I have learnt at school that you only can use the simple present for specific events in the future e.g. The bus leaves at 8.45. But when I watch an english series or a movie I also hear a lot sentences in which it doesn't follow the rules mentioned above but still refers to the future.

Here's an example of Mission Impossible Fallout:

[Ethan hunt needs to get a package of plutonium in order to save the world]

Then what? Then I assume his identity and make contact with the Black Widow. She takes us to the package.

I have noticed that in colloquial language a lot is omitted e.g. Wanna have some fun? instead of Do you want to have some fun? or Mind if I take a chair? Maybe it could be the case that in the "then" sentence 'll or will is missing. But It wouldn't explain the usage of the second sentence. Is such a usage grammatically wrong or not? I've heard from Germans that language is becoming more and more sloppy on TV but I don't know if that's an example of that or not? Can someone help me,please?

  • ell.stackexchange.com/questions/115905/… The second part of the third paragraph in the accepted answer describes this usage. No, this isn't a result of people being "sloppy" with their words (and tell me, if you understand everyone correctly even when they're being "sloppy" and shortening things, what's the purpose of spelling everything out, again?).
    – user3395
    May 2, 2020 at 16:42

2 Answers 2


The simple present is used for present events, events that happen generally ("The bus leaves at 8:45 every morning."), and as historical or narrative present. It can also be used to describe future events, a use that is called "futurate". This is similar to narrative present in using present tense to describe events at another time.

In your example, Mission Impossible 6 (30 seconds)
"Then I assume his identity..." and much following discussion,
futurate is used. It refers to future time as if it were happening now.

Wiktionary "futurate"
"(grammar) The use of a non-future-tense verb to express future time."


In English, the simple present with future meaning is mostly for schedules, but there are other rare functions --none of which I have ever taught in my 15 years as an ESL teacher-- and this is one of them.

This form is used informally. It's used to predict or plan what will happen in a given hypothetical future situation.

A different example of this function is discussing the consequences of a chess situation: "After the queen captures the knight, the pawn takes the bishop and checks the king." (none of this has happened yet)

Another is thinking about the consequences of a tough decision: "If I blow the whistle, I lose my job, but if keep quiet, maybe I go to jail."

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