Lecture 13 Means of Expressing Future Time
In its long history, English has not developed a special verb form that might be rightly labeled Future Tense. •There are a number of grammatical means that can be used to express future time. Shall and will are only one form among them.So when we say that English has no future tense, we certainly do not mean that English has not the means of expressing future time. Instead there are a number of constructions that can be used to denote futurity in English.
13.1 Constructions denoting future time • Future time can be expressed by means of modal auxiliaries, semi-auxiliaries, the simple present and present progressive forms. • 1)Will / shall + infinitive • Will / shall + infinitive can be used to express future. But in many cases, the future meaning expressed by these auxiliaries are very often colored by modal meanings from prediction to intention and volition.
--- I will be here tomorrow. (future + intention) • --- Tomorrow’s weather will be cold and cloudy. (future + assumption) • --- When shall I see you next? (listener’s intention) • 2) Will / shall + progressive infinitive • * This construction usually implies an action which will occur in the normal course of events without any human involvement, ie. without being colored by volition and intention. • --- I will go to town this afternoon. • --- I will be going to town this afternoon.
--- Hurry up. They will be waiting. • * This construction can also be used to denote an action that is still going on at a given future time. • --- I will be studying in London during August. • --- What will you be doing this time tomorrow morning? • Will / shall + perfective infinitive • This construction can be used to express an action that has just finished before a given future time. • ---I will have completed the English course by this time next year.
Will / shall + perfective progressive infinitive • If an action has extended for a special length of time before a given future moment and possibly continues at that moment, we can use this construction. • --- At the end of this week I shall have been studying in this country for exactly three years.
3) be going to + infinitive • a) The uses of be going to + infinitive • This construction is usually used to express two meanings: intention and prediction. • * In its first use, the “be going to” form implies an intention of doing something in the near future. The doer of the intended action is generally the subject of the sentence, but in some contexts it may also be implied or realized by a different element, but with personal intention. • --- Next year we are going to spend our summer vacation in Sydney. • --- A house is going to be built there.
In its second use, “be going to” can express the speaker’s feeling of certainty or strong probability. The time is usually not mentioned, but the action is expected to happen in the near or immediate future. It can be used with both personal and non-personal subject. • --- She is going to have a baby. • --- It is going to rain. • --- He is going to arrive late at the concert. (context) • --- He doesn’t like music. He…… • --- He hasn’t yet had supper. He …….
b) Contrast between be going to and will • *A. Be going to: premeditated intention • Will: unpremeditated intention • --- She has bought some cloth; she is going to make herself a dress. • ---Where is the telephone book? I’ll get it for you. • Shall用于第二、三人称主语时，仍表示第一人称主语（说话人）的意愿(willingness)或意志，这时可以与be to，但不可与be going to交替使用。
e.g. You shall obey / are to obey / *are going to obey my orders! (I’m willing to let you obey my orders.) She shan’t be / ?isn’t to be / *isn’t going to be back late. (I’m not willing to let her be back late) • *B. The both forms can express prediction. • Be going to: implying that there are signs that something will happen • Will: implying what the speaker thinks or believes will happen,no signs • ---She is going to have a baby. (She is pregnant.) • ---She will love her baby. (It is her baby.)
Look at the balck clouds – it *will rain / is going to rain. • 4) Present progressive • The present progressivecan express an action that will happen in the near future according to a present arrangement, plan, or program. • --- What time are you coming back? • As a future form, the present progressive is widely used with verbs of movement from one place to another such as go, come, leave, start, arrive, etc. and other dynamic verbs. • --- We are leaving on Friday.
•When used to denote futurity, the future reference must be clearly indicated. • --- He is washing the dishes. (now, later) • •Since both the “be going to” form and the present progressive can be used to refer to a future happening arising from the present decision, the two forms are sometimes interchangeable for future reference. • --- She is getting married this winter.(=She is going to get married this winter.) 都表示主语计划、安排的将来的行为时，通常前者表示说话之前已做出的决定，但不一定是肯定的安排，后者表示不但已做出决定，
而且是“肯定的安排”，通常不容改变。 We are going to invite / are inviting several people to the party. When expressing that something will probably happen, we often use “be going to”. --- I feel dizzy. I think I am going to faint. *I think I am fainting.
5) Be to + infinitive • 1) As a form expressing futurity, this construction can denotes a future happening based on a present plan or arrangement. It is very much used in newspapers, and in headlines with the verb “be” omitted to save space. • ---The line (is) to be open to traffic on October 1. • 2) Another use of this construction is to convey orders, instructions, or prohibitions; it can also connote possibility or destiny. • --- You are to stand here. Do you understand? (order) • --- The football match is not to be played tonight. (possibility)
The future action expressed by be to + infinitive is usually controlled by human will. In this case, be to + infinitive and be going to can be used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. --- I am going to play football this afternoon. (present intention) --- I am to play football this afternoon. (planned) • “Be going to” cannot be replaced by “be to +infinitive” when expressing the action that is not controlled by human will. • ---He is going to be fat. *He is to be fat. • --- It is going to rain. *It is to rain.
Be about to +infinitive • This construction expresses an immediate future and can be used interchangeably with “be on the point of + -ing participle” and with “be just going to +infinitive”. • --- We are just about to leave. • --- The talk is just about to begin.
6) Simple present • a) The future use of the simple present is more frequent in dependent, especially conditional and temporal, clauses than in main clauses. • --- If you try hard, we’ll be able to finish the plan. • --- Mr. Smith will telephone you as soon as he returns. • b) In main clauses, the simple present refers to an immutable future event predetermined by a timetable or a schedule which is very definite and unalterable. • --- Tomorrow is my birthday. • --- The term starts on September 1.
For future reference, the simple present, just like the present progressive, usually goes with transitional verbs with the implication of a “plan” or “program” already made, but the plan implied by the simple present is more impersonal than that by the present progressive, and therefore, more fixed and unalterable. • 表示预示将来的事态或不受人的意志控制的纯将来行为或有前提条件可能发生的事件时，只能用will(主语为各人称)和shall(主语为第一人称)，不能用be going to或一般现在时:
One day I / you / he will die. • *One day he is going to die • (contrast: He’s dying next week只能指某种筹划中的死亡，例如处决) • I shall be 25 / *am going to be 25 next week. • “Come to the party.” • “Ok, I will bring / *bring /*am going to bring my boyfriend.”
the simple present, the present progressive and will + do • 1)表示集体的决定、按时刻表或日程有组织的活动，而非主语的计划、安排，用一般现在时，只是也可被现在进行体取代，意义完全相同或基本相同： e.g. The match starts/is starting at 2 o’clock. • (都是比赛组织者作出的安排) • 2)一般现在时表示已计划好将来的行为，今后不大可能改变，安排是集体作出的；进行体表示宣布了现在的计划，将来也可能改变，安排是主语作出的。 • We start / are starting for Istanbul tonight.
3)表示开始或终结的动词(begin, end, stop,open, close等)可用一般现在时，也可用 “will+do”，前者表肯定的安排，后者不十分肯定，但不能用进行体。 e.g. The exhibition closes / will close / *is closing on Friday next week. 4) 表明日历标明的日期，用be或fall的一般现在时，也可用“will+do”，但不能用进行体： e.g. Tomorrow is / will be / *is being Saturday. Next Christmas falls/will fall/ *is falling on a Thursday.