When you make predictions in English, we generally use WILL, COULD, and MIGHT to express probability. However, it is easy to confuse the use of will, could, and might with the present continuous for the future to talk about future actions and plans.
Please click on the image below to see how we use will, could, and might to make predictions:
Journalist: What do you think will happen to the economy next year?
Economist: I think the economy will improve around the world. (The person thinks the economy is sure to improve.)
Journalist: Do you think there will be a recession before the economy improves?
Economist: Some countries in Europe could experience a recession. (There is a possibility.) However, the US economy will pick up (improve).
Journalist: What do you think will happen to the eurozone?
Economist: The eurozone might break up (separate) because of weak economies in certain countries. (The break up is not probable and the economist does not know if it will happen. The economist is not sure.)
Now, let's compare making predictions and the use of the present continuous for the future:
Julie: Hey Terry, what are you doing this weekend? (Use the present continuous to ask about someone's plans.)
Terry: I am going on vacation. We are going to Los Angeles to see my parents! (Terry made plans to go to Los Angeles and bought his plane tickets. That is why we use the present continuous to talk about future plans and actions. He is not expressing probability or possibility about a future action or event.)
Julie: Really? That is great! When are you leaving?
Terry: We are leaving on Saturday morning. I think our flight will be on time, so we will have time in the afternoon to go to the beach and enjoy the sun.
Julie: What are you going to do in Los Angeles?
Terry: I am going to a barbecue at my uncle's house on June 29. I am also having lunch with my friend, Mike, at his parents' house on June 30. (Going to a barbecue and having lunch are future plans and actions.) I might go bicycling with him in the afternoon, but I am not sure yet (I have not decided yet). I know I am going to eat a lot of food, so I am going to run three days a week. I could also go bicycling and walking in the Santa Monica Mountains. (Bicycling and walking are future possibilities.)
Julie: Have a wonderful trip!
To sum up (summarize, recapitulate), we use WILL, COULD, and MIGHT to make predictions and express probability:
- Subject + Will / Could / Might + Verb (Infinitive)
- Will is the most probable and expresses a sure prediction about future events and actions.
- Could expresses a future possibility (or different possibilities) about future events and actions.
- Might is the least certain and probable. We use might when you are not sure or you do not know what will happen in the future.
- Always use the present continuous when you talk about a future plan and action. We only use will, could, and might to make predictions and talk about probability.
What is the difference between might and may?
We generally use might in conversation and may in more formal writing and business contexts.
PRACTICE AND THINK IN ENGLISH
Look at the photo below:
- What do you think will happen to the plane and the people on the beach?
Use will, could, and might to make predictions and answer the question.
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