English grammar can be really confusing, but perhaps the most difficult part is talking about the future. In IELTS, we don’t often deal with future tenses, but you might be required to talk about your future plans in IELTS speaking, so it is worth knowing a little about how to use these.

In this lesson, I will explain to you how to talk about the future in an accurate and interesting way so that you can ace your IELTS test. 😁

ielts future plans

The Future Tenses

In English, we have 12 tenses. You can think of these in terms of time:

  • Past
  • Present
  • Future

And then these are subdivided by perspective:

  • Simple
  • Perfect
  • Continuous
  • Perfect-continuous

This means that there are four future tenses:

  • Future simple
  • Future perfect
  • Future continuous
  • Future perfect-continuous

However, these are not all hugely important. We mostly use future simple and also present continuous. Yes, that’s right – present continuous. English can be so confusing…  

The present continuous is formed with “to be” and then the present participle. For example:

  • I am going…
  • She is doing
  • We are going…

If you want a full lesson about the future tenses, you can go here. You might also like this video:

Talking about Future Plans: IELTS Speaking

In part one of the IELTS speaking test, you might be asked about future plans. These will be quite general and you don’t really need to say much in response.

Here is an example:

Q: What job would you like to do in the future?

A: I would love to be a photographer. Right now it is just my hobby but I am taking a course and hopefully one day I can make it my full-time job.

So which of the future tenses did I use here…?

None! 😅

It’s strange, right? I have given a very good answer but I have not used any of our previously mentioned tenses. Instead, I have used modal verbs to show possibility.

The terms “would like/love to…” and “hopefully I can…” are really useful for talking about the future in IELTS. This is because we don’t actually know what will happen in the future. If I said, “I will be a photographer,” it is not guaranteed and so it is not a perfect answer.

Let’s see some more examples with those phrases:

  • I would like to open my own clothes store.
  • Hopefully I can find a job working for a charity.
  • I would love to do something that involves helping animals.
  • Hopefully I can gain the necessary qualifications to do that.
the future - ielts speaking

Speaking Part 2: Future Plans

Here is a sample cue card for IELTS speaking part two:

Describe a future plan which is not related to work or study. You should say

– what the plan is

– when you thought of the plan

– who is involved in the plan

And say how you think you will achieve the plan.

To answer this, you should first note the important part: This must be a future plan but it must not relate to work or study. This is a key part to note. Most of the obvious answers to this would involve work or study, so you have to think quickly to find something else to talk about.

For me, the plan would be travel because I love going to different places. I would think of a trip that I want to take, then imagine how I would describe it, and I would attempt to talk about those bullet points while doing so.

Sample Answer

Because of the current coronavirus situation, few people are able to travel. For me, this is a strange sensation. I usually travel every summer and winter, and so it feels a little strange to stay in the same place for so long. As such, I am planning a trip for when the pandemic ends.

This trip involves going down through Southeast Asia to Australia, then exploring that country for a few weeks before visiting New Zealand. I would love to go there and see the wildlife, especially the whales that live in the seas around the country. Hopefully I could manage to spend a few weeks there, too, staying in hostels, visiting friends, and travelling cheaply around the countryside. I think it would be a pretty amazing holiday.

I first thought of this plan a few years ago but of course it was just a loose idea that I put off for a long time. Now that the world has changed, I don’t often think about travel. It’s just too much of a temptation and the fact that it is impossible makes it a bit of a tease.

This plan would basically just involve me backpacking freely for a couple of months, so no one else would be involved, but I do hope to drop in on some friends that live “down under.” I’ll rely on them for hosting me and showing me around every now and then, but apart from that it will just be me on the road. It requires a lot of planning, courage, and saving, but I’m used to all of these things.


Look at the language I have used here. Did I often use future tenses? Not really, but I did sometimes. For example, I said “I’ll rely on them…” This is a contraction of “I will rely on them…”

Notice that when talking about my future plans, I said, “I am planning a trip…” This is what I meant by present continuous. It’s a great tense for talking about things that we really hope to do in future.

I also repeated my language from earlier: “I would love to go there…” Again, the inclusion of “would” means this is a hypothetical situation. It’s like saying “If I had the time and money then…”

I used similar language here: “Hopefully I could manage to spend a few weeks…” Again, this shows a lack of certainty, which is fine because we are talking about something that is impossible to know for sure.

Finally, I said, “I do hope to drop in on some friends…” When we use “I hope to…” it tells us that it is about the future and that it is also quite speculative. This sort of language tells the examiner that you have a good mastery of grammar, allowing you to talk about the future in very careful ways.