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Future Tense Expressed in the Present?

The future tense is most often expressed using two constructions, “going to” and “will”. For example, “I am going to go to a movie tonight,” or “I will visit my mother this weekend.”  Both structures express a future meaning.  There are some instances, however, when the present tense can also be used to express a future event.

Future tense using present: scheduled events

The present tense is used to express the future when talking about scheduled events. Here are a few examples:

  • I have a dentist appointment at 3:00 on Friday;
  • The plane takes off at 7:00 tonight;
  • My friend leaves on Friday.

Future tense using present: dependent clauses

Dependent clauses are a group of words that start with words such as “although, because, even though, before, when, and after” and are followed by a subject and verb. They must be joined to an “independent clause” or sentence. For example, “When the sun rises, I get up.” “When the sun rises” is the dependent clause. When both the independent and dependent clause in a sentence express a future event, the one in the dependent clause is expressed in the present tense. For example, “Before I go to the movies, I will clean my room.” Both going to the movies and cleaning the room will happen in the future; however, the present tense is used in the dependent clause, “before I go to the movies.”

Practice making the future tense using the present

Combine sentences using adverbials— before, when, after, although, even though, and because. Make sure you use these verbs in the future tense. For example, “before” + “walk” and “go to the store” could be written as, “Before I go for a walk, I will go to the store.” Alternatively, you could say, “Before I go for a walk, I am going to go to the store.”

  1. when + clean my house + visit my friends
  2. after + finish my homework + watch television
  3. before + go on vacation + work extra jobs
  4. although + buy a lot of food + be careful with my money
  5. because + be cold + wear a sweater

Look at your calendar for this coming month. Write sentences using the present tense to describe appointments that you have on your calendar for specific times. Remember to use the present tense. For example, “I see my dentist on Thursday at 3:00.”

Try some online practice exercises. A variety of resources are available online for practicing this way of expressing future tense. Here are some resources:

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