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I will learn the future tense.
Now the above statement is saying what you are about to do, which is learning the future tense. Do you know this particular tense right now? In regular usage, maybe; but do you know what it exactly is and how you can refer to it in different ways? Well, if you don’t, you’re about to learn it right now.
To get an overview of this article, I will now list out the different ways in which future tense can be referred to and then we will go by them one by one.
- Simple Future Tense
- Future Continuous Tense
- Future Perfect Tense
- Future Perfect Continuous Tense
There are some other ways of reference, which we will learn towards the end. But for now, let’s focus on these basic future verb tenses.
So what is a future tense? Simply put, it is a way of referring to the future. It is a way of referring to an action or event which has not yet occurred, but will occur. It was a way of referring to coming time, but it is also more than that as you will find out soon.
Simple Future Tense
Now let’s go back to the first sentence. “I will learn the future tense”. Sentences like these, which are formed by the combination of a subject (I, we, they, he, she), the word ‘will (not)’ and an infinitive of a verb (here, it is learn) are said to be in Simple Future Tense. Now the order of this combination may change, but the basic concept doesn’t. For example,
I will pass out the papers now.
Will you take out the garbage for me?
And then there’s the negative sentences constructed in simple future. For example,
I won’t entertain another second of your idea!
I will not consider taking the day off!
We also use the word ‘shall’ in place of ‘will’ in some cases. Traditionally, ‘shall’ was used in accordance with first person (I/We) and ‘will’ was used with second and third persons (he, she, and they). But this way is generally disregarded in the modern context. ‘Will’ is used interchangeably with ‘shall’ in most cases. But there are still cases where shall is used as seen in the following examples:
Shall I clean out the garage?
What shall we tell the mistress about the broken plates?
As you can see, ‘shall’ is used usually when there is a suggestion to make for, or an advice to ask of.
Future Continuous Tense
I will be learning the future tense soon.
In the above sentence, you are again speaking of learning the future tense but in a different way. There is an addition of the word ‘be’ and an addition of the ending ‘-ing’ to the verb in question. This is the Future Continuous Tense.
The breakdown of this tense is in this way: adding ‘-ing’ to the verb, puts the action in question in a continuing state. Writing, texting, seeing, all suggest an action which is in progress. Now by adding the future tense of the verb, ‘to be’, which is ‘will (not) be/shall (not) be’, you are making the sentence a future continuous one. You can learn more through the examples below:
I will be having my dinner shortly.
I will be driving the car to the next town this afternoon.
I shall be sleeping in my room all day today.
I won’t be taking a day off any time soon.
Won’t they be missing the delicious dinner I made if they leave now?
The main part here in this tense is the ‘will be/ shall be’ and the ‘-ing’ ending verb which follows it.
Future Perfect Tense
I will have finished learning the future tense in 10 more minutes.
As the name says, it is a future ‘perfect’ tense; meaning that you are speaking of a time in the future where you will have done the part you speak of in the sentence. Confusing?
Consider the same sentence as above. You will be done with learning the future tense in 10 more minutes. But you are not done with it yet; and you don’t know if you will really complete it in 10 more minutes. But you assume you do, and you indicate that the action is completed in the near future, in the sentence. In short, you are speaking of the action in the future, as if it’s in the past. This is the Future Perfect Tense.
You will be more comfortable once you see a few more examples. But for now, let’s focus on the syntax.
It is formed using the simple future of the verb, ‘to have’, i.e., will (not) have and the past participle of the verb in question. In the above sentence, ‘will have’ + ‘finished’ (in the past participle of its form) are used. Some more examples,
I will have boarded the plane by the time you reached the airport.
I won’t have purchased this crib in a normal time.
Won’t you have finished your dinner by 8.00?
In the time you eat the French fry, I will have eaten two burgers.
They will have finished their presentation by the time you reach the office.
Future Perfect Continuous Tense
I will have been practicing the future tense for twenty minutes by eight o’ clock.
As you may have guessed from the name, the Future Perfect Continuous Tense is indeed a combination of the Future Perfect Tense and the Future Continuous Tense.
It is formed from the future perfect of the verb ‘to be’, which is ‘will (not) have been’ and the present participle of the verb in question (verb + -ing). This is the Future Perfect Continuous Tense and it speaks of an ongoing action which will be completed at some point in the future.
If it passes seven o’ clock, my son will have been sleeping for nine straight hours.
I will have been working as a clerk for five years now, if it passes 2017.
You will not have been listening to this song, if you understood its meaning.
Will we have been living together for seven years at this point?
The end of November; they will have been enjoying since the last month.
Now we have covered the 4 future verb tenses. But there are more ways in which to speak of the future. We will see them with two examples each.
Using the present continuous:
I’m leaving for the office shortly.
They are not staying for long.
Using the simple present:
He leaves for the office shortly.
He has a meeting this afternoon.
Using the word ‘going’:
I am going to buy this dress.
He is not going to go to his office in this rain.
The plane is about to depart.
I was just about to call you.
There are also some more ways which are too general to be categorized but still refer to the future like,
Are you to go by bus?
You are not to go to your his house this late.
Future tense has this broad a usage style. The best way to perfect this tense, as is with any other task, is to just practice repeatedly, over and over, thinking of actions or events in the future and just trying to get them off in sentence format, and in the different styles you spent the last twenty minutes learning.