Tom: Are you doing anything this evening? Nick: Yes, I'm going to an ice hockey match.
The Tigers are playing the Kings.
I bought my ticket yesterday.
We use the present continuous for what someone has arranged to do in the future. Here Nick has arranged to go to the match. (He has bought a ticket.) Here are some more examples.
I'm meeting Harriet at six o'clock. David is coming round later on.
We're having a party tomorrow. Sarah is going to Paris next week.
We also use the present continuous to talk about things happening now (see Unit 4).
Present: We're having a party at the moment.
Future: We're having a party tomorrow.
Here the phrase of time shows whether we mean the present or the future. But sometimes there is no
phrase of time, as when Nick says The Tigers are playing the Kings. Here it is clear from Tom's question that
the conversation is about a future event.
The present continuous for the future and be going to (Unit 24A) have similar meanings. We're having a party next week. (We have made the arrangements.) We're going to have a party next week. (We intend / We have decided to have one.)
Often we can use either form.
I'm meeting/I'm going to meet Harriet at six o'clock.
B The present simple for a timetable
Mark: What time does your train leave tomorrow? Sarah: Seven twenty-three in the morning.
It gets into Paris at eleven twenty-three.
We can use the present simple for the future when we are talking about a timetable, usually a public one such as a train timetable.
The train leaves at seven twenty-three tomorrow morning.
The match starts at half past seven.
Next Friday is the thirteenth.
I've got the tour details here. We spend three days in Rome. Compare the present simple for repeated actions (see Unit 6A).
The train leaves at seven twenty-three every morning.
Be to and be about to
We use be to for a future event that is officially arranged. It is often used in news reports.
The Queen is to visit Portugal in November.
The Student Games are to take place in Melbourne next year. We could also use the present continuous here.
The Queen is visiting Portugal in November.
We use be about to for the very near future.
The plane is at the end of the runway. It is about to take off.
Do you want to say goodbye to our visitors? They're about to leave.
1 The present continuous (A)
Read the conversation and say if the verb refers to the present or the future.
Mark: (►) What are you reading, Claire?
Claire: Oh, it's a guidebook to Brazil. (1) I'm going there next month. (2) My sister and I are having a
holiday there. (3) I_m really looking forward to it. (4) We're spending three weeks in Rio. (5) So
I'm finding out about all the things we can do there.
► present 3
2 The present continuous for arrangements (A)
For each situation write a sentence with the present continuous. Use the verbs in brackets.
► Mike and Harriet have accepted an invitation to Tom's party next week, (go) They're going to Tom's party next week.
1 Laura has agreed to be in the office on Saturday, (work)
2 Claire has just bought a plane ticket to Cairo dated 15 May. (fly)
3 Mark has arranged a meeting with his boss at four o'clock this afternoon, (see)
4 Matthew and Daniel have booked a tennis court for tomorrow afternoon, (play)
3 Present tenses for the future (A-B)
Put the verbs into the present continuous or the present simple.
Emma: (►) Are you doing (you / do) anything tonight?
Matthew: Yes, (1) .. (1 / go) to the station to meet my friend Richard.
(2) (he / stay) here for the weekend, remember? His train
(3) ................. (get) in at eight fifteen.
Emma: Oh, of course. I'd forgotten about that.
Matthew: Maybe we'll see you later. What (4) .. (you / do) tonight?
Emma: Oh, (5) (I / go) to the cinema with Vicky and Rachel and a couple of
other people. The film (6) (finish) quite early, so
(7)............................................. (we / go) to a pizza place afterwards.
4 Be to and be about to (C)
Complete these sentences on the news. Some are spoken by the newsreader in the studio and some by reporters on the spot. Use be to or be about to with the verbs in brackets.
? The new museum is to open (open) in the autumn.
? The Prime Minister is at the microphone now. He is about to start (start) speaking.
1 The leading runner is nearly there now. She (win) the race.
2 Taxes . ...................... (go) up from next April.
3 The US President ...................................... (visit) Ireland in the new year.
4 The riot isn't over yet, but the police are here. They .. (move) in.
5 The talks on world trade ................................................ (take) place later this year.