Grammar for IELTS: A Look at Future Forms

January 22, 2020 by Andrea Castro Andrea Castro

If you’ve been following our Grammar for IELTS series, then you’re already aware of the importance of using a wide range of grammatical structures on your IELTS test. If you haven’t read our previous posts from this series yet, you can find them here: 

Grammar for IELTS: A Look at the Passive Voice 

Grammar for IELTS: A Look at Relative Clauses 

Grammar for IELTS: A Look at Modals 

Today, we’ll be looking at future forms, so keep on reading! 

What are future forms? 

There are a few different ways to talk about the future in the English language. While all future forms indicate a later point in time, each one of them suggests a specific intention or attitude towards the future. Being familiar with the different future forms and their uses will allow you to choose the right structures to talk about future events on your IELTS.

  • Present simple 

The present simple tense is often used to talk about future events that are scheduled: 

The bus leaves tonight at 7:30 p.m. 

I’m excited - school starts next week 

I know the meeting is onFriday, but they still haven’t confirmed a time. 

  • Be + -ing form(or present continuous) 

Be + -ing form is used to talk about plans or arrangements: 

I’m graduating this winter. 

My sister and her family are moving to Australia next year.  

We’re staying with friends when we get to Toronto. 

  • Will + infinitive 

Will + infinitive can be used to… 

… make predictions: 

Scientists believe that many coastal cities will soon be underwater due to climate change. 

By 2050, all electronic devicewill have some sort of connection to the cloud and the Internet. 

… express a decision we’ve made spontaneously: 

I think I’ll go home and relax after the test.  

I’ll try to book the flights tonight.  

… express beliefs about the future: 

Everyone thinks he’ll become a surgeon like his dad when he grows up. 

I’m sure we’ll have fun at the party.  

  • Be going to 

Be going to is used to talk about plans and intentions: 

She’s going to quit her job and start her own business. 

I’m going to do a Master’s in Early Childhood Education. 

They said theyre going to buy an electric car to help to reduce air pollution. 

  • Will be + -ing form (or future continuous) 

Will be + -ing form can be used to…  

… talk something happening before and after a particular time in the future: 

We’ll be flying to Europe by this time tomorrow.  

I can’t go out tonight because I’ll be studying for my finals.  

… talk about arrangements and intentions (instead of the present continuous or be going to): 

I’ll be attending a conference next week. 

My brother will be visiting for a few days later this month. 

  • Will have + past participle (or future perfect) 

Will have + past participle is used to talk about a point in time by which an action will be completed or finished: 

I’m sure she’ll have finished reading the entire book by then.  

By 2020, I’ll have completed my degree.  

Scientists say that all seafood will have run out by 2050.  

  • Will have been+ -ing form (or future perfect continuous) 

In December, we will have been working on this project for a year.  

They will have been living in Mexico for three years at that point. 

By the time she turns 20, she will have been playing the cello for 12 years!  

IELTS & future forms 

In IELTS, talking about the future is very common. This is especially true in Speaking Part 3 and Writing Task 2. It’s important that you consider your level of certainty when choosing a future form to talk about future events. For example, if you’re going to make a claim about the future, think about how much evidence you have and choose a future form accordingly. Remember that future forms are flexible, which means that there might be a number of different ways to express the same meaning. On test day, try using different forms when talking about the future to demonstrate that you’re able to use a variety of grammatical structures.

Andrea Castro

Andrea is an experienced English teacher who has worked since 2009 in Costa Rica, Dubai and now Canada. When not working for IELTS, she spends her time with her little girl and her two canine siblings.

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