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How to talk about future situations

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Future Real Conditional

The future real conditional describes what the speaker will do in a specific situation in the future. Although we do not know what will happen in the future the future real conditional is called 'real' because it refers to a possible action that could occur.

Lesson by Tristan, teacher at EC Malta English school


If I go to the party, I'll ask Sarah to come with me.
(I'm not sure if I will go or not)

When I have a few days off, I'll go to Rome for a second time.
(I have to wait for some days off)

I'm going to read if there is nothing to watch on TV.
(Reading depends on the programmes on TV)

From the examples we can see that the future real conditional is formed with:
If/When ...Present Simple..., ... will + base form/going to/present continuous (i.e. a tense that expresses future)
... will + base form/going to/present continuous ... if/when ...Present Simple...,
It's important to remember that there is no 'will' with the if clause.


Both 'if' and 'when' are used in the future real conditional but the is different from other real conditional forms. In the future real conditional 'if' suggests that the speaker does not know if something will happen or not. 'When' suggests that something will happen at some point in the future but the speaker is simply waiting for it to do so.

When he phones, I'll tell him about the good news. (I know he'll call)

If he phones, I'll tell him about the good news. (He might not call)

Now complete the following using the correct form:

  • 1. I’m not sure what I will do when I _.

  • 2. If my workload _ to increase like this, I’ll never be able to go abroad on holiday.

  • 3. When I meet Peter, He _ me what happened between him and Sarah. I won’t give him a choice.

  • 4. If you want the address, call me and I _ it to you.

  • 5. If Danny _ to the meeting, I’m not sure Mark will be very happy.

  • 6. If the weather _, I’m sure we will spend the whole day on the beach tomorrow.

  • 7. When the film is released, I _ straight to the cinema. There is no way I’m going t o miss it.