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Natives & Tenses: Chapter 10. Future 3: Predictions

[All information copyrighted to EnglishAdam.com]

Future 3: Predictions
Another common topic when talking about the FUTURE is PREDICTIONS!

And just to be clear, what are Predictions?

I guess Predictions are events, actions, in the Future that are not... not true now and out of our hands to directly control.

Click me!

Yes, however... that would include (some of) THE PLANS WE MAKE!
Is that a problem? Are Plans a type of Prediction?

Possibly yes!
When we say our plans, we are kind of predicting our future.
The part of our future where we hope to have control!

Click me!

So Plans and Predictions are not comletely separate ideas.
However when we use the word 'PREDICT' what are we emphasizing about this future action or event?

I think it is that it is UNKNOWN and not part of reality yet, THEORETICAL.

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So if an action is UNKNOWN or THEORETICAL, does it exist to us?

No. To us it is hidden/not real.

Click me!

So we wouldn't communicate that the action has started or exists now because...

...this means we know it is true. That it is real.

Click me!

So if we are making a Prediction...
And Predictions are like Plans...
And for Plans we use what Tenses/Structures?


Click me!

Which Tenses/Structures include the idea that the ACTION has ALREADY STARTED (in the past)?

(Going to, has the action 'planned' but 'unstarted')

Click me!

What is the implication for making Predictions??

That we cannot make predictions using the PRESENT SIMPLE or PRESENT CONTINUOUS, because then they are no longer PREDICTIONS!!!
It is strange to say:
Oh next week it is raining.
Next year Italy wins the World Cup.
They are no longer Predictions because we are inferring the action is known to us and has started!!

Click me!

So what Tenses/Structures do we use for Predictions?

And obviously they have different meanings and uses.....!

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In summary of previous sections, we can see that GOING TO is...

...when we want to communicate that there is an IDEA IN THE PAST (eg an intention) that INDICATES A FUTURE EVENT will happen.
So there is the idea that something is ON THE WAY (='GOING TO') to start that action.

Click me!

And then if we look at WILL, in 'PRACTICAL' that indicates...

A new plan.
A future fact.
Plus its use as a modal.

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And in 'ABSTRACT' terms we could say that it communicates...

...there is 'NO BEFORE/PREVIOUS'.

Click me!

So if we look at PREDICTIONS, and we are using either WILL or GOING TO, then we can see the big difference between the two is...

Is there some 'INTENTION' the prediction is to occur?
Is there nothing we can infer before it occurs?

Click me!

There are three main types of PREDICTIONS...any ideas?

1 Predictions based on External Evidence
2 Predictions based on Facts
3 Predictions based on Opinion

Any idea which use GOING TO? Which use WILL?

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A PREDICTION based on OBSERVABLE DATA would include:
- Statistics
- Visible Actions
- Something TANGIBLE.
So for example:
I look up and I see a BIG DARK GRAY CLOUD...
It isn't raining now. But soon perhaps...What do I say?
It _______ (to rain).

It's going to rain.
In a way the sky has the INTENTION of doing this action.
Or we can say:
Look out! That is going to fall! (the object is on the edge of the table)
You are not studying enough, you are going to fail your exams. (the amount of study is little)
He's going to die alone in 50 years. (he isn't very nice or friendly to others)
These are all things we have seen, or experienced in some way.

Click me!

The SECOND Category is Predictions Based on Fact:
[Remember we talked about what is a 'Fact'...it is something "always true","unchangeable by us"]
So as an example.
We know that paper burns, it is a 'fact'.
So I have a candle in one hand, and a piece of paper in the other.
If I move the paper to the candle's flame, what happens to the paper?
"The paper _______ (to burn)."

The paper WILL burn.
Here we predict with certainty the action (so GOING TO, the 'intention' is not the best choice)
and that that the RESULT, the PREDICTION, is guaranteed.
Because it is a FACT.
GOING TO is indeed possible, and is valid because it is observable.
However WILL communicates more CERTAINTY, if that is your wish.
More examples:
Your ice cream will melt in the sun.
The lioness will attack anyone who goes near her cubs.
Notice that in these examples there is little observational data.
It is based on things we 'know', Facts.

The 3rd type of PREDICTION are Predictions Based on Opinion.
So for example:
I think Ireland _____ (to win) the Rugby World Cup.

I think Ireland WILL WIN the Rugby World Cup.
This is my opinion, and as such between NOW and the PREDICTED EVENT there is nothing.
My opinions about the FUTURE, just sit there in FUTURE time.
The speaker is acknowledging that there is no concrete 'BEFORE'.
Some more examples:
Well, he will probably be angry when he sees this mess.
I reckon she will arrive on time.
There are some things to note here....

Click me!

Firstly, we are using WILL for 'CERTAIN' Predictions and 'OPINIONS'... two very different motives.
So in practice what do we add to Predictions based on Opinion?

We often add phrases like:
I think...
According to me...
In my opinion...
I hope ...
If you ask me...
These all help the listener understand that we are not pompously predicting with certainty and that it is just our opinion!

Click me!

Secondly, why might be prefer to use WILL here?
She's very intelligent, so she will know the answer!
Why not GOING TO?

Because her 'intelligence' is NOT observable or tangible.
It is an opinion of her, giving a further opinion about the future.
So the Prediction truly is based on Opinion!!

Click me!

Thirdly, we can see how SOME CONDITIONAL USES are naturally similar to PREDICTIONS!
IF's are hypothetical situations, and then we predict the result!
If you invite her, she will come!
(That's my opinion)
So what about...?
If you invite her, she's going to come!
(woah there Adam this is not a 'textbook' conditional, more on this in Part 17!!)

All it means is that the speaker has some observable data (perhaps the girl said/wrote that she would come if invited)
So the speaker is predicting based on observable data, not their opinion!

Click me!

Let's end with a couple of examples:
When we talk about the weather this weekend, what STRUCTURE do we use?
And what about a professional weather forecaster?

Well, we might use WILL because it's just our opinion, we 'feel' it.
Possibly GOING TO because of the forecast on TV, or some other observable information!
A professional forecaster could use...
...GOING TO, because they have seen the clouds from the satellite.
...WILL, as an opinion because they don't feel certain.
AND WILL as a FACT!! Because they 'know' with their studies that the weather they are predicting is GUARANTEED!

Click me!

So yet again the choice of TENSE reflects the Speaker's...

(Not the action itself)

Click me!

A final example:
Italy are playing a football match against San Marino, a very small country.
Italy ______(to win) the match.

If it is just our opinion....
(I think) Italy WILL WIN.
If we are looking at the teamsheet of players, and we see that Italy are professionals and San Marino are butchers, teachers etc
Then with this OBSERVABLE DATA we say...
If Italy has played San Marino a 100 times, and never lost, we might FEEL it is a FACT, and so...

Click me!

[Sourced: EnglishAdam.com]

Test Your Knowledge!


Which of the 4 Tenses/Structures commonly used for the future include the idea that the ACTION has ALREADY STARTED?
Present Simple
Present Continuous
Going To

Theory Test

Click to show


Present Simple
Present Continuous


Click to show


No specific notes on this question yet, sorry.



Practice Your Knowledge!

Cards coming soon!


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