Sometimes when we are talking about past events, we want to refer to something that was in the future at that time. Sian's here to show you five forms you can use talk about the future in the past - and she's going to take you back to the past to do this!
For more, visit our website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/course/towards-advanced/unit-15/session-1
Hi Sian here for BBC Learning English - today is an exciting day because we are going to go back to the past and look at the future!
So, you know that we have a past tense, a present tense, lots of future forms, but did you know we also have the future in the past?
When we talk about the past, sometimes we want to talk about something that was in the future at that time - to do this we put the future forms into the past. I'm going to show you some examples of this and I'm going to take you back to the past to do this...
Am/is/are going to becomes was/were going to
(Earlier today... "It's such a nice day today - I'm going to go for a run at lunchtime!")
Ah I was going to go for a run today, but I'm feeling a bit tired now!
So, when we want to use the future in the past with 'going to', 'I am going to' becomes 'I was going to' - ''I was going to go for a run''. We can use this for predictions or intentions that change, like my intention to go for a run, or for things that did happen. So, "I knew it was going to be sunny today!"
Pay attention to the pronunciation though - 'I was going to' when we speak quickly becomes 'I was gonna'. "I was gonna go for a run today, but I'm gonna have lunch instead''
Present continuous becomes past continuous
(Earlier today: "I've got to go, I'm meeting Neil at 10 o'clock.")
"Sorry I was in a rush earlier, I was meeting Neil at 10 o'clock and I didn't want to be late."
So, we use the present continuous to talk about arrangements in the future. When we want to talk about the future in the past, this becomes becomes the past continuous. So, for example, "I was meeting a friend for lunch so I was in a hurry."
We can also use for arrangements that didn't happen, but you intended them to happen.
Will becomes would
(Earlier today: "I've got to go Neil, I'll call you back later.")
"Oh I told Neil I would call him later... I need to do that!"
When referring to the future in the past will becomes would - "I said I'd call Neil." Remember we normally contract would to 'd.
Am/are/is about to becomes was/were about to
"Oh hang on a minute... I was about to call you Neil! No honestly, I was just about to call you."
So, when we talk about the future - something that's going to happen in a short time, we use am about to "I'm about to call Neil". When we want to use this structure to talk about the future in the past, am about to becomes was about to. I was about to call Neil when he phoned me.
Future perfect becomes would + have + past participle
(Earlier today: "I think I'll have finished all my work by lunchtime.")
"Ah it's almost lunchtime, I thought I'd have finished all my work by now... but it's taking ages!"
So, when we talk about the future in the past using the future perfect, the future perfect form will have + past participle becomes would have + past participle. So, 'I will have finished' becomes 'I would have finished'. Pay attention to the contractions again, so instead of saying I would have, when we're speaking we say I'd've. 'I thought I'd've made more money by now!'
Now, I was going to tell you all to go to our website bbclearningenglish.com for more information about the future in the past and to practise this... but you all know that already so I don't need to tell you! See you soon - Bye!
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