1. Education
Richard Nordquist

Does English Have a Future Tense?

By June 17, 2013

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There are several ways of expressing the future in English, including the use of:

All the same, many contemporary linguists--including the authors of A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (1985) and The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (2002)--insist that "there is no future tense in English." . . .

For the complete article (revised and expanded), see Does the English Language Have a Future Tense?


June 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm
(1) Hendri says:

Dear Sir,
I’m interested to know more about your statement that “all linguists agree that there is no Future Tense. So, what about the lesson given and taught all over the world?. Even in the Cambridge English Grammar (2009) if I am not mistake, it is written there about it. In addition, all non-English natives who teach English refer to the English linguists based on their book. What do you think??


June 25, 2013 at 10:05 pm
(2) HillRunner says:

I love fine-tuning my understanding of grammar, but this thesis is counter-evidential and pointlessly pedantic. (Thanks for presenting various sides of the controversy.)

The rich abundance of varied ways that English-speakers express future action, probability, interrogation, imperative, possibility, progression and perfection give us–and many other languages–a robust multitude of future verb possibilities.

If we listed all those possibilities, including subjunctives, English probably offers more than a score.

In that sense only, does English not have “a” future tense.

June 28, 2013 at 1:49 am
(3) Gloria says:

We could use a term for people who respond online to articles they haven’t bothered to read (or at least haven’t bothered to read carefully). Take Hendri’s comment above. He makes up a quote that never appears in the original post and then babbles politely. A knee-jerker, perhaps?

June 30, 2013 at 8:56 am
(4) B dastgiri says:

I think it can’t be so, since in our real world a future tense is absolutely deniable. But its possible to express it in some different ways. For instance, in order to make a past tense from some verbs we should change them somehow, but to make a future one some modals (such as will) is enough. We must consider all aspects.


July 16, 2013 at 3:02 am
(5) Oliver Lehmann says:

This is an interesting discussion.

I agree that English has a future mode but no future tense.

Being a German, it made me aware that German also has no future tense. No surprise, in the end, English is just a German dialect like Suabian or Bavarian, or Schwitzerdütsch.

Another interesting question:

In German, we use “become” as a modal verb: “Ich werde gehen” literally means “I become go[ing]”

In English, “will” is used for that purpose, which is rather “want”. “I will go” actually means “I want to go”. Or am I wrong?

So, when someone says “I am afraid, my car will break”, is this an example of humanization?

July 26, 2013 at 12:36 pm
(6) Kamal Raj Dahal says:

Dear sir,
I absolutely agree that English has no future tense but there are common ways of talking about it. However, there are different grammar books which have given it with distinct structural patterns. I expect improvement on them.

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