4. The Future. Future Perfect and Future Continuous

As you know, Katie and Esteban met in Edinburgh. He was studying engineering at Zaragoza University and went to Scotland to visit a Spanish friend who was an Erasmus student at Edinburgh University. She was still working at a small hotel in Amsterdam but was spending Hogmanay with her family.

What is Hogmanay? Find out here.

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Hogmanay in Edinburgh

Image in Flickr by robbie_shade under CC


That’s right. Hogmanay is the Scottish New Year Celebration. It includes traditions such as First Footing, the singing of Auld Lang Syne and the making of New Year resolutions. The making of resolutions is a typical New Year tradition in many parts of the world. Popular modern resolutions include the promise to lose weight or quit smoking. New year resolutions hark bark to the notion at the core of many Hogmanay traditions of old: making a new start. After a particularly heavy night’s partying, a common resolution made by many is “never again”. But of course, if there is one Hogmanay tradition that’s never likely to fade it’s that most resolutions rarely last beyond the end of January so don’t feel too bad if you fall by the wayside.

Source: http://www.visitscotland.com/guide/inspirational/features/very-scottish/hogmanay

New Year Resolutions

A New Year resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to a personal goal, project, or the reforming of a habit. This lifestyle change is generally interpreted as advantageous. A New Year’s Resolution is generally a goal someone sets out to accomplish in the coming year. Some examples include resolutions to donate to the poor more often, to become more assertive, or to become more environmentally responsible. A key element to a New Year’s Resolution that sets it apart from other resolutions is that it is made in anticipation of the New Year, and new beginnings.

Click on the image and watch and listen to the famous book and film character Bridget Jones making her resolutions.

 Bridget Jones

Among other things she says:

I will lose 20 pounds.
I will find a nice sensible boyfriend to go out with.
I will not fantasize about a particular person.

Singer Jamie Cullum makes resolutions in the following song too. They include:

I’m going to drink less beer.
I’m going to read more books.


So, which future form do you use for New Year resolutions then, will or going to?

There are seven verb forms which express future time in English.

1. The present simple
2. The present continuous
3. The going to structure
4. The future simple
5. The future continuous
6. The future perfect simple
7. The future perfect continuous

1. The present simple is used for future events based on a timetable or programme of events.

My flight arrives in Glasgow at 6pm tomorrow evening. (It says this on my ticket)
Dancing with the Stars starts at 6pm tonight. (It’s in the TV guide)

2. The present continuous is used for future arrangements.

I’m meeting my sister after work. (We have arranged to do this)

3. The future simple (will).

3.1. Will is used for spontaneous decisions. This means that the decision isn’t premeditated (the decision to act is made at the same time you speak).

It’s hot in here. I’ll open the window. (I’ve decided to this now)

-It’s John’s birthday today.
-Is it? I’ll call him to wish him a happy birthday. (I didn’t know that)
3.2. Will expresses a prediction made without any evidence or supporting reasons. It’s commonly used with think, know or be sure.

Barcelona will win the match. (That’s what I think)
I’m sure he won’t be late. (I believe this to be true)

3.3. Will is used to express future facts.
The next World Cup will be in Brazil.

4. Going to.

4.1. Going to is used when the decision is made before speaking (premeditated).

Jane’s going to retire next year. (He decided to this some time ago)
-It’s John’s birthday today.
-I know. I’m going to meet him tonight. (I already knew about it)

4.2. Going to is more common for predictions based on present evidence or with supporting reasons.

It’s very cloudy. I think it’s going to rain. (present evidence)
Barcelona are going to win. They’ve never lost to that team before. (supporting reason)



When the verb used is go or come, only the present continuous can be employed. In this case it doesn’t matter whether it is an arrangement or a plan.

I’m going to London tomorrow. (NOT I’m going to go to London)
My parents are coming to visit us next weekend. (NOT My parents are going to come to visit us)

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Robert Burns

Image in Flickr by SnapshotsofthePast.com under CC

The song Auld Lang Syne is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. At least partially written by Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, in the 1700’s, it was first published in 1796 after Burns’ death. Early variations of the song were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition. An old Scottish tune, Auld Lang Syne literally means old long ago, or simply, the good old days. The lyrics can be found here.
It’s not clear when joining hands with your neighbour for the singing of the Burns favourite became associated with Hogmanay particularly, although it’s now a world-wide phenomenon.

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One of the major Hogmanay customs was first footing. Shortly after the bells – the stroke of midnight when public clocks would chime to signal the start of the new year – neighbours would visit one another’s houses to wish each other a good new year. This visiting was known as first footing, and the luckiest first-foot into any house was a tall, dark and handsome man – perhaps as a reward to the woman who traditionally had spent the previous day scrubbing her house (another Hogmanay ritual). Women or red heads, however, were always considered bad luck as first-foots.

First-foots brought symbolic gifts to the house: coal for the fire, to ensure that the house would be warm and safe, and shortbread or black bun (a type of fruit cake) to symbolise that the household would never go hungry that year.

Katie and Esteban made their New Year resolutions, but they also made some predictions about their future. Who said what? Which predictions do you think became true?



This time next week I will be studying for my physics exam.

Next month I’ll be travelling again.

By next year I’ll have visited at least 10 different countries.

In two years I will have finished my degree.

In 10 years time I’ll still be travelling around the world.

In 10 years time on New Years Day I will be marrying that girl.


Listen and check.






Can you identify the tenses used in the previous predictions?

Image in Flickr by oatsy40 under CC

5. The future continuous.

5.1. An activity in progress at a specified future time
Don’t phone me at 8pm because I’ll be watching the football. (Activity will be in progress at this time)
This time next month I’ll be lying on a beach on a Greek island. (This is what I hope to be doing)
5.2. A situation which will happen in the natural course of events.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. This is your pilot speaking. We will be flying at a height of 37,000 feet. (The pilot didn’t decide this, all flights must travel at this altitude)
Now that you’ve resigned from your job, you’ll be looking for a new one. (This would be the natural thing to do)
6. The future perfect simple expresses an action or state which will finish before or on a specified future time.

By September I’ll have worked for this company for five years.
Don’t ask me for the report on Friday because I won’t have finished it by then.

7. The future perfect continuous is similar to the future perfect simple but used when an activity lasts over a longer period of time or the focus is on an activity.
Tom will be furious! He’ll have been waiting for hours by the time we get there!


Because the future continuous implies that the person speaking isn’t directly involved in the decision making process, it can be used in tactful questions or very formal requests.

Dad. Will you be using the car tonight? (Can I borrow it if you aren’t?)
Will you be wanting anything else, sir?
The future continuous and future perfect tenses are similar to their equivalent narrative tenses (the past continuous and past perfect).


What are your hopes for the future? Make some personal predictions about ten year’s time (or choose another length of time) and post it on the forum:

what you will/won’t be doing.

where you will/won’t be.

what you will/won’t have done by then.


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