The Latin word ‘Tempus’ means ‘time’, which is the origin of the English term ‘Tense’ and in English language tense is used to indicate time. When we wish to write and speak about things that will or could happen in the future or want to talk about an action which is yet to happen, but will happen in future, we use the Future tense. As the term ‘future’ indicates an indefinite period of time, there are different types of future tenses to help share them all. However, unlike the present and the past tenses, future tense does not have its own verb form. Hence it needs ‘helping verbs’, known as ‘auxiliary verbs’, for its formation. In other words, future tense cannot be formed without the auxiliary verbs. The main modal auxiliaries are: Can / could / may / might / must / shall / should / will / would.
The term ‘future’ may mean any time starting from this afternoon, tonight, tomorrow, or even hundred years from now. Accordingly, there are different types of future tenses to suit them all. However, there are four important types of future tense, known as: the Simple Future, Future Continuous, Future Perfect, and Future Perfect Continuous. We are going to discuss about them one by one.
In Modern English, the Simple Future or Future Indefinite Tense is the basic form of the Future Tense and is mainly used to describe events, which will or could take place at any time in the future and that will happen only once.
In the Simple Future or the Future Indefinite Tense, we use the base form of the verb with a modal auxiliary, like ‘shall’ or ‘will’. Thus, the simple future follows the structure: subject + shall/will + verb + object.
Examples: I shall go there tomorrow. / You will play tomorrow. / They will not come here. / I will eat a cheeseburger for dinner. / Urmi might buy a new tab tomorrow. / You will look great in that dress.
The Future Continuous Tense, also known as the Future Progressive Tense, express about things or actions that will be happening continuously for sometime in the future. It is, in fact, a verb tense that indicates that something will occur or happen in the future and will continue for an expected length of time. Hence, it follows the structure: subject + shall be/will be + main verb + ing + object. To show this, we use a modal auxiliary, the verb ‘to be’, and a verb ending in ‘ing’.
Examples: I shall be reading the book. / He will be going to office. / I will be eating cheeseburgers until the day I die. / The dogs could be barking loudly when you arrive.
Now, let us take another example: Ajit Singh will be running a marathon this Saturday. It is to be noted that, ‘will be running’ is the future continuous tense of the verb ‘to run’. The structure of construction with the subject + will be + the verb ending in ‘ing’ (running), indicates that the event is not going to happen in an instant, all at once and it will have a duration. The will + be + present participle construction always indicates the future continuous tense.
The Future Perfect Tense implies an action or event that will have been completed or perfected, between now and some point in the future. Sometimes it also expresses that, by the time one action or event happens another will have happened. To make a statement or a sentence in the future perfect, the modal ‘will’ and the auxiliary ‘have’ should be placed before the past participle form of the main verb. The use of the past participle form of a verb in the future tense may seem confusing, but it is required to show that something will have happened before another thing.
Hence, a sentence written in the future perfect should follow the Subject + shall have/will have + past participle form of main verb + object.
Examples: Before he sees his publisher, Supratim will have finished four chapters in his new novel. / I will have been here for six months on 23rd July. / You will have finished your report by this time next week. / If all goes well, by June 2012, I will have finished my university degree.
The Future Perfect Continuous, also known as the Future Perfect Progressive, is in fact a verb tense, which describes actions that will continue up until a point in the future. In other words, it describes actions or events that have been going on continuously until a certain time in the future. Mostly used with a time expression, it refers to events or actions that are currently unfinished, but will be finished at some time in the future.
Expressions like, ‘for five minutes’, ‘for two weeks’ or ‘since Friday’ are all related to durations and can be used in the Future Perfect Continuous.
A sentence in the Future Perfect Continuous follows: subject + modal (shall/will) + have been + verb root + ing + object + time reference.
Examples: When I turn thirty, I will have been playing violin for twenty-one years. / I will have been waiting here for three hours by six o'clock. / It will have been running Since Morning. / She will have been dancing for 1 hour. / He will have been trying to open the door for 2 hours. / In April, she will have been teaching for twelve years. / Will the people have been tolerating injustice? / You will not have been waiting for more than two hours when her plane finally arrives. / Amrita will have been watching TV since morning.