FUTURE (11) : FUTURE IN THE PAST

Future in the past is used where a speaker wishes to refer to a past time at which a particular event was still in the future, even though now, at the moment of speaking, it is past. It is frequently used where some anticipated event may occur or an expectation is cancelled. Consider these examples:

1) Kim was going to tell her parents her plan, but they didn’t give her the chance.
2) I thought we were going to have chicken-adobo for dinner tonight.
3) They rang to say they would be with us by 11 o’clock, but their flight was cancelled.
4) The last time I saw Jenny, she was leaving for a new job in Chicago the following day.
5) We were just starting our lesson when the fire alarm went off.


There are two ways to form the future in the past. One way is to use “was/were going to”, as in:

Examples:

Tommy was going to go to the concert last Saturday, when we met him.
When Sean heard that Karyl was going to leave Britain to start a new life in Canada, he was quite upset.
I had the feeling that the camping was going to be a disaster, so I decided not to go along.
We thought that a delicious dinner was going to be made by Sally.


You can also use “would” to form the future in the past. Use “would” when you are talking about something in the past that someone promised or volunteered to do.

Examples:

Jimmy said he would call when he arrived in Manila.
Sandy promised she would send a postcard from Australia.
I already told Allain that when we arrived, we would go out for dinner with his Mommy.

Perfect forms of “be going to” are also possible, as in:

Examples:

Tony has been going to study German for two years, but he has just found time now.
They have been going to construct a new wing to the hospital for a long time, but they got to do it only this year.
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