Grammar Lesson: Future Simple

There are two grammatical forms to express the Future Simple when using English: Will and Be + going to. Despite their similar nature, each of these forms can be used to express different meanings or intentions.

Will used to express a promise.

More often than not, we make promises. Whether we keep these promises is a story altogether. Either way, the language used to make promies usually takes the form of Will + Base Verb. Note that we usually contract the form of I Will to I’ll This is used for all personal pronouns. i.e You’ll, He’ll, We’ll.

I’ll always love you.
Don’t worry, I’ll wear my helmet.
I’ll call you when I arrive in Washington.
Next season, we’ll watch the San Francisco 49ers, I promise.

Will used to express voluntary actions or behavior

Take a look at the following sentences:

Speaker 1: I’m starving!
Speaker 2: Not to worry. I’ll make you a sandwich.

Speaker 1: The trash can is full.
Speaker 2: No problem. I’ll take it outside.

In both situations, we see Speaker 2 resolve a minor problem or complaint by actively volunteering to do something. Once again, the grammar remains the same: Subject + Will + Base Verb + Object. When using this formula, for both making promises and voluntary behavior, remember that it is also possible to use the negative form of ‘Will’- Won’t. This allows us to express things in the near future we ‘will not’ do.

I won’t do anything dangerous when I visit New Zealand. (Promise)
I most certainly won’t do the dishes after supper. It’s your turn. (Voluntary Behavior)

Be + going to or Will used to express a prediction.

For guesses about the future, it is appropriate to use both Will or Be + going to + Base Verb.

Tom Cruise is going to win an Oscar this year I’m sure.
I’m confident that Newcastle United will win the game tonight.
Barrack Obama will still be President in 2014.
He’s so intelligent. He’s going to get straight ‘A’s this semester.

Be + going to to express a future plan.

Most people tend to make plans for the near future and choose to express these plans as things they are going to do. Of course, some people’s plans might not go as expected, whilst other plans may be completely unrealistic. Either way, these arrangements are more fluently expressed through Be + going to rather than Will. A straightforward rule to construct this form is as follows:

Subject + ‘To Be’ (Aux.) + ‘Going to’ + Base Verb + Object + Reference of Time/Person/Place

I am going to learn English in San Francisco

I’m going to visit Henry in hospital.
Together, we’re going to climb Mount Everest.
I’m going to cook dinner for all of my classmates.
He’s going to play the piano tonight in front of a large audience.

*Similar to Will, auxilary verbs of ‘to be’ may be contracted with the appropriate personal pronoun: ‘He is’ = He’s, ‘We are’ = We’re etc.