Future. Meaning and Form

Seminar Paper, 2008

18 Pages, Grade: 2,1


Index of Contents


I. Theoretical Part
A. Preface
B. Will/Shall Future
C. Going to Future
D. Present Continuous
E. Comparison of Structure
F. Present Simple with Future Reference
G. Future Perfect
H. Future Continuous
I. Adverbial Time Clauses
J. Idiomatic Expressions
K. Future in the Past
L. Auxiliaries
M. Verb Patterns which express Future

II. Practical Part
A. Will and be going to
B. Present Simple and Present Continuous for the Future
C. Future Continuous and Future Perfect (Continuous)
D. Weather Forecast
E. Newspaper Article

III. Conclusion.

IV. Bibliography


This Proseminar paper is about “Future – Meaning and Form”, following the presentation held in the Awareness III. course in winter term 2007/08. In order to analyse the different forms and meanings of the various future concepts, there are several English Grammar books providing useful theoretical information.

The first part of the paper serves as a theoretical overview. In this section the different future concepts are analysed and the meaning of the different tenses is dissected. The second part consists of the practical part. It illustrates where and why the different future concepts are used in different examples. It also shows how the rules in the theoretical part apply to the practical examples like dialogues and full texts.

I. Theoretical Part

A. Preface

In English, like in all Germanic languages, there is no simple future tense. The futurity of an action is expressed either by using a word which expresses a future action, e.g. I drive to London in two days, or by utilising an auxiliary construction that combines a definite present tense verb with the stem of this verb which illustrates the actual action of the sentence.

The English future tense was established during the period of 300 years, between 1066 and 1350. During that time, Anglo-Norman was the official language of the British Isles. Unlike English, Norman is a Romance Language, which does have a simple future tense.

In the course of the study of the English future concepts, one has to make a difference between spoken and written language. As spoken language is used more often than written language, the used future tense differs.

This abstract is based on the internet article from


on December 22nd, 2007

B. Will/Shall Future

Will/Shall is used to ask or give information in cases where there is no reason to use a present verb-form. It is also used to predict the future when we want to say what we guess, think or calculate will happen. The will/shall future is formed with will/shall and simple verb form.

Will is more commonly used in modern British English, but will and shall are used with no difference. They are interchangeable. (Downing – Locke 359)

Will/shall is used in spontaneous decisions announced at the time of making them without a previous plan. (Hewings 18) e.g. I’m starving. I will eat a sandwich.

➔ I feel hungry and at the same moment I make the announcement that I will eat something.

The will/shall future is also used when you are expressing your own opinion about the future happenings and for forecasts. (18)

e.g. Tomorrow will be dry, some clouds in the afternoon.

➔ The weather forecast has some evidence for it, but it is not absolutely clear that the weather will be dry.

It is utilised in formal announcements like newspaper articles or formal pieces of writing. (18) e.g. President Bush will give a speech in New York next week.

➔ Bush has announced to hold a speech and as it is written in a newspaper article, the will future is used.

C.Going to Future

Present verb-forms are often used to talk about the future. We commonly use going to if we talk about decisions, plans or firm intentions, especially in an informal style. Be is put into the correct verb form to agree with the subject, followed by going to and the simple verb form. (18)

The going to future is used for plans or intentions. It is announced after it has been decided if no active steps were taken. (18) e.g. I am going to apply for university next week.

➔ I have already decided to apply but did not fill in the application form.

It is also utilised if predictions are based on evidence, so one has to interpret concrete signs. (18) e.g. Look at the yellowish sky! It is going to hail.

➔ I can see that the sky is yellowish. The logical consequence is that it is going to hail.

D. Present Continuous

The Present Continuous, or Present Progressive, is used when we want to talk about future fixed plans or personal arrangements. The time, date and/or place is often given. It is formed with be in the correct verb form to agree with the verb and the simple verb form with –ing at the end. (20)

For future arrangements, which are more than just a plan, the Present Continuous is used. Something has been already arranged.

e.g. I am meeting the manager of Liebherr Africa tomorrow.

➔ I have arranged the meeting some time ago.

The Present Continuous is also used for actions which are just starting.

e.g. I am quitting my job next week.

➔ I have already told my boss that I am quitting the job next week.

E.Comparison of Structure

To talk about the same future event we can often use more than one structure to talk about it. Present forms emphasise present ideas like plans, certainty and intention. When we are not emphasising present ideas we prefer will/shall. (Hewings 18; Swan – Walter 135) e.g. Next week is going to be different. Mum promised it.

➔ This is a present intention.

e.g. Next week will be different.

➔ It could also stay the same.

If future events have some present reality, present forms are used.

e.g. I am meeting my aunt next week

➔ There is an arrangement.

e.g. I wonder if he will recognise me.

➔ This is no present idea.

F. Present Simple with Future Reference

The Present Simple is sometimes used to talk about the future, mostly when we talk about schedules, routines and timetables. It is constructed with the simple verb form. In the third case, i.e. he/she/it, –s is put at the end of the verb. (20)

The present simple is used for definite schedules or timetables. These are facts which are true to everyone. (20)

e.g. The plane to London leaves at 2:30 p.m.

➔ It is a definite schedule and it is true to everyone.

This time concept is also used after time conjunctions. (20) e.g. I will get back to you when Cathy arrives.

➔ As when is a time conjunction, the following verb is in present simple.

In other cases the present simple is not used in main clauses to talk about the future. (20) e.g. Anna is coming for a drink next evening.

➔ NOT Anna comes for a drink next evening. This is not true to everyone.


Excerpt out of 18 pages


Future. Meaning and Form
University of Innsbruck
Language Awareness 3
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Future, Meaning, Form, Language, Awareness
Quote paper
Regina Seiwald (Author), 2008, Future. Meaning and Form, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/89562


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