Will: The Future Simple Tense

Many resources say that when we use will it is the “future simple tense”.  But in English, there are many ways of talking about the future.

Here we’ll look at the core meaning of will, why it is useful when talking about the future, and some other ways people use it.

What is it?

Will is a verb that we use when there are options or possibilities (a modal verb).

Here are some other verbs we use in the same way, but with different meanings:

present form past form ing form en form
will
can
shall
may
must
would
could
should
might

We put these verbs before the other verbs in the sentence.

These verbs only have a present form and a past form.

What does it mean?

We use will when we think about options and possibilities.

  • We say the chosen option (a decision)
  • or the possibility that we believe is really happening (a prediction).

How do we use it?

We use will when there are options or possibilities in the future. (I’ll = I will)

This is very common. We don’t know the future, so we often have to think about options or what is possible.

For decisions:

For predictions:

I ‘ll open the window.

future simple tense timeline - will: modal verb - options - I'll open the window

Options: (a) leave it shut (b) open it

It ‘ll be sunny today.

future simple tense timeline - will: modal verb - possibilities - It will be sunny today.

Possibilities: (a) sunny (b) rain etc.

Examples

Decisions
I’ll have a coffee.
We’ll buy a new bed.
Will we go out for lunch today?
We won’t eat chicken again.
Predictions
It’ll rain tomorrow.
We’ll have flying cars in 2050.
Will it be sunny tomorrow?
We won’t be home by 7PM.
Subject will Verb Object Time
She will wait.  She’ll wait.
I will watch TV all day.  I’ll watch TV all day.
He won’t drink coffee today. He won’t drink coffee today.

Will doesn't mean future

In English, there are many ways of talking about the future. We often think about options and possibilities in the future, so we often use will.

But there are many other situations where we talk about the future without will.
(For example: be -ing, be going to, or the present form)

And will isn’t only for the future.

We also use will when there are other possibilities in the present.

Madison said she’s coming to visit us. She wants to…
(knock knock)
Ah, that’ll be her now.

I don’t know who is at the door, it may be Madison or someone else. I think it is Madison.

Key Point

Will shows that the speaker thinks about options or possibilities and a choice is made.