Unit 3.1

Future in the Past


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Introduction

Future in the past is the tense used when we are talking about the past and we want to refer to something which was in the future at that time.

Form

Future in the past structures are the past forms of will and to be going to.

Future in the past of will

Future in the past of the verb will has the form would.

It has the following structure:
Subject + would + verb + …

Future in the past of be going to

Future in the past of the form be going is formed with the past simple of the verb to be.

It has the following structure:
Subject + was/were + going to + verb + …

Example

  • They told me that they would ask for the bills.
  • The owner said that she would take care of the clients.
  • I knew the manager was going to make an offer to me.
  • I read that the workshops were going to be open for 24 hours.
  • Many workers were going to ask for a raise.

Use

We use future in the past when we are in the past but we want to talk about something that would happen in the future.

We use:

  • would for voluntary actions and promises;
  • was/were going to for plans.

Summary

We use future in the past when we are in the past but we want to talk about something that would happen in the future at that time.

The structure for will in the past is: we start with the subject followed by would and a verb in its base form.

The structure for to be going to in the past is: we start with the subject followed by was or where followed by going to and a verb in its base form.

For example:
— “My brother told me that he would order some products from internet.” = We are talking about a future action but in a past tense, that is why we use future in the past, and will becomes would.
— “The businessman said that he was going to invest in international trade next year.” = Businessman talked about a future plan in the past and that is why we used be going to in the past form.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

Exercises

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