How to indicate the future tense in Japanese?

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One of the frightening things when studying Japanese is the fact that there is no future tense in verbs. Verbs are conjugated only in the present and past tense. So the big question remains: How can I indicate the future? How do I know if a sentence is indicating the future? In this article these questions will be answered.

In reality, verbs are conjugated in the future tense yes, the problem is that the basic form of all verbs is present and future tense at the same time. So it is by the context of the sentence that you will know if a sentence is in the present or future. Japanese verbs are always ending the sentence, and in a large number of these sentences the verb does not need to be conjugated.

Why is there no future tense in Japanese?

This is a complicated answer to answer. But if we stop to think, isn't the present time always in motion? It is easier to ask why there are so many verb tenses many different.

The Japanese verb in its simple form does not indicate either the present or the future. It can indicate anything like, an action that is going to happen, that is repeated, that happens regularly, at a certain time, in the future, etc.

To indicate that an action is taking place at this present moment, we must use its progressive form teiru [ている]. So it is more correct to say that there is no present tense and the simple form is the future tense.

How to indicate the future tense in Japanese?

In English, you must have heard someone using a verb from the present tense in a sentence that indicates the future (Example: I come tomorrow). In fact, the verb is almost never necessary to indicate the time of the action, always the context or some word of the sentence will indicate this.

Japanese uses adverbs, intent, and other indications to show that the action is going to happen in the future or at a certain time. See some examples of verb conjugations below:

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Past映画を見たhey wo mitaI watched a movie
Now映画を見ているhey wo miteiruWatching a movie
not future映画を見るhey wo miruWatch a movie
Invitation映画を見ようhey wo lookedLet's see a movie
Intention映画を見るだろうhey wo mirudarouyou will see the movie
Tomorrow明日は映画を見るashita wa eiga wo mirusee the movie tomorrow
I aim映画を見るつもりeiga wo miru tsumoriI want to see a movie

The verb [見る] can be translated as see, watch, look...

How to indicate the future tense in Japanese?

Indicating future in Japanese language

You can use the adverbs of time or dates and times to indicate when an action is taken. You can use words like tomorrow, next year, next week, at a certain time, in the future.

You can indicate an intention to take a certain action, such as: I intend to tsumori [つもり], or use the volitional form of the verb. Or indicate that you are thinking using the verb omou [思え].

Another way to tell if a sentence is in the future is by the context of the sentence. If someone asks you, what are you going to do tomorrow or later? You can simply reply with a sentence using the simple form of the verb (not past tense). It is obvious that you are indicating an action in the future.

See the examples below:

Responsive Table: Scroll the table to the side with your finger >>
私は四時に来るWatashi wa yo-ji ni kuruI come at four
明日はいい天気でしょうAshita wa ī tenkideshouTomorrow the weather will be fine
あなたは来年篠山に住むつもりですか。Anata wa rainen Sasayama ni sumu tsumoridesu ka. You will live in Sasayama next year.
その仕事にすぐ慣れるだろう。Sono shigoto ni sugu narerudarou. You will soon get used to work.
今日仕事が終わったら、僕らみんなで野球するんだ。Kyō shigoto ga owattara, bokura min'na de yakyū suru nda. Let's play baseball today after work.
今晩何も食べないKonban nani mo tabenai I won't eat anything tonight / Don't eat anything tonight
夏休みに日本へ行こうと思っています。Natsuyasumi ni Nihon e ikou to omotte imasu. I'm thinking of going to Japan for the summer vacation.
映画に行くつもりです。Eiga ni iku tsumoridesu. I'm going to the cinema.
私達の先生は8月に外国から帰ってきます。Watashitachi no sensei wa rokugatsu ni gaikoku kara kaette kimasu. Our teacher will be back from abroad in August.
将来は、ジャーナリストになりたいと思っています。Shōrai wa, jānarisuto ni naritai to omotte imasu. In the future, I would like to be a journalist.
十時半の電車に乗ります。Jū-jihan no densha ni norimasu.You take the 10:30 train.

We note the use of deshou [でしょう] indicating a hunch, guess, or speculation. 

It's easy to get used to the fact that verbs don't have a definite future or present tense. Over time you won't even miss it or see any difference in your day to day when speaking and studying Japanese. I hope this article has helped you understand why there is no future tense in Japanese verbs and how to adapt to it.

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