Master Expressing Future Plans with the Right Verb Tenses

International English Language Testing System ( IELTS )

12 mins read
Aishwarya
Aishwarya Bhatnagar
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Apr 17, 2024 10:06 IST

Confused between would or could? Or how is present continuous used for future forms? Expressing your future plans but are confused about what phrase to use and where? Here’s your guide to ace your future form expressions. Check out the future forms used to address possibilities, situations and requests in this article. 

future plans

Students often need help in choosing the correct phrasal verbs to express future forms and often need clarification on tenses. We have curated a guide to help you choose the right phrases to build communication or easily write using the future forms. Different types of future forms are used to denote actions (definite/indefinite) or even planned or unplanned events. Everything has been covered in this article for student's reference when preparing for the IELTS exam. So check it out now!

What are Future Forms?

Future forms are forms of verbs which denote the use of an action that will take place in the future or near future. 

Example:

  • I will go to the concert next month.
  • She is leaving for Delhi in a week.
  • They may go to the zoo this Sunday with the kids.
  • He is going to study in his room. 
  • We would recommend that you change your plan of action. 

There are various ways to address future plans, based on the different uses of future forms. There are a variety of forms which address future actions. Let us discuss in detail about them in the following sections.

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How are Future Plans Described?

There are four ways in which future plans can be described and all of them have been elaborated below with rules, examples and some exercises. 

Ways to Express Future Plans

Future Plans Description

Simple Future Tense

Use of will in a sentence: I will go tomorrow.

Present Continuous Tense

Use of helping verb + verb (ending with ing): I am going tomorrow.

Use of ‘Be Going To’

Use helping verb + verb (ing) form: I am going to go tomorrow. 

Modal Verbs

Use of modals based on the possibility of event occurrence: I may go tomorrow.

To understand the use of future forms in more depth, check out the following sections. 

Simple Future Tense: ‘Will’

When we talk about any future plans, we generally use the simple future tense. Which goes like this:

Simple Present Tense Rule: S + (will + root form of Verb) + O

Examples:

  • I will go to the mall over the weekend.
  • He will eat green vegetables from tomorrow to stay fit.
  • They will leave their flat by next month.
  • We will plan our next trip to Japan.
  • She will visit the temple with her friends soon.

As the examples suggest, the future plans that have been made are not fully certain. There is scope for a flexible shift in some cases, whereas in some places there is no such availability. The future plans that are being talked about are going to happen and have not happened yet.

Present Continuous Tense

For planned future events, the present continuous tense is used. These are mostly those plans which have been scheduled and arrangements for the same have been made. But are being talked about in the present tense.  

Present Continuous Tense Rule: S + [helping verb (am, is, are) + ing form of V] + O 

Examples:

  • We are going to Italy tonight for a vacation. 
  • I am presenting the paper to my batchmates tomorrow in college.
  • She is planning to resign next month.
  • They are discussing the project submission deadline next week.
  • He is organising a workshop in the office for the Editorial team in batches next Monday. 

If you can notice, there is a common pattern in the above-given examples of present continuous tense suggesting that there is a future possibility of an event happening 

Check out:

IELTS Pattern IELTS Cutoff
IELTS Books & Resources IELTS Practice Test Papers

‘Be Going To’

‘Be going to’ is another popularly used future form to point towards an event without any certainty. 

For example:

  • I am going to visit the new office soon.
  • He is going to the gym.
  • Are we going to the supermarket?
  • They are going to the concert.
  • She is going to the salon.

Based on the above examples, it can be noticed that there is no set timeline for the event. There is just a sentence which just says a couple of things about the subject and the action that is happening. 

Apart from the common use, there are three types of cases where ‘be going to’ is used - intentions, predictions and commands. All these sentences refer to a future action that is yet to happen and examples are as follows: 

Use of ‘Be Going To’

Examples 

Intentions 

  • I am going to the doctor for a health check up.
  • We are going to surprise him on his birthday.
  • She is going to set up the place for an intimate celebration. 

Predictions 

  • It’s going to rain again it seems.
  • The project is going to break all records this time.
  • We are going to sit on this assignment again I guess.

Commands 

  • Someone will fall, who’s going to pick it up?
  • Are we going to pick up the scattered toys and put them in one place?
  • We are going to the headmaster right now to complain about your misbehaviour. 

The use of ‘be going to’ is easy to understand and follow based on the above-given examples. The segregation has been done to bring in more clarity for the students preparing for the IELTS exam

Modal Verbs

Based on Collin’s Dictionary, a word such as 'can' or 'would' used with the main verb to express ideas such as possibility, intention, or necessity is amodal (verb). There are five types of modals - would, could, should, may and might which are used to define the degree of possibilities in future. 

Examples:

May or Might

Where there is a stronger possibility then may is used, otherwise might is used. Check out the examples below. 

  • I may go for the party tomorrow. (stronger possibility)
  • I might go for the party tomorrow. (lesser possibility)
  • I may go or I may not go also. 
  • She might say a few words of appreciation after the ceremony. 

Could 

Could is used when talking about some possibility or when seeking permission and even then when there is an uncertainty about someone’s ability. Check out some of the examples of could:

  • Could you please pass the salt? 
  • She could go for the party tomorrow. 
  • I don’t think she could pull off the project. 

Should

Should is used to give recommendations, express duty or obligation, suggestions and sometime for indirectly asked questions. Some of the examples for using should are as follows:

  • Should I wait for you?
  • I should not wait for you for long.
  • You should finish your work within the set time limit. 

Would

Would is used for hypothetical situations, habits or routines of the past which are still ongoing, for polite requests and less cerain situations. Some of the examples are as follows:

  • He would love to go to the new mall in the vicinity.
  • They would want to swim in the new pool. 
  • Would you please ask him for his suggestions on the presentation. 

When possibilities are in question, then modals are used ti describe the future plans. So based on the situation, modals can be used. 

Sometimes, would and could can be used interchangeably in some cases. But here is a comparison for some clarity on the usage:

Feature

Could

Would

Main Function

Possibility (present/future)

Willingness, Habit, Hypothetical

Tense

Past tense of "can" (but not always refers to past)

Past tense of "will" (but not used for past actions)

Examples (Future Possibility)

We could travel to Europe next year.

-

Examples (Willingness)

-

I would love to come to your party.

Examples (Habit)

-

I would go for a walk every morning. (past habit)

Examples (Hypothetical)

If I could fly, I would travel the world.

If I won the lottery, I would buy a mansion.

Based on the above-given table with comparison, it’ll be easier for students to identify when and where to use could or would. 

Apart from the above phrases for future plans, some more phrases can be used like - intend to, plan to or hope to. These are also different future forms used to talk about future plans. 

Also Read:

IELTS Listening Section Tips

IELTS Reading Section Tips

IELTS Writing Section Tips

IELTS Speaking Section Tips 

Future Plans Examples

To understand the future forms thoroughly, students can check out the future forms examples in the following section:

  1. The train will leave for London in 10 minutes, so hurry! (Simple Future - This action is definite and will happen at a specific time shortly.)
  2. I think I will go for a walk after dinner. It's been a long day. ("Go" refers to a future action planned for later tonight, hence a simple future.)
  3. There's a chance it may rain this afternoon, so bring an umbrella. (there is a possibility of an event to occur, hence, the modal verb will be used)
  4. We are planning to study tonight for our upcoming half-yearly exams. (planned event, hence present continuous tense)
  5. If I win the lottery, I will buy a mansion on the beach! (Simple present tense, talking about an outcome for the future)
  6. My brother is going to finish his homework on his own. (there is no event planned or no timeline is given hence, 'be go to' form of the verb can be used)
  7. I could help you with that project tomorrow if you need me. (Offering help suggests a possibility and willingness, not a definite promise. "Could" expresses this best)
  8. She might not go for the health check-up, because she is scared. (Lesser possibility, hence the use of might)
  9. He would reach your house to deliver a packet. (Hypothetical case, hence would is used)
  10. They are planning to eat at the newly opened restaurant today. (Planned hence, present continuous) 

Sample Future Plan Exercises with Answers - Beginner

Check your progress by attempting this exercise on future plans by filling the blanks with suitable form of verb:

  1. We _________ (travel / are travelling / will travel) to Italy next summer.
  2. I __________ (think / am thinking / will think) that I (may / shouldn’t) go to the movies tonight, but I haven't decided yet.
  3. My brother ____________ (studies / is going to study / will study) for his finals weekend onwards.
  4. The train ____________ (leaves / is leaving / will leave) for Paris soon.
  5. We ____________ (are going to visit / will visit) our grandparents as soon as we finish school this year. 
  6. I ____________ (may / might) be late for work tomorrow because of the doctor's appointment.
  7. My friend ____________ (gets / is getting / will get) married next month. 
  8. If I see Sarah today, I _____________ (tell / will tell / am going to tell) her about the party.
  9. We __________ (go to / are going to / will go) volunteer at the animal shelter this summer. (It's our aspiration) - Present Continuous Tense (ongoing desire for the future)
  10. My sister ___________ (intends to / is intending to / will intend to) study abroad next year. 

Answers:

1. are traveling

2. am thinking | may

3. Is going to study

4. will leave

5. will visit

6. might

7. is getting 

8. will tell

9. are going to

10. is intending to

Also check out:

Sample Future Plan Exercises with Answers - Intermediate

Fill in the blanks with suitable future forms of verbs given in the bracket for reference below: 

  1. I _________ (am considering / will consider / am going to consider) a trip to Southeast Asia next.
  2. There's a strong possibility that the company _____________ (will undergo / is undergoing / undergoing to) a restructuring in the coming months.
  3. By the end of this year, I __________ (will have completed / am going to complete / will complete) my Master's degree.
  4. The presentation ___________ (kicks off / is kicking off / will kick off) in just a few minutes, so please take your seats.
  5. As soon as the weather improves, we __________ (are planning to / will / intend to) have a barbecue in the garden. 
  6. There's a chance I ___________ (will be missing / could miss / will miss) the deadline if this report takes longer than expected. 
  7. My research project __________ (culminates / is culminating / will culminate) with a conference presentation next month.
  8. Since we have enough volunteers, we ____________ (will / are going to / could) be able to organize another fundraiser this year.
  9. Over the next few years, the company ____________ (will be projecting / projected to / will projecting) a significant growth.
  10. I _________ (would / may / might) appreciate it if you (could / would /might) be able to help me out with this task tomorrow.

Answers:

1. am going to consider

2. will undergo

3. am going to complete

4. is kicking off

5. intend to

6. could miss

7. is culminating

8. are going to

9. will be projecting

10. would | could

Is the progress going fine till now? Let’s see if you can get these correct, check them out now. 

Also check out:

IELTS Pattern IELTS Cutoff
IELTS Books & Resources IELTS Practice Test Papers

Sample Future Plan Exercises with Answers - Advanced

Fill in the blanks with suitable future forms of verbs or phrases in the following sentences: 

  1. We __________ (are planning to / will / intending to) launch the new product line by the end of this quarter.
  2. They _________ (going to be relocating / are relocating / relocate) their headquarters to a new city soon.
  3. The flight ___________ (is departing / departs / will depart) by 6 am, so we need to be at the airport by 4:30.
  4. He ____________ (will be graduating / graduates / is going to graduate) from law school next spring.
  5. The renovations _____________ (commence / will commence / are commencing) next week, so expect some noise disruptions.
  6. I ____________ (might take / will take / am taking) a gap year before starting my PhD program.
  7. They _________ (may implement / are implementing / implement) new security protocols by the end of this month.
  8. Once the merger goes through, we ____________ (will downsize / are downsizing / downsize) to a smaller office space.
  9. She ____________ (could resign / resigns / will resign) from her position if the working conditions don't improve.
  10. The committee ___________ (is deciding / will decide / decides) on the winners for this year's awards next Friday.

Answers:

1. will

2. going to be relocating

3. will depart

4. is going to graduate

5. Will commence

6. Might take

7. Are implementing

8. will downsize

9. Could resign

10. Is deciding

Hopefully, after solving the sample exercises, you will feel more confident with the use of future forms. Future forms are usually used for expressing future plans in case you are asked such questions in the IELTS Speaking Test. or even if you get essay topics in IELTS which require you to talk about your future plans, hence there, this guide will play a pivotal role. If you are preparing for IELTS, you can also you can learn for free through Shiksha's Free Online IELTS Training.

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Aishwarya Bhatnagar
Study Abroad Expert

Aishwarya is a professional Writer currently working as a Study Abroad Expert in the Editorial Team at Shiksha. She has over 5 years of experience and is skilled at creating Online Content with leveraged knowledge i... Read Full Bio

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