Grammar: Plans for the future

Grammar: arrangements and plans for the future
Elementary to intermediate level (A1-B2)

We often want to talk about our arrangements and plans but how can you talk about them in English?

A simple way to talk about fixed arrangements is to use the present progressive/continuous ‘tense’. Here are some arrangements where the time and place are fixed:

  • I’m expecting a call at 10.30.
  • Tomorrow I’m seeing a film with some friends.
  • Next week I’m driving to Bristol for a job interview.
  • Next month I’m starting a new job.
  • Next year I’m going to Iceland. I bought the tickets yesterday!

and some questions about arrangements:

  • What are you doing for your birthday?
  • Where are you going?
  • After the party, who’s driving you home?

If the place and time are not fixed but there is something we plan to do, we can often use ‘be going to‘ (American ‘gonna’) e.g.

  • I’m going to complain to the manager (the food was terrible).
  • I’m going to lose some weight this year (you are too heavy).
  • I’m going to sell my car (petrol has become too expensive).

and in questions:

  • What are you going to do about the situation?
  • When are you going to start being nice to me?

When people speak about future plans and intentions, they often add extra words to give more information:

  • I’m definitely going to complain to the manager.
  • Hopefully I’m going to get a good job this year.
  • I think I’m going to sell my car.

Both of these ways of talking about the future connect the present and the future and are used a lot in English. In these examples, using ‘will’ is not possible!

Don’t forget there are other ways we can talk about future plans and arrangements:

  • I might sell my car (not sure yet).
  • I have to sell my car (my bank balance is negative!).
  • I’m looking forward to starting my new job.
  • I’m hoping to finish my work before tomorrow (intention).

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