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Session 2

What will life be like in 100 years' time? Do you think we might all live on the moon? We all make predictions about the future, but how do we do this in English? In this session we'll look at how to talk about the future with willgoing tomight and be likely to. Read our grammar explanations and have a go at our quizzes. Will you score 100%?

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    Activity 3

Activity 3

6 Minute Grammar

Will, going to, might, be likely to

Finn and Catherine talk about birthdays and use 'will', 'going to', 'might' and 'be likely to' to talk about the future. Find out if Finn is really 28 years old, listen to some example sentences and test what you’ve learnt with our quiz.

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Catherine
Hello, and welcome to 6 Minute Grammar with me, Catherine.

Finn
And me, Finn. In this programme, we're bringing you four different phrases that we use to talk about the future.

Catherine
That's right, we're looking at will, going to, might and be likely to.

Finn
We'll tell you when we use each one…

Catherine
We'll look at their forms…

Finn
And there'll be a quiz to test what you've learned. Let's get started. Catherine, can you give us an example sentence with will:

Catherine
I can Finn. My example sentence is: I will be 29 years old next Tuesday.

Finn
That's amazing. I thought it was Wednesday. It's my birthday next Tuesday, too. I'm going to be 28.

Catherine
Really?!

Finn
No, it was just an example with going to!

Catherine
And mine was just an example with will.

Finn
So, for something we know that will happen for certain, we can use will or going to with an infinitive verb without to. We can often use either will or going to with no change in meaning. So I said: I'm going to be 28.

Catherine
…and I said: I will be 29 next Tuesday.

Finn
But… if we are sure that something is going to happen in the future, because of something that is happening in the present, it's best to use going to. And here's Neil with an example:

Neil
Look at that clear blue sky! It's going to be a lovely day.

Catherine
OK, so we don't usually look out of the window and say: Look at that clear blue sky! It will be a lovely day.

Finn
Not usually. It's usually going to when something happens now that makes us know what will happen later. So that's will and going to. Now, sometimes we are not so certain that something is going to happen…

Catherine
…and that's when we use might or might not plus an infinitive without to. Examples please, Neil?

Neil
I might move to New York next year. It depends on work.

We might not come to the party. Our daughter isn't well at the moment.

Catherine
We can also express future uncertainly with be likely to plus an infinitive. Be likely to is a bit more certain than might. Neil.

Neil
There's a lot of traffic. The journey is likely to take more than three hours.

Catherine
Thank you. And for negatives we use, be not likely to, or, more often, be unlikely to, again, with an infinitive. For example:

Neil
He hasn't trained very hard. He's not likely to win the race.

It's a long way. The journey is unlikely to take less than three hours.

IDENT
6 Minute Grammar, from BBC Learning English.

Finn
And we're talking about will, going to, might and be likely to. Let's look at questions. For will, going to and likely to, the word order is: will, going to, or be likely to, plus subject plus verb. Here are some examples.

Neil
Will they win the election? Yes, they will.

Is he going to resign? No, he won't.

Is she likely to pass? Yes, she is.

Catherine
We can also start with a question word:

Neil
When will my order arrive?

Who will win the World Cup?

Finn
It’s possible to ask questions with might plus subject plus infinitive, but you may hear questions with Do you think plus subject plus might plus infinitive, like this:

Neil
Do you think it might rain later?

Catherine
And now, it's quiz time! Question one. Which is correct? a) Jane and Joe likely to get married this year or b) Jane and Joe are likely to get married this year?

Finn
And the answer's b) Jane and Joe are likely to get married this year. Number two. Which is correct? a) I might not to go to the cinema tonight or b) I might not go to the cinema tonight.

Catherine
The correct answer is b) I might not go to the cinema tonight. Number three. Which is correct? a) My birthday is likely to be on Saturday next year. Or b) My birthday will be on Saturday next year.

Finn
And the answer is b) My birthday will be on Saturday next year. 29 again, Catherine! That's the end of the quiz. Well done if you got those right.

Catherine
And that's also the end of the show. There's more about this on our website at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Grammar.

Both
Bye!

Download

You can download 6 Minute Grammar from our Unit 28 downloads page (size: 14.2MB). Remember to subscribe to the podcast version!

End of Session 2

That's it for this session. We hope you have a better understanding of how to talk about the future in English. In Session 3 you'll get a chance to practise what you've learnt.

Session Grammar

  • Will + verb: we use this to make predictions about the future when we are certain that something is going to happen.

    The company will be 40 years old in 2016.

    Going to + verb: we use this when our prediction is based on a present situation or evidence.

    I didn't charge my phone. The battery's going to run out.

    Might + verb: we use this to show future possiblity. 

    The weather might be better next weekend.


    Be likely to + verb: we use this when we think something will happen, but we are not certain.

    The amount of electronic waste is likely to increase a lot in the near future.