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We have covered the past tenses. So now let’s look, and move, forward to the future! There are a number of future tenses, which means there are a number of ways to report.

Original statements using the future auxiliaries will, won’t and may are reported using the auxiliaries would, wouldn’t and might.

Idiomatic future and the present continuous tense (which can be used to talk about future plans) use the auxiliary verb ‘to be’ in the present (am/is/are). When reporting, the auxiliary verb ‘to be’ changes to the past form (was/were). Think Back to the Future.

Examples:

Original Statement: “We are going to play football in the park this weekend.” (Idiomatic future)

Reported Statement: “He said they were going to play football in the park that weekend.”

Original Statement: “I will not be able to attend the meeting.” (Simple future with ‘Will’.)

Reported Statement: “She told me she wouldn’t be able to attend the meeting.”

Original Statement: “We will be participating in the protests this Saturday.” (Future continuous with ‘Will’.)

Reported Statement: “He said that they would be participating in the protests that Saturday.

Original Statement: “They will have finished their exams by the end of July next year.” (Future perfect)

Reported Statement: He told me that they would have finished their exams by the end of July the following year.”

Original Statement: “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

Reported Statement: He said that where they were going, they didn’t need roads. (Present continuous to talk about a future idea.)

As always, we need to be sure to change pronouns and time expressions accordingly. Here are some examples of future time expressions and how to report them.

Activity

Time to apply our knowledge to a real-world context again. Here, you can repeat the activity from the Perfect Tenses topic by watching an interview with a person you admire. Try to find one this time where they are talking about their future plans.

Alternatively, think about the last meeting you had at work, or the last time you spoke to your friends. What was said about the future? What plans and goals did people mention?

Allow yourself 20-30 minutes to write down what was said and practise reporting it using sequence of tenses.

Practise with an English teacher by booking a lesson.