Present tenses (I am doing / I do) for the future

Learn and practise the present continuous and the present simple (I am doing) with a future meaning.

A Present continuous (I am doing) with a future meaning

This is Ben’s diary for next week.

He is playing tennis on Monday aft ernoon.
He is going to the dentist on Tuesday morning.
He is meeting Kate on Friday.

In all these examples, Ben has already decided and arranged to do these things.

I’m doing something (tomorrow etc.) = I have already decided and arranged to do it:

  • a: What are you doing on Saturday evening? (not What do you do)
    b: I’m going to the cinema. (not I go)
  • a: What time is Katherine arriving tomorrow?
    b: Half past ten. We’re meeting her at the station.
  • I’m not working tomorrow, so we can go out somewhere.
  • Steve isn’t playing football next Saturday. He’s hurt his leg.

We do not normally use will to talk about what we have arranged to do:

  • What are you doing tonight? (not What will you do)
  • Alex is getting married next month. (not will get)

We also use the present continuous for an action just before you start to do it. This happens especially with verbs of movement (go/come/leave etc.):

  • I’m tired. I’m going to bed now. Goodnight. (not I go to bed now)
  • ‘Tina, are you ready yet?’ ‘Yes, I’m coming.’ (not I come)
B Present simple (I do) with a future meaning

We use the present simple when we talk about timetables and programmes (for example, transport or cinema times):

  • I have to go. My train leaves at 11.30.
  • What time does the film start tonight?
  • The meeting is at nine o’clock tomorrow.

You can use the present simple to talk about people if their plans are fixed like a timetable:

  • I start my new job on Monday.
  • What time do you finish work tomorrow?

But the continuous is more usual for other personal arrangements:

  • What time are you meeting Kate tomorrow? (not do you meet)


  • What time are you arriving? (Present continuous)
  • What time does the train arrive? (Present simple)
  • I’m going to the cinema this evening. (Present continuous)
  • The film starts at 8.15. (Present simple)

When you talk about appointments, lessons, exams etc., you can use I have or I’ve got:

I have an exam next week. or I’ve got an exam next week.