Form of the Simple Future Tense


The Simple Future is formed with will + the base form of the verb.

affirmative short form

I will > I'll >
You will > You'll >
He will > He'll >
She will > She'll > stay.
It will > It'll >
We will > We'll >
You will > You'll >
They will > They'll >

negative short forms

I will not > I'll not > I won't >
You will not > You'll not > You won't >
He will not > He'll not > He won't >
She will not > She'll not > She won't > stay.
It will not > It'll not > It won't >
We will not > We'll not > We won't >
You will not > You'll not > You won't >
They will not > They'll not > They won't >


Notes on the form of the Simple Future Tense


1. Shall and will

Will is used with all persons, but shall can be used as an alternative with I and we in pure future reference.

Shall is usually avoided with you and I:

  • You and I will work in the same office.

2. Contractions

Shall weakens to /S@l/ in speech, but does not contract to 'll in writing. Will contracts to 'll in writing and in fluent, rapid speech after vowels (I'll, we'll, you'll, etc.) but 'll can occur after consonants. So we might find 'll used: e.g.

- after names: Tom'll be here soon.

- after common nouns: The concert'll start in a minute.

- after question-words: When'll they arrive?

3. Negatives

Will not contracts to 'll not or won't; shall not contracts to shan't:

  • We won't or shan't go. (I/We will not or shall not go).

In American English shan't is rare and shall with a future reference is unusual.

4. Future Tense

When we use will/shall for simple prediction, they combine with verbs to form tenses in the ordinary way:

  • Simple Future: I will see

  • Future Progressive: I will be seeing

  • Future Perfect: I will have seen

  • Future Perfect Progressive: I will have been seeing


Uses of the 'will/shall' future


1. 'Will/shall' for prediction briefly compared with other uses

Will and shall can be used to predict events, for example, to say what we think will happen, or to invite prediction:

  • Tottenham will win on Saturday.

  • It will rain tomorrow. Will house prices rise again next year?

  • I don't know if I shall see you next week.


This is sometimes called 'the pure future', and it should be distinguished from many other uses of will and shall: e.g.

  • I'll buy you a bicycle for your birthday. [promise]

  • Will you hold the door open for me please? [request]

  • Shall I get your coat for you? [offer]

  • Shall we go for a swim tomorrow? [suggestion]

  • Just wait - you'll regret this! [threat]


Though all the above examples point to future time, they are not 'predicting'; they are 'coloured' by notions of willingness, etc. Will/shall have so many uses as modal verbs that some grammarians insist that English does not have a pure future tense.

2. 'Will' in formal style for scheduled events

Will is used in preference to be going to when a formal style is required, particularly in the written language:

  • The wedding will take place at St Andrew's on June 27th. The reception will be at the Anchor Hotel.

3. 'Will/shall' to express hopes, expectations, etc.

The future is often used after verbs and verb phrases like assume, be afraid, be sure, believe, doubt, expect, hope, suppose, think:

  • I hope she'll get the job she's applied for.


The Present with a future reference is possible after hope:

  • I hope she gets the job she's applied for.


Lack of certainty, etc. can be conveyed by using will with adverbs like perhaps, possibly, probably, surely:

  • Ask him again. Perhaps he'll change his mind.


Time adverbials with the 'will/shall' future tense


Some adverbials like tomorrow are used exclusively with future reference; others like at 4 o'clock, before Friday, etc. are used with other tenses as well as the Future:

  • I'll meet you at 4 o'clock.


Now and just can also have a future reference:

  • This shop will now be open on June 23rd. (a change of date)

  • I'm nearly ready. I'll just put my coat on.