How to Write in Future Tense (Your Complete Guide)

Posted on Jul 31, 2023

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Welcome to our comprehensive guide on mastering the art of writing in the future tense.

The future tense is a fundamental element of grammar, enabling us to express actions and events that are yet to occur.

Whether you are an aspiring writer, a student eager to improve your language skills, or simply someone looking to enhance your communication abilities, understanding and effectively employing the future tense is essential.

In this article, we will walk you through the intricacies of this versatile tense, exploring its various forms, common usage scenarios, and helpful tips to ensure your writing shines with clarity and precision.

Whether you are crafting captivating narratives, informative essays, or professional documents, harnessing the future tense will add depth and anticipation to your work. 

This guide on how to write in future tense covers:

  1. What is ‘future tense’?
  2. Verb conjugation in the future tense
  3. Time expressions
  4. Degrees of certainty
  5. Narrative and dialogue usage
  6. Avoiding ambiguity

Let’s start with some basic definition work.

What is ‘future tense’?

Future tense is a grammatical tense used in language to express actions, events, or states that are anticipated or expected to happen in the future, after the current time of speaking or writing. It allows speakers and writers to project actions forward in time, indicating that they have not yet occurred at the moment of expression. In English, the future tense is commonly formed using the auxiliary verb “will” followed by the base form of the main verb (e.g., “I will write,” “She will sing”).

The future tense serves a variety of functions in communication, such as expressing predictions, intentions, plans, promises, and expectations. It is an essential tool in storytelling, allowing writers to create anticipation, foreshadow events, and set the stage for the development of their narratives. Additionally, the future tense often appears in instructions, schedules, forecasts, and any context where actions or events are anticipated in the upcoming moments, days, weeks, months, or years.

In some languages, like Spanish or French, the future tense may have distinct conjugations or endings for regular and irregular verbs. However, in English, the future tense is generally straightforward, utilizing the auxiliary verb “will” as the primary marker for future actions.

Verb conjugation in the future tense

In the future tense, verb conjugation involves modifying the base form of a verb to indicate actions or events that will happen after the present moment. In English, the most common way to form the future tense is by using the auxiliary verb “will” before the base form of the main verb. For regular verbs, this simply entails adding “will” before the base form (e.g., “I will write,” “She will sing”). However, irregular verbs may have unique forms in the future tense (e.g., “I will go” instead of “I will goed”).

It is essential for writers and language learners to grasp verb conjugation in the future tense to express intentions, predictions, or plans accurately. Understanding how to apply “will” correctly and identify irregular verbs empowers writers to craft clear and coherent sentences that project actions forward in time. Mastering verb conjugation in the future tense enhances one’s ability to convey a sense of anticipation and foresight in their writing, adding depth and dynamism to their narratives and communications.

Time expressions

Time expressions play a crucial role in conjunction with the future tense, as they provide context and specify when an anticipated action or event will take place. These expressions help writers and speakers establish a clear timeframe, making their communication more precise and meaningful.

Common time expressions used with the future tense include “tomorrow,” “next week,” “in a year,” “soon,” “later,” “eventually,” “by the end of,” and “in the future.” These phrases enable the audience to envision the timing of the action or event being discussed, creating a sense of anticipation and setting expectations.

Time expressions in the future tense are versatile and adaptable, making them invaluable in various contexts. In storytelling, they can build suspense and foreshadow events. In everyday communication, they aid in making plans, setting deadlines, and expressing intentions. Furthermore, in academic or professional writing, these expressions bring clarity to predictions and projections.

Mastery of time expressions in combination with the future tense allows writers and speakers to convey a more nuanced understanding of time and confidently share their vision of future events.

Degrees of certainty

Degrees of certainty are an essential aspect of the future tense, as they allow speakers and writers to express varying levels of confidence or probability regarding future actions or events. Modal auxiliary verbs play a key role in indicating these degrees of certainty in English.

The primary modal auxiliary verb used for the future tense is “will,” which generally conveys a high degree of certainty about the future action (e.g., “I will attend the event”). However, other modal verbs like “might,” “may,” “can,” and “shall” introduce different levels of probability. For instance, “might” and “may” suggest a possibility but with less certainty (e.g., “She might come late,” “They may finish the project early”). On the other hand, “can” implies the capability to perform an action in the future (e.g., “We can meet tomorrow”), while “shall” may indicate a formal or emphatic promise (e.g., “I shall be there on time”).

Understanding the nuances of degrees of certainty in the future tense allows writers and speakers to communicate intentions, predictions, and possibilities with greater accuracy and subtlety, enriching the language and fostering clearer communication.

Narrative and dialogue usage

The future tense finds versatile application in both narrative writing and dialogue, adding depth and anticipation to the storytelling experience. In narratives, authors employ the future tense to foreshadow events or hint at what lies ahead, creating a sense of suspense and intrigue. By projecting actions forward in time, writers build anticipation and keep readers engaged, eager to see how the future unfolds for the characters and the plot.

In dialogue, the future tense helps characters express their plans, intentions, and predictions about upcoming events. Whether it’s characters discussing their future endeavors, making promises, or outlining their aspirations, the use of the future tense brings realism and authenticity to their conversations. It allows writers to reveal characters’ motivations and shape their personalities through their vision of what lies ahead.

By skillfully incorporating the future tense in narrative and dialogue, writers infuse their works with a sense of forward momentum, making their stories captivating and compelling, and forging a strong connection with their readers.

Avoiding ambiguity

Avoiding ambiguity is paramount when using the future tense to ensure clear and unambiguous communication.

One common challenge is the potential confusion between the future tense and other tenses, particularly the present tense and the present continuous tense.

To mitigate ambiguity, writers must consider the context carefully. If a sequence of events is being described, it’s crucial to differentiate between actions happening in the present and those projected into the future. Mixing tenses inappropriately can lead to confusion and muddle the reader’s understanding.

Additionally, writers should be cautious when using time expressions. Words like “tomorrow” or “next week” imply future events, but their interpretation can vary depending on when the statement is made. Thus, it’s essential to provide sufficient context or use more specific time references to avoid misunderstandings.

Also, writers should clarify any conditional statements tied to future events. Ambiguity can arise when conditions are not explicitly stated, leaving readers uncertain about whether an action will indeed take place.

By diligently considering the context, selecting appropriate time expressions, and providing clarity in conditional statements, writers can sidestep ambiguity and ensure their use of the future tense enhances rather than confuses their message.

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