, we use “futuro simple”.  


    • Come con mi hermana el sábado- I’ll have lunch with my sister on Saturday (future event)
    • Creo que llove. I think it will rain (prediction)
    • Me compra esos zapatos. I’ll buy those shoes (instant decision)

    If “will” is used in English to express a request, order, invitation, offer, habit or behaviour, we usually use the present tense.


    • ¿Cierras la puerta por favor? Will you close the door please? Request
    • ¿Vienes a nuestra fiesta? Will you come to our party? Invitation
    • Él siempre duerme la siesta después de la comida? He will always take a nap after lunch. Habit


  • 3. Shall

  • “Shall” is also used to express the future but not as often as “will”.

    It’s more commonly used with “I” and “they”.


    • They shall do it. Ellos lo harán.
    • I shall cook. Yo cocinaré.
  • “Shall” is extensively used in contracts and other formal or legal documents to express obligations. This is not so with “will” which denotes future in legal language.


  • The parties shall be jointly and severely liable. Las partes serán solidariamente responsables.

  • “Shall” is also used to make suggestions or invitations, promises or predictions.


    • Shall we have a coffee? ¿Nos tomamos un café? Invitation
    • I shall do what you told me to do. Haré lo que me dijiste. Promise
    • They shall overcome all the obstacles. Superarán todos los obstáculos. Prediction

    Structure: See “will” above. Replace “will” by “shall” as it is the same structure.

    Spanish equivalent tense

    “Shall” is often translated as “Futuro simple”, when talking about future, obligations, promises or predictions.  But when “shall” is used to make a suggestion or an invitation, in Spanish the “Presente simple” is used. Example: Shall we dance? ¿Bailamos?



    4. The Simple Present Tense

    The Simple Present Tense is only used to refer to the future in very few occasions.  

    Due to the fact that in Spanish the Simple Present Tense is very often used to talk about the future, you should be very careful when attempting to use the Simple Present Tense in English to express the future.

    You can ONLY use the Simple Present Tense to talk about official timetables that were planned and imposed to you by someone else such as airlines or theatres.

    Let’s see some examples:

    Your timetable

    • Mr Deck travels to Paris tomorrow-  El Sr. Deck viaja a París mañana.

    Train, airports

    • The train arrives at 5 o’clock. El tren llega a las 5.

    Shows or events

    • The show starts at 8 o’clock. El show empieza a las 8.

    I often see intermediate students writing emails mistakenly using the Present Tense instead of using a future tense.

    For example:

    “Hello, I send you my homework,” INCORRECT

    It should be -> I’m sending you my homework. CORRECT

    If you say or write, “I send you my homework”, you’re referring to an habitual action, that is to say something that you always or sometimes do.

    For example: I send you my homework every Friday.

    Can you see the difference?

    Remember that an advanced student doesn’t make this kind of mistakes.

    Spanish equivalent tense

    In this case there is almost a total coincidence. When we use the Simple Present Tense in English to speak about the future we use el Presente Simple in Spanish.


    -Mr. Smith flies to Rome tomorrow.  El Sr. Smith vuela a Roma mañana



     5. Future perfect

    The future perfect is used to talk about actions that will happen in the future before another action.

    For example:

    • By the time you arrive (will happen after) home I will have finished (will happen before) my homework. Para cuando llegues a casa, yo habré terminado mis deberes.
    • Will they have painted the house by Saturday? ¿Habrán pintado la casa para el sábado?
    • Will you have mowed the lawn by the time we get there? ¿Habrás cortado el césped para cuando lleguemos allí?

    The future perfect can be made with will + have + pp of the main verb and “going to”  + have + pp of the main verb, with little or no difference in meaning.


    • Will you have painted the house by Saturday?
    • Are you going to have the house painted by Saturday?


    • Affirmative: Subject + will+ have + pp of the main verb+ object. Example: I will have read the newspaper by the time you arrive to the office.
    • Negative: Subject + will+ not  (won’t) + have + pp of the main verb+ object. Example: They won’t have finished their work by Friday.
    • Question:  Will+ subject + have + pp of the main verb+ object?  Will you have cleaned the kitchen by the time we are home?
    • Negative question:  Won’t+ subject + have+ pp. of the main verb+ object? Example:  Won’t you have finished your project next month?
    • Answers: Yes, + subject + will + have- No, +subject + won’t +have. Examples:  Yes, I will have- No, I won’t have.

    Spanish equivalent tense

    In Spanish the “futuro perfecto” (habré/habrá/habrás + verbo pricipal in participio pasado) is used to speak about actions that happen before another action in the future.


    • Ellos habrán llegado a París para cuando él les llame. They will have arrived in Paris by the time he calls them.


    6. The future in the past

    The “future in the past” is used when we talk in the past about actions that we thought were going to happen in the future .

    The future in the past can be expressed with two similar structures:

    • Subject + was/were + going to + main verb in infinitive + object.
    • Subject + would + main verb + object

    Before this structure, we will often find the simple past tense.

    For example:

    Henry thought that I was going to call him after the meeting and so he says, after I called him:

    • I knew (past tense) you were going to call (future in the past) me.  Sabía que me ibas a llamar.
    • I knew (past tense) you would call  (future in the past) me. Sabía que me llamarías

    What is the difference between the was/were + going to and would structure?

    Normally, we use the structure “was/were + going to” when we want to talk about actions that were planned or when we want to make a prediction.

    We use the would structure when we are talking about unplanned future events. Sometimes, however, these structures are interchangeable with little difference in meaning.


    • They agreed they were going to go out. Ellos acordaron que iban a salir. Planned
    • I knew she was going to show up-  Sabía que ella se iba a presentar. Prediction
    • I thought she would help-  Pensé que ella ayudaría. Unplanned future event

    Structure with was/were + going to:

    • Affirmative:  Subject + verb in the past tense + subject + was/were + going to+ main verb in infinitive+ object.  Note: The subject and the verb in the simple past tense can go at the beginning or at the end of the sentence.

    Example: He was going to do it, but he didn’t do it. Él iba a hacerlo, pero no lo hizo.

    • Negative: Subject + verb in the past tense + subject +was/were+ not + going to + main verb in infinitive+ object.

    Example: I thought he was not goingto stick to his word. Pensé que iba a cumplir con su palabra.

    • Question:  Question in the simple past tense + subject +was/were+ going to + main verb in infinitive+ object?  

    Example: Did you think he was going to come?  ¿Pensaste que él iba a venir?

    • Negative question:  Negative question in the simple past tense + subject + was/were + going to + main verb in infinitive?

    Example: Didn’t you know (that) we were going to go out? ¿No sabías que íbamos a salir?

    • Answers: Yes, + subject + did- No, +subject + didn’t. Examples:  Yes, I did - No, I didn’t.


    Structure with would:

    • Affirmative:  Subject + verb in the past tense + subject + would +  main verb in infinitive+ object
    Example: I knew he would work with us. Yo sabía que él trabajaría con nosotros.
    • Negative: Subject + verb in the past tense + subject +would + not + main verb in infinitive+ object.

    Example: I thought they wouldn’t come. Yo pensé que él no vendría.

    • Question: Did+ subject + main verb in infinitive + would + verb in infinitive +object?  

     Example: Did you think he would come? ¿Pensaste que él vendría?

    • Negative question: Didn’t+ subject + main verb in infinitive  + would + verb in infinitive +object?  

    Example: Didn’t you know that we would go out? ¿No sabías que saldríamos?

    • Answers: Yes, + subject + did- No, +subject + didn’t  

    Examples: Yes, I  did - No, I didn’t.

    Spanish equivalent tense

    The future in the past is expressed in Spanish with: Sujeto + iba/ibas/iba….+ a + verbo en infinitivo.


    • Te dije (verbo en pasado simple) que te íbamos a invitar. I told you we were going to invite you.



    In the case of “would”, the future in the past is expressed with a conditional.


    • Sabía que lo haría (conditional). I knew he would do it





    Mastering the future tenses

    We will now focus our attention on learning sentences using future tenses.

    I have listed sentences in this tense below that can be found in chapters 1 to 4 of the audiobook.

    Please, listen to them and repeat them aloud.

    Spanish English Phonetics Approximate Pronunciation

    Nunca enviaré esto a ninguna parte

    I will never send this anywhere (Chap. 1)

    ˈaɪ wl̩ ˈnevə send ðɪs ˈeniweə |

    Ai wuil  send dis éniwuer

    Sé que se va a reir

    I know you are going to laugh (Chap. 1)

    ˈaɪ nəʊ ju ə ˈɡəʊɪŋ tə lɑːf

    Ai nóu iu ar góing tu laf

    Se lo voy a decir

    I’m going to tell you (Chap. 1)

    aɪm ˈɡəʊɪŋ tə tel ju

    Aim góing tu tel iu

    Yo también saldré al jardín

    I will also go out to the garden (Chap. 2)

    ˈaɪ wl̩ ˈɔːlsəʊ ɡəʊ aʊt tə ðə ˈɡɑːdn̩

    Ai wuil ólso góu áut tu de gárden

    Me reuniré con ustedes más tarde

    I will meet you both later (Chap. 2)

    ˈaɪ wl̩ miːt ju bəʊθ ˈleɪtə

    Ai wuil mit iu bóuz léiter

    Va a ser mi obra maestra

    It’s going to be my masterpiece (Chap. 2)

    ɪts ˈɡəʊɪŋ tə bi maɪ ˈmɑːstəpiːs

    Its góing tu bi mai másterpis

    Algún día será viejo y feo y tendrá arrugas

    One day you will be old and ugly and you’ll have wrinkles (Chap 2)

    wʌn deɪ ju wl̩ bi əʊld ənd ˈʌɡli ənd jul həv ˈrɪŋkl̩z

    Wuan déi iu wuil bi óuld and ágli and iul hav rínkols

    No será siempre así

    It won’t always be like that (Chap 2)

    ɪt wəʊnt ˈɔːlweɪz bi ˈlaɪk ðət

    It wuónt ólwueiss bi láik dát

    Me haré viejo, horrible, espantoso

    I will become old, horrible, hideous (Chap. 2)

    ˈaɪ wl̩ bɪˈkʌm əʊld | ˈhɒrəbl̩ɒrəbhɪdɪəs

    Ai wuil bíkom ould, hóribol, hídios

    Pero este cuadro siempre será joven

    But this picture will always be young (Chap. 2)

    bət ðɪs ˈpɪktʃə wl̩ ˈɔːlweɪz bi jʌŋ

    Bat dis píkcher wuil ólwueis bi íang

    Odio este retrato y lo voy a destruir

    I hate this portrait and I’m going to destroy it (Chap. 2)

    ˈaɪ heɪt ðɪs ˈpɔːtrɪt ənd aɪm ˈɡəʊɪŋ tə dɪˈstroɪ ɪt

    Ai héit dis pórtreit and áim góing tu di’stroit

    Tan pronto como esté seco, lo enviaré a su casa

    As soon as it’s dry, I will send it to your house (Chap 2)

    əz suːn əz ɪts draɪ | ˈaɪ wl̩ send ɪt tə jə ˈhaʊs

    Ass sun ass its drái ai wuil sendit tu ior háus

    Bien; en ese caso iremos usted y yo solos,  señor Gray

    Well, in that case, you and I will go alone, Mr. Gray (Chap 2)

    wel | ɪn ðət keɪs | ju ənd ˈaɪ wl̩ ɡəʊ əˈləʊn | ˈmɪstə | ɡreɪ

    Wuel in dat kéis iu andai wuil góu a’loun míster gréi

    Me quedaré con el verdadero Dorian- dijo tristemente

    I will stay with the real Dorian, he said sadly (Chap. 2)

    ˈaɪ wl̩ steɪ wɪð ðə rɪəl ˈdɔːiən | hi ˈsed ˈsædli

    Ai wuil sstéi wuiz de rial dórian, hi séd sádli

    Él lo habrá heredado

    He will have inherited it (Chap. 3)

    hi wl̩ həv ɪnˈherɪtɪd ɪt

    Hi wuil hav inhéritit

    ¿Dónde comes hoy Harry?

    Where are you eating today, Harry? (Chap. 3)

    weər ə ju ˈiːtɪŋ təˈdeɪ | ˈhæri |

    Wuér ar iu íting tu’dei hári?

    También estará el Sr. Gray

    Mr. Gray will also be there (Chap. 3)

    ˈmɪstə | ɡreɪ wl̩ ˈɔːlsəʊ bi ðə

    Míster gréi wuil ólso bí der

    Lo haré

    I will do it (Chap. 3)

    ˈaɪ wl̩ də ɪt

    Ai wuil duit

    Voy al parque

    I’m going to the park (Chap. 3)

    aɪm ˈɡəʊɪŋ tə ðə pɑːk

    Aim góing tu de párk

    ¿Me promete que hablará todo el tiempo?

    Do you promise you will talk the whole time? (Chap. 3)

    də ju ˈprɒmɪs ju wl̩ ˈtɔːk ðə həʊl ˈtaɪm |

    Du iú prómis iu wuil tok de hól táim?

    Se lo voy a contar, Harry

    I am going to tell you Harry (Chap. 4)

    ˈaɪ əm ˈɡəʊɪŋ tə tel ju ˈhæri

    Ai am góing tu tel iu hári

    Se va a reír de mí.

    You are going to laugh at me (Chap. 4)

    ju ə ˈɡəʊɪŋ tə lɑːf ət miː

    Iu ar góing tu laf at me

    ¿Al menos habrá hablado con ella?

    At least you will have talked to her? (Chap. 4)

    ət liːst ju wl̩ həv ˈtɔːkt tə hə

    At list iu wuil have tókt tu her?

    Voy a verla actuar todas las noches.

    I’m going to see her act every night (Chap. 4)

    aɪm ˈɡəʊɪŋ tə ˈsiː hə ækt ˈevri naɪt

    Ai am going tu si her akt évri náit

    Bien, ¿qué noche iremos?

    “Good, which night shall we go? (Chap. 4)

    | ɡʊd wɪtʃ naɪt ʃə wi ɡəʊ |

    Gúd wuich náit shál wuí góu?

    To sum up:

    There are many ways to express the future in English.

    These are some of the most common options:

    Present Continuous + future reference. Example: I’m leaving to Scotland tonight. Very planned action

    Going to +v. infinitive” . Example: I’m going to play football next week. Planned action

    Will. Example: I’ll go to the party. “Will” expresses future events, predictions and instant decisions, but it can also express requests, invitations, orders, offers and habits. Example: He won’t listen to me.



    Less frequent ways to express the future:

    Simple Present Tense. This is used when we refer to what we have in our calendar, timetables and shows. Example: The film starts at 5 o’clock
    Shall. This is used in the same way that will is used to express the future (predictions, future events) but is less frequent in spoken English. It is used to make invitations, suggestions. Example: Shall we go by bus?
    Future perfect. This is used to talk about actions that will happen in the future before another action. Example: By the time you get to the office, I will have finished the report.
    The future perfect can also be expressed with “going to” + have + pp. main verb. Example: By the time you get to the office, I am going to have finished the report.
    Future in the past. We talk about future in the past when we refer to a past action that had a future element. For example: I knew (past action) he was going to win (future element).  “Would” can also be used to say the same with a slight different meaning. I knew (past action) you would win.


    Continue looking for the future tenses from chapters 11 to 14.

    Try to ask and answer questions aloud using the sentences that you find in the future for example:

    • Will he have inherited it?
    • Yes, he will
    • No, he won’t

    Translate the following sentences

    The answers are found at the end. Once you have corrected any mistakes, say the sentences aloud. If you have doubts, always use www.fromtexttospeech.com or similar software.

    1. Para cuando ellos lleguen yo me habré marchado
    2. No habrá ningún problema
    3. Yo sabía que él no vendría
    4. ¿Cuando vendrás?
    5. ¿Te habrás leído todo el libro para cuando yo vuelva?
    6. Voy a París
    7. No sabemos cuándo él vendrá
    8. Él sabía que no me iba a gustar (cosa)
    9. Lloverá
    10. Me lo comparé


    1. By the time they arrive I will have left
    2. There won’t be any problem
    3. I knew he wouldn’t come
    4. When will you come?
    5. Will you have read the whole book by the time I come back?/Are you going to have read the whole book by the time I come back?
    6. I’m going to Paris
    7. We don’t know when he will come
    8. He knew I was not going to like it
    9. It will rain
    10. I will buy it