What is Simple Future Tense?
Simple future tense allows you to easily talk about things that will happen in the near or distant future. Simple future tense is the third tense that I typically teach my kids because it is a very easy tense to learn for children. The two forms of simple future tense build on the grammar we have already learned in present simple and present continuous, so having a strong basis in these tenses should help a lot.
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Simple Future Tense Definition
The simple future tense is used for things that will happen in the future. It can be two minutes from now or a millennia, as long as it is in the future. The simple future tense has two forms: “will” and “going to.” There are some small differences between these two versions, but generally, “will” gives off a sense of certainty. On the other hand, “going to” is generally used for guesses or predictions about the future. Now that you know about the two general forms of simple future tense, let’s look more closely at their forms and uses
1. “Will” is used to talk about:
An event in the future that you have just made a decision about
I have decided that I will go to college next year.
Facts about the future
He will be ten years old next year.
Things that you are sure will be true in the future
I will be a doctor when I finish college.
2. “Going to” is used to talk about:
Your intentions for the future
I am going to have a sandwich for lunch.
Predictions you have for the future
He is going to get married this summer.
In general, I would say the difference between these two sentences is confidence level. “Will” is a very confident-sounding sentence. You are definite about what the future will look like because it is a fact, or you are personally convinced of it. “Going to” is less confident, and so is used for predictions and intentions. Because it has to do with confidence, all of these sentences can use “will” or “going to” depending on the speaker.
There is also a difference in formality between these two sentences. “Will” can come off as more formal, while “going to” seems more casual and conversational.
Simple Future Tense Formula – Will
The simple future tense formula with “will” is easy to adapt when your child already knows present simple tense. I usually teach “will” sentences before “going to” sentences because they are easier for kids to understand. This is because “will” requires no conjugation, and at this point, they are probably more familiar with present simple than present continuous.
1. Simple Future Tense Formula (“Will” Positive)
Subject + will + verb
The simple future tense formula for “will” sentences is incredibly easy. We will essentially just be adding the helping verb “will” to make a present simple sentence into a future simple tense sentence. Super easy! Also, the verb “will” does not change regardless of the subject.
Simple Future Tense Examples (“Will” Positive)
I will run.
He will swim.
She will walk.
You will eat.
We will jump.
They will dance.
2. Simple Future Tense Formula (“Will” Negative)
Subject + will not / won’t + verb
It is harder to get easier than that. Now with negative, it is pretty much just as simple. We are just going to be adding ”not” or combining “will not” into “won’t”.
Simple Future Tense Examples (“Will” Negative)
I will not run. I won’t run.
He will not swim. He won’t swim.
She will not walk. She won’t walk.
You will not eat. You won’t eat.
We will not jump. We won’t jump.
They will not dance. They won’t dance.
“Will not” and “won’t” are the same thing and can be used interchangeably. “Will not” is usually more formal or definitive, and you are more likely to see this in formal writing. “Won’t” is more casual and is more common in spoken English.
3. Simple Future Tense Formula (“Will” Positive Question)
Will + Subject + Verb
When asking a question, we are going to invert the subject and the helping verb (will). This is a pretty common practice with English verb tenses, so emphasizing it now will help later on. Don’t forget that “will” is usually about a decision or about something you strongly believe will be true in the future. So, when using these questions, they will be used to ask about a decision or whether you believe something is true.
Simple Future Tense Examples (“Will” Positive Question)
Will I run?
Yes, I will run.
Will he swim?
No, he won’t swim.
Will she walk?
Yes, she will.
Will you eat?
No, I won’t.
Will we jump?
Yes, we will jump.
Will they dance?
No, they won’t dance.
4. Simple Future Tense Formula (“Will” Negative)
Won’t + Subject + Verb
This kind of negative question is very formal sounding and is rarely used in conversation. It may make some native English speakers think about Shakespeare or older English that they have had to study in high school. I do not recommend that you teach this to your child.
Simple Future Tense Examples (“Will” Negative)
Won’t I run?
Won’t he swim?
Won’t she walk?
Won’t you eat?
Won’t we jump?
Won’t they dance?
Simple Future Tense Formula – Going To
Like our “will” sentences, “going to” sentences shouldn’t be very difficult for your child to master. However, I would recommend that you teach your child “going to” sentences after you teach them present continuous. Children who have already learned present continuous should quickly be able to adapt what they know to use the future simple tense.
1. Simple Future Tense Formula (“Going to” Positive)
Subject + am/is/are + Going + Infinitive Verb
As we can see, the “going to” sentences follow the same pattern as present continuous. The only difference is the -ing verb will always be “going” and it will be followed by the infinitive version of the verb you wish to use.
Simple Future Tense Examples (“Going to” Positive)
I am going to run.
He is going to swim.
She is going to walk.
You are going to eat.
We are going to jump.
They are going to dance.
2. Simple Future Tense Formula (“Going to” Negative)
Subject + am/is/are + Not + Going + Infinitive verb
For negative sentences, the only tricky part is remembering exactly where the “not” will go. In negative sentences, “not” will go after the “is/am/are” but before “going”. With a bit of practice, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get used to.
Simple Future Tense Examples (“Going to” Negative)
I am not going to run.
He is not going to swim.
She is not going to walk.
You are not going to eat.
We are not going to jump.
They are not going to dance.
3. Simple Future Tense Formula (“Going to” Positive Question)
am/is/are + Subject + Going + Infinitive Verb
Like before, we are going to invert the helping verb and the subject to form a question. Remember “going to” is used for predictions, so these questions are asking for a guess about the future and not so much a definitive decision on it.
Simple Future Tense Examples (“Going to” Positive Question)
Am I going to run?
Yes, I am going to run.
Is he going to swim?
No, he is not going to swim.
Is she going to walk?
Yes, she is going to walk.
Are you going to eat?
No, I’m not going to eat.
Are we going to jump?
Yes, we are.
Are they going to dance?
No, they aren’t.
4. Simple Future Tense Formula (“Going to” Negative)
is/am/are + Subject + Not + Going + Infinitive Verb
“Going to” negative questions are far more common than “will” negative questions, but I would still advise against teaching them to beginners. A negative question using “going to” generally conveys a certain amount of judgment and negativity about someone not doing something. I would personally not teach this until later on.
Simple Future Tense Examples (“Going to” Negative)
Am I not going to run?
Is he not going to swim?
Is she not going to walk?
Are you not going to eat?
Are we not going to jump?
Are they not going to dance?
Simple Future Tense Examples – Adding Complexity
Now that we know how to make basic sentences, using simple future tense, let’s take a look at how we can add to it.
Time is usually going to go at the end of the sentence. It can be placed at the beginning in certain circumstances, but early learners should make a habit of placing it at the end.
I am going to work hard today.
Today, I am going to work hard.
You will go to school tomorrow.
Tomorrow, you will go to school.
Place will usually appear after your main verb, but before time.
He is going to play soccer at the park next week.
He will play soccer at the park next week.
Simple Future Tense Examples – More Complicated Sentences
Are you going to go to the dance this Friday night?
Yes, I am going to go to the dance this Friday night.
No, I am not going to go to the dance this Friday night.
Will the children play nicely in the park tomorrow?
Yes, the children will play nicely in the park tomorrow.
No, the children will not play nicely in the park tomorrow.
Is he going to practice his singing at home next week?
Yes, he is going to practice his singing at home next week.
No, he is not going to practice his singing at home next week.
Will you be a famous dancer in New York when you grow up?
Yes, I will be a famous dancer in New York when I grow up.
No, I won’t be a famous dancer in New York when I grow up.
Simple Future Tense Exercises
So, what simple future tense exercises can you do with your children?
I am going to split my exercises into two groups: initial learning and review. Initial learning exercises are intended to give your children as much exposure to the sentence pattern as possible. The intent of this is to really hammer in the sentence structure and the usage of the simple future tense.
Simple future tense exercises for review are to get your children reviewing what they already know. If they don’t use it, they will forget it, so building in occasional reminders can help them keep that knowledge fresh in their heads.
Simple Future Tense Exercises – Initial Learning
When teaching things for the first time, I find it really helps to break it up into small manageable chunks. Don’t teach “will” and “going to” at the same time. Start with positive sentences, then negative sentences, and then positive questions. Make sure they understand each part before moving on to the next. Do it in an orderly fashion and make your way through the content at your own pace.
Readers who have read a few of my articles probably could see this coming. Board games are a favorite of mine for teaching recently learned grammar and vocabulary. Take a look at the post I made specifically on how to use board games, and pick up the free board game I made for you to use with your children.
Any kind of race or game of chance will work, but I have always liked doing marble races with my kids. Have each child choose which marble they think will win. Build your own track, and use this game to teach sentences like:
Who will win? / Who is going to win?
The blue marble will win. / The blue marble is going to win.
Video Guess Game
I used to use a popular segment on the Ellen DeGeneres Show called “Ellen Plays Epic or Fail” to practice “will” or “going to” sentences. In these clips, Ellen will show a video, and you will see the first half, and then you need to decide if the person will do something “epic” or if they will “fail”. Kids love it because it is funny, and they love to guess what will happen. You don’t need to use these videos, but I know that they work very well and are free on YouTube. If not, any short clips can be used to practice. Just have your child guess what will happen next.
Simple Future Tense Exercises – Review
What are you Going to do Today?
The easiest way to practice is to just ask this question every morning. You probably already do it in your native language, so now just do it in English. It is a simple and effective way to practice this grammar every day.
Drawings about the Future
You can choose any number of questions to ask, but then have your kids draw their answer. Older kids should write down their answers as well.
Questions You Can Have them Answer and Draw:
What will you be when you grow up?
What are you going to look like when you grow up?
Where are you going to live when you grow up?
Find some books that include the simple future tense and make them a part of your nightly reading line up. Having your child actively reading the simple future tense can help them with becoming more familiar with this tense. If you want ideas on how to read with your child, take a look at our post here.
Learn Verbs with The Learner’s Nook
If you are interested in learning more about verbs in English, we have plenty of verb resources at our Verbs in English page.
Simple Future Tense – Final Thoughts
The simple future tense will open a whole new world of language possibilities for your child. The two versions of the simple future tense “will” and “going to” are wonderful tenses to teach your children because they are easy to learn and use. It may take some time for your child to adjust to the small changes, but if they already have a strong foundation in present simple and present continuous, then you should have no problems.
If you missed it, we have articles on present simple and present continuous that can help you teach your child basic English grammar. Don’t forget, if you have any questions or want our help with a tough sentence, feel free to ask by clicking on the picture below, or click here.