The Grammarphobia Blog

Presenting the future

Q: I was reviewing my German grammar the other day and read that you can use the present tense to describe something in the future, but you generally need an adverb – for example, “I’m going to Europe soon.” This made me wonder if it’s proper in English to say merely “I’m going to Europe.”

A: We can indeed indicate a future trip by saying “I’m going to Europe.” No adverb is necessary.

In fact, we have quite a few ways of speaking about the future without actually using a future tense.

One common way of indicating the future in English is by using a form of the verb “be” plus “going to” plus an infinitive. Examples: “She is going to call Mom,” “We’re going to see a movie,” “Thanks for asking, but I’m not going to go.”

There are other ways, too. The italic verbs or verb phrases in the following sentences indicate an action to take place in the future. (The examples are from The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.)

(1) Give her my regards.

(2 It is essential that she tell the truth.

(3) The match starts tomorrow.

(4) If she goes, I’ll go too.

(5) I may see her tomorrow.

(6) I want to see her tomorrow.

(7) I am seeing her tomorrow.

I hope this helps.

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