4.1 Talking about possibility
• We use will for making predictions about the future. We often
use / think and I don't think with will.
I don't think it'll snow tonight.
• We can use shall/shan't instead of will/won't with and we,
but will is more common.
I think we shall visit Italy next summer.
• We also use will to make assumptions about the present.
It's 4.40. Right now Jim will be on his way home.
Helen will be getting on the plane.
• We also use will to express our assumptions about the
It's six o'clock. Mum will be preparing dinner.
I'm sure the football match will have finished by now.
must and can't
• We use must for talking about things which we can deduce
are definitely true.
He must be at work. He just called me from his office.
• We use can't for talking about things which we can deduce
She can't be abroad. She hasn't got a passport.
may, might and could
• We use may, might or could for speculating about things that
are possibly true.
Fred may be in town. Why don't you phone him?
Don't throw that vase away. It might be valuable.
Your friends are very late. They could be lost
• They often refer to a future event.
Be careful with those plates. You might break them.
• We can use the negative forms may not and might not.
However, we cannot use the negative form couldn't in this
I've sent her a postcard, but it may not/might not arrive.
(NOT I've sent her a postcard, but it could not arrive.)
couldn't has a similar meaning to can't and expresses
impossibility. It's often used with possibly.
couldn't possibly accept the invitation to Jan's party. Ill be
away that weekend
• We use should to say that something is likely to happen, in
I should be home by six o'clock
Tim might be a bit late for the meeting, but that shouldn't be a
• We can use other phrases to express probability.
be bound to (it's certain)
The score is 4-0 with two minutes to go. They're bound to win.
chances are (that) (= it's probable (that)
Chances are I won't hand in my homework on time. (= very
be likely (= be probable)
Is it likely to rain tomorrow?
Future continuous, future perfect
simple and future perfect continuous
We use the future continuous
• to talk about an action that will be in progress at a specific
point in the future.
At six o'clock tomorrow evening I'll be watching The X Factor
• to talk about planned events, or events that we expect to
happen. In this usage, it is similar to the present continuous
I'll be going to the shops later. Is there anything you need?
• to make polite enquiries. Using the future continuous instead
of the future simple to ask about somebody's plans makes
questions sound politer and less direct.
Can you let me know when you'll be leaving?
Future perfect simple
We use the future perfect simple to talk about a completed
action or event in the future.
By the time we get to the cinema, the film will have already
Future perfect continuous
We normally use the future perfect continuous to say how long
an action or event will have been in progress at a specific point
in the future.
By the end of this year, he'll have been learning English for nine
Future forms: will going to, present
continuous, present simple
• We use will to make factual statements about the future, and
to make predictions.
The sun will rise at 6.47 tomorrow morning.
Do you think you'll finish your homework before midnight?
. We use will for things we decide to do as we are speaking
(instant decisions, offers, promises).
That's the phone ringing. I'll answer it.
This bag is very heavy I'll carry it.
I'll ring you as soon as I get to London
. We use going to or the future continuous for things we have
already decided to do (intentions).
I'm going to visit my grandparents at the weekend.
I'll be visiting my grandparents at the weekend.
• We use going to to make a prediction based on present
Look at those clouds. It's going to rain.
We use the present continuous for things we have already
agreed to do, usually with somebody else (arrangements).
I'm playing football on Saturday afternoon.
We can use the present simple for timetabled and scheduled events.
What time does your train leave tomorrow?
The concert starts at 8 p.M. On Saturday.