Today we will cover tenses in English conversation. If you don’t know what an English tense is, then jump right in as we explain it in the lesson. If you know about the 12 English language tenses, then you probably know it can be difficult using them in English conversation, and this lesson explains why and how to use English language tenses properly.
In most languages there is a subtlety that allows you to convey much more information if you say words in just the right way, English is no different. Today we discuss how you might tell someone in an everyday English conversation what your plans are for your evening meal.
Sounds nice and easy on the face of it but there may be more information in what your hearing, if you know what you are looking for when you hear the words in a conversation. In some ways this level of understanding shows you are progressing to the next level of English language fluency.
If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.
⭐ Winston Churchill, British Statesman
As always, the best way to absorb the information, and store it in your longer term memory, is to listen to the podcast lesson several times. Repeat listening is an important part of the learning process, not only to help you with remembering the information contained within the lesson but also to give you lots of practice hearing the differences in the words and language used.
curry tenses apostrophe
|I will have||8|
|was going to||8|
|will have been||7|
|in the future||7|
|I’m going to||5|
Hi there and welcome to this podcast from Adept English. Some things in English are easier than in other languages, so they’re not a problem. Nouns for instance. They don’t change their form in English. The most you’ll have to deal with is an apostrophe ‘s on the end of a word to show possession, to show that something belongs to someone. So an example of that would be ‘my dog’s nose’. The apostrophe ‘s on the end of ‘dog’ tells us that it’s ‘his nose’. And to a large extent, verbs in English are easy too. They don’t change much – so the basic word which forms the verb, doesn’t change.
There aren’t lots of verb endings to learn, like there are in some other European languages. So ‘I speak, you speak, he, she or it speaks, we speak, you speak, they speak’. They only thing you have to remember there is to put the ‘s’ on the end of ‘he, she or it speaks’, the third person singular part of the verb. So in that way, verbs are simple.
However, the problem with verbs in English is more about getting the tense right. There are supposed to be 12 tenses in English. If you don’t know what a tense is – T-E-N-S-E – then ‘I am eating’ is present continuous tense, ‘I eat’ is simple present tense – and ‘I will eat’ is simple future tense. So the tense of a verb tells you when the action takes place. Have I done it already, am I doing it now – or is it an action in the future? So ‘I am eating’, ‘I eat’ and ‘I will eat’ – these are the tenses that you learn in your English class.
However, there are lots of ways in English to talk about the future, lots of other ways to indicate future tense. So ‘I will eat tonight’ is a very simple form and is familiar learning. English conversations however, use lots of other ways of talking about the future. And they have slightly different meanings. Let me give you some examples of this in this podcast today of forms of the future tense that you’ll meet in daily English conversation.
Before I do that, let me first remind you of our course, Course One: Activate Your Listening. This course is for you, if you find the podcasts a bit of a challenge and you’d like to increase your vocabulary and use a more structured way of learning English. Conversations are included in the course, with different speakers doing English conversation dialogues, so that you can improve your understanding and improve speaking. It’s over five hours long, and it provides more structured material for your learning than do the podcasts. Go to our website at adeptenglish.com, where you can buy Course One today!
Suppose you ask me the following simple question “What are you doing for dinner tonight?”? I might give you any one of the following replies, all of them in the future, but using different verb forms. The answer is that my plan is to have a curry, by the way, C-U-R-R-Y. So I could respond with the following English conversation examples:-
‘Oh, I’ll get curry on the way home.’ Of course, the ‘I’ll’ here may mean “I shall get curry on the way home’. Or ‘I’ll’ could also mean – ‘I will get curry on the way home’ – so that’s a little bit more definite than ‘I shall’, as though there’d been some doubt about it, and now I’ve decided. So if I say ‘I’ll get curry on the way home’, the person listening might conclude that I’d just decided spontaneously as you asked me the question. So that’s simple future.
Or I could respond with ‘I’m going to get curry on the way home’. This tends to mean ‘I’ve thought about it previously and I’ve already got that plan in mind’. ‘I’m going to, you’re going to, he is going to’ plus the verb – it’s a really easy way to do future tense, when you want to express an intention, something that a person plans to do.
Or I could respond with ‘I’m getting curry on the way home.’. So this is present continuous – and it indicates here an action in the future that’s my fixed plan, my fixed intention – I’ve already decided and I’m fixed in that. So present continuous with a future meaning is a fixed plan, it’s not easily going to change.
Or I could respond with ‘I was going to get curry on the way home.’ So that’s using the ‘going to’ construct again, to show intention – but you’ve changed it from ‘I’m going to’ to ‘I was going to’ – showing that perhaps the intention has changed or is changing. ‘I had decided what I was going to eat tonight, but I may now change my mind’.
Note that you can also use this ‘was going to’ in the past tense, when the action is completed so (or not completed, perhaps) – so ‘Yesterday I was going to get a curry on the way home, but I changed my mind and had Chinese’ So here everything’s in the past tense. So as here, you can use it to show a past intention which wasn’t fulfilled. ‘I was going to do some gardening, but it rained, so I didn’t’! Or a future intention which may not be fulfilled ‘I was going to do some gardening, but I think it’s going to rain, so maybe I won’t’.
So the original question was ‘What are you doing for dinner tonight?’ So some more spoken English conversation examples, using future tense, you might respond by saying;-
‘I have curry on a Thursday. It is delivered to my house at 8pm.’ So this is using a simple present tense to show I have a fixed arrangement – it’s part of my schedule, it’s a regular plan. So simple present with a future meaning – like ‘the train doesn’t leave for another 20 minutes’ – again a fixed arrangement, which we use present tense for, but which is happening in the future.
I also could respond to this question with ‘I’ll be getting curry tonight.’ So this is the future continuous tense – which shows a temporary action or event which will be in progress at a particular point, at a particular time in the future. It can also be used to show your intention in contrast to someone else’s intention – ‘I’ll be getting Indian food, and you’ll be getting Chinese.’ Or it could be in contrast to what you ate the previously evening. So ‘Last night, I ate Chinese, but tonight I’ll be getting Indian’. Another example ‘Next April, I’ll be living in France’ meaning ‘as opposed to living here, in the UK’, perhaps – so again a temporary action which will be happening by a particular point in the future. So that’s future continuous tense.
‘I’ll be eating curry tonight’ would be another example of future continuous tense – which might mean ‘When you arrive at my house at 9 o’clock, I will be eating curry’.
Another response I could give, which uses a future tense would be ‘I’ll have eaten curry tonight’. This is the future perfect tense. So you might use this tense to say ‘If you come to my house at 10 o’clock tonight, I will have eaten my curry.’ So you’re meaning here, that by the time 10pm comes, my eating of curry will be complete. Another example – ‘By Wednesday next week, I’ll have finished the project I’m working on.’ Or ‘I’ll have taken my driving test by next Wednesday’ – I will have taken my driving test on Tuesday – so by Wednesday the driving test will be a completed action.
And the last example of future tense, I’m going to cover today – what about this one? ‘I will have been eating curry tonight.’ Well, this is the future imperfect – so ‘I will have been eating curry tonight’. You might use this tense to say ‘At that point in time, 10pm, my curry eating will have been continuing for some time. I may have finished by the time you arrive, or I may still be eating. But the action of eating curry will at that point have been happening for a while. So perhaps ‘Don’t bother bringing any pudding – as I’ll be too full too eat it!’ So that’s ‘I will have been eating curry tonight’.
A photograph of some decorative clocks which suggest plans for a time in the future used to help explain English tenses.
Another example ‘Next April, I will have been living in France for six months.’ So this means when we arrive at that point next April, I’ll be able to say then ‘I’ve been living in France for six months now – and I’m continuing to live in France’. But because it’s still in the future, you would instead say ‘I will have been living in France for six months’.
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Now this is a really quick run-through, some possible ways of doing the future tense, which you’ll hear learning English. Conversations about the future give all sorts of other information, like ‘how fixed is your intention?’, ‘when did you make your plan?’. So this is just to show you that there’s more to the future tense in English than ‘I will, you will, he will.’ There are a lot of different ways of talking about the future, particularly if you’re stating your intention, when you learn everyday English.
As I say, this is a quick ‘run-through’. If you want me to cover this in more detail, let me know!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.