In grammar, a future tense is a special verb form (inflection) that marks the event described by the verb as not having happened yet. Germanic languages like English have no future tense inflection, employing alternate mechanisms to indicate future events.

In grammar, a future tense is a verb form that marks the event described by the verb as not having happened yet, but expected to happen in the future (in an absolute tense system), or to happen subsequent to some other event, whether that is past, present, or future (in a relative tense system).

Strictly speaking, English has no future tense; mophologically it has only past and non-past, where the non-past is usually but not always taken as present. Among European languages, Romance langauges like Latin, French, and Spanish all have a true future tense, meaning a special inflexion of their verbs which indicates an event yet to transpire.

On the other hand, Germanic languages like English, German, and Dutch have no such verbal inflection, and so use various alternate mechanisms to express the future, including auxiliary verbs (modals) and adverbs of time. Here are some of the ways that English can use to express future time:

  • The thief dies tomorrow.
  • The thief is to die tomorrow.
  • The thief is going to die tomorrow.
  • The thief will die tomorrow.
  • The thief shall die tomorrow.

The last two examples, the ones using the modal auxialiaries will and shall, can operate in either the epistemic modality expressing likelihood or in the deontic modality expressing inescapability or demand.

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