Poll: Does English have a future tense?

Does English have a future tense?


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This Poll:

  • Votes: 1,072
  • Comments: 15
  • Added: August 2003





This very website told me it doesn't.

Andy HB

Englsih does not have a future tense in the strict sense of the word. Unlike other languages, there is no verb form that indicates future meaning (in the same way thet '-ed' indicates the past tense. rather there are 12 or so forms of construction to indicate the future - from the use of the auxiliaries 'will' or 'going to', to the the present simple or continuous with a future time adverb - such as 'tomorrow, next week, ...'.


We can talk about future time easily enough, but I'd say we use the present tense to do that, and also the past tense for unlikely or imaginary futures.


There is no clear answer to this question because there is no universal definition of "tense".If regarded as purely about verb inflexions, there is only one tense in English. If the adding of auxilliary verbs constitutes a tense, then there are many, including a future tense.


English has only 4 definite tenses: Simple present and past tenses plus Simple present and past perfect tenses and those that derive from them.if you feel like calling them tenses, be my guest. I won't count them. The rest are modal verbs.


Willbut, you could be right.


Jotter Scalems

I voted yes. I compared to Japanese.
I call you=>I'll call you tomorrow
denwa o kakeru=> ashita (tomorrow) denwa o kakeru.

I vote against shortsighted language scientists, who are giving people wrong impressions by denying that their langauge has a future tense if there is a change in verbal use in their language when they talk about the future.


No. Perhaps I'm one of those "shortsighted language scientists" Jotter mentions, but there is no verbal inflection meaning "future" in English. Instead, we talk about the future using a variety of verb forms including present tense (simple, progressive) and certain modal auxiliaries (not only will) combined with another verb. This is the view taken by such weighty authorities as Quirk et al. (1985) and Huddleston & Pullam (2002).


though many controversaries arised that english doesnt have future tense..but it has with the modal support of will....


dumbasses of course english has a future tense... just say "will" or "going to". for future imperfect you can write "shall". there i have proven english has a futer tense, i am right and currently 187 of you are monkeys.

Not as good as the hype

The future imperfect is will/shall + be + -ing, so your claims to have proved anything are shaky, well, wrong.


Our reliance on Latin as a model for grammar is one possible reason for this need to describe English as having a future tense.
It is true that 'will' indicates futurity, but in some cases, 'will' cannot be used. Also, most languages have some way of indicating futurity. It becomes useless trying to analyse languages if we have a preconceived notion that every language has a future tense in some form.
While 'will' indicates futurity, it behaves grammatically like a modal verb, and we should treat it as such. English only has 2 inflected tense forms (the past tense '-ed' form, and present tense [which has no visible suffix]). It is better to treat English as having a Past and Non-Past tense.

Also, aspectual distinctions, like perfect, imperfect, progressive, etc
are not tenses.
'past imperfect' is a tense in its own right if the verb has a distinct ending from, say, 'past perfect', or 'present imperfect'. Given that English uses an auxiliary verb, English has no grammatical aspect either -- even if it has other ways of indicating it.


If it has a name therefore it is!!!! Future tense, compound noun, but a noun none the less.


Just because English has no verbal inflections for future tense, that doesn't mean we don't have it.

Tense has nothing to do with verbal inflections. Present tense, for example, can be used to refer to a future event (which is called the 'futurate' by Huddleston and Pullum [2002]). We can also use it to talk about a past event, which is called 'historal present'. Also, present tense can be used to talk about a general phenomenon—which logically has no tense (e.g. The sky is blue). The sky was blue yesterday, is blue now, and will be blue tomorrow. Messrs Huddleston and Pullum themselves admit that present tense can be used timelessly!

So YES, English does have future tense even though we don't have any infectional forms as markers.

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