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In the following sentence, which phrase should be used, in future or in the future.

Please be punctual in future/in the future.

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The most idiomatic way is with the article, at least in North American English. That's how it's always said when talking about an event that's going to happen at a future time unless it's headlinese (the terse, abbreviated style of language used in news article titles, e.g. Kaamatan festival to improve in future - Infra Development Minister):

Please be punctual in the future.

Please try to be more considerate in the future.

No one can say with absolute certainty what's going to happen in the future.

I don't think I've ever heard a person from North America use that other version without the article: in future. I can't say for sure, but it might be used in British English. Let's wait and see what a British person will say about this. Though, from my experience, I don't think there has ever been an occasion where I've heard a person even from Great Britain or Australia say in future in normal conversational English. My advice to you, stick with in the future. That's what most people say.

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    Interesting hearing from an AmE standpoint and "headlinese". As a British person we always (from what I have observed) would say "in future" referring to "from now on" unless you are referring to a specific point in time – Chris Rogers May 31 '18 at 6:14
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No difference whatsoever. AmE is fond of using articles! So, you find the in it! On the other hand, BrE would have it as in future.

You use in future when saying what will happen from now on, which will be different from what has previously happened. The form in the future is sometimes used instead, especially in American English.

Reference to this is Collins Dictionary

Another reference I found useful is here on BTB. It says when you add the article the idea of the action begins at this point of time is absent! It also defines it in Canadian English. A good reference to go through.

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    Interesting - I wasn’t aware of this AmE/BrE distinction. I agree with your BTB link that in future is a synonym for from now on and that in the future has the sense of one day (something will be true / will happen etc). – Lawrence May 31 '18 at 5:55
  • @Lawrence the best part of being an Indian is we use both Am/BrE...and get benefit of both the languages! I often tell my team that it should not happen in future! On the other hand, I tell to my daughter that "Just see, in the future, robots will take over humans!" :) – Maulik V May 31 '18 at 6:07
  • Haha, global village. Both examples in your comment are consistent with the BTB note above. You can add the to the team example or drop it from the other example - but if you do, the sense changes. – Lawrence May 31 '18 at 6:14
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If you say "in future" you need a noun to finish the sentence. for example:

Please be punctual in future meetings

The reason for that, is because future (as in "in future") is an adjective, therefore needing a subject to describe. So that means that "in future" by itself is incorrect grammar.

"In the future

would be correct because in this sentence "future" is a noun.

If you want to understand the difference between the adjective form, and the noun form of "future". Here is a link to the definition.

  • Incorrect! I promise to do better in future; there's no noun required! – Maulik V May 31 '18 at 6:27

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