Grammar: talking about the future

Examples – verb forms used to talk about the future

Example sentence
Verb form
1.     I think it’ll rain
future with will
2.     He's standing right at the edge.
He's wobbling! He's going to fall!
be going to + base form
prediction (based on evidence)
3.     I'm seeing the dentist later.
present continuous
decisions already made,
unlikely to change
(diary future)
4.     I'm going to explore the
other side of the island later.
be going to + base form
decisions already
5.     No, hang on a minute, I'll
the apple pie.
future with will
decisions made now
6.     The government will make a final decision in the next week or two.
future with will
future as fact
7.     This year, Ramadan starts in July.
present simple
future as fact
(timetable future)
8.     I'll carry that for you.
I won't tell anybody what you said.
future with will
offers, promises

Summary of each form’s uses

Verb form
future with will
·      prediction
·      decisions made now
·      offers, promises
·      future as fact
be going to
·      decisions already made
·      predictions (based on evidence)
present continuous
·      decisions already made,
unlikely to change
(diary future)
present simple
·      future as fact
(timetable future)

British Council summary of ways to talk about the future

Generally, if you can use a different way to talk about the future, you should avoid 'will'.

go, come, leave, meet, have
usually use the present continuous, not going to.

we often use the simple future tense if the main verb is be, even if we have a firm plan or arrangement. 
Examples:??I'll be in London tomorrow. 
I'm going shopping. I won't be very long. 
??Will you be at work tomorrow?

verb patterns with infinitive or -ing
hope to 
plan to 
intend to
due to
to be about to
think of + -ing
NB SOME of THESE VERBS are commonly used in the present continuous:
I'm thinking of going to America to study.
I'm planning to...
I'm hoping to...
BUT NOT I intend to           I'm due to         I'm about to                    (state)  

future time clauses
after when, as soon as, in case, after..
+ present simple

often used with think/expect

may, might, could... + base form

be likely to + base form 
probably, certainly, definitely...

to talk about the future as fact is quite an unusual way of thinking ?about things to come - not many things are that certain!
A few good examples are:
Sunrise will be at 6.30 a.m. tomorrow.
My birthday will be on a Sunday this year. (OR "My birthday's on a Sunday this year.")

The Government will start talks with the unions tomorrow.

For the future continuous, and future perfect (simple/continuous) see:
(go to the links for how to form and how to use these tenses)