English Grammar Course Unit 4: Present tenses (I am doing/ I do) with a future meaning

Why should you study this unit?

In this unit, you will learn how to talk about things that you plan to do in the future. Future doesn’t necessarily mean many weeks or months later. It includes tomorrow or the day after that. In your day to day life, you will often need to talk about future events like going for a job interview or meeting an old friend. Understanding present tenses with a future meaning, will help you communicate better.

English Grammar Course Present tenses with a future meaning

A. Present continuous with a future meaning

Study this example situation:

This is Tom’s schedule for next week.
He is playing tennis on Monday afternoon.
He is going to the dentist on Tuesday morning.
He is having dinner with Lisa on Friday.
In all these examples, Tom has already decided and arranged to do these things.

When you are talking about what you have already arranged to do, use the present continuous (I am doing). Do not use the simple present (I do).

  • A: What are you doing tomorrow evening? (not what do you do)
    B: I’m going to the theater. (not I go)
  • A:Are you playing tennis tomorrow?
    B: Yes, but Tom isn’t playing. He hurt his leg.
  • A: Lisa is coming
    B: Oh, is she? What time is she arriving?
  • A: At 10:15.
    B:Are you meeting her at the station?
    A: I can’t. I’m working tomorrow morning.

It is also possible to use going to (do) in these sentences:

  • What are you going to do tomorrow evening?
  • Tom is going to play tennis on Monday afternoon.

But the present continuous is usually more natural when you are talking about arrangements. See also Unit 5.

Do not use will to talk about what you have already arranged to do:

  • What are you doing this evening? (not what will you do)
  • Charlie is getting married next month. (not Charlie will get)

For will see Unit 6 and Unit 7.

B: Simple present with a future meaning
We use the simple present when we are talking about timetables, schedules, etc. (for example, public transportation, movies):

  • What time does the movie begin?
  • The train leaves Delhi at 7:25 a.m. and arrives in Mumbai, at 3:41 p.m.
  • The football game starts at 2:00.
  • Tomorrow is Wednesday.

But we do not usually use the simple present for personal arrangements:

  • What time are you meeting Mary? (not do you meet)

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