Understanding Grammar: The future in the past
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Rowan, Rich and Jack are talking about their plans for the weekend and then how their plans are disrupted by bad weather. The language focus is on how we talk about the future in the past. In this week's task, we want you to listen to three extreme weather forecasts and imagine how your plans change after listening to them. Don't forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have a new football phrase for you to guess.
Understanding Grammar: The future in the past
Jack: Hello my name’s Jack
Rowan: My name’s Rowan
Rich: and I’m Rich and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: In the Premier Skills English podcast, we talk about football and help you with your English.
Rich: We’d like to welcome back Rowan who is joining us again this week. Hi Rowan.
Rowan: Hi Rich. Hi Jack. Hi everyone who is listening.
Jack: In this week’s roleplay, I’m planning a camping trip but things don’t go to plan.
Rich: What could stop Jack from going camping?
Rowan: Who knows? He might not have a tent, his car might break down, he might get sick or maybe he’s scared of spiders and other creepy crawlies.
Rich: Well, we’ll find out in the roleplay soon and we’ll also focus on grammar this week.
Jack: That’s right. Our language focus this week is how we talk about the future in the past. Well, I was going to tell everyone now but let’s leave it until after the roleplay.
Rich: Your task this week is to listen to three extreme weather forecasts and say how they could change your plans.
Rowan: If you’re listening to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcast platform, you should also check out our website.
Jack: That’s because on the Premier Skills English website you’ll also find the transcript, examples and activities to help you understand the language, a task for you to do and a community of friendly listeners to interact with, in our comments section.
Rich: And that includes us - we’re always around to answer questions and join the discussions.
Rowan: A lot to get through today! Before we get into all that we need to look back at last week’s football phrase.
Last week’s Football Phrase
Jack: If you didn’t hear our football phrase last week we’re going to give you one more chance to guess now.
Rich: Last week’s football phrase was to ** *** ****** ****. This is a phrase we use when one team beats another team twice in the league in the same season - once at home and once away. Liverpool have **** *** ****** **** Tottenham this season.
Rowan: We’ll give you the correct answer at the end of the show when we give you a new football phrase.
Jack: The first listener to get it right last week was Nicolas from Colombia. Congratulations Nicolas - it’s the first time you have been first. I also very much liked the idiom you used in your comment: to go out on a limb.
Rich: This idiom can be used to say you are taking a guess but it’s a bit risky because you’re not sure about it. I’m not sure who won the best Premier League Player award last season but I’ll go out on a limb and say it was Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.
Rowan: Also a big well done to Marco Zapien and Vic from Mexico, Elghoul from Algeria, Luibomyr from Ukraine, Lakerwang from China, Gergo Nagy from Hungary, and Idzingirai from Zimbabwe who also got it right.
Jack: Remember we’ll have a new football phrase for you to guess at the end of the show.
Introduction to Roleplay
Rich: In this section, you’re going to hear a roleplay. You’re going to hear three people - me, Rowan and Jack, talking about our plans for the weekend.
Rowan: While you are listening, we want you to answer a couple of questions:
Rich: What activities does Jack want to do?
Jack: What do Rowan and Rich think about my plans?
Jack: Just a salad Rowan? Come on, it’s Friday. Double hamburger and fries for me, please.
Rowan: Double hamburger and fries? Has it been a hard week?
Jack: I’ve got so much work on at the moment. I’ve been super busy - running around like a headless chicken most of the time.
Rich: Well, the weekend is nearly here! And it’s a bank holiday on Monday. No work till Tuesday! Woo hoo! Any plans?
Jack: Oh yeah! This weekend is going to be brilliant. I’m going away for the weekend.
Rowan: You seem to go away every weekend! Where is it this weekend? Paris? New York? Rome?
Jack: Not quite Rowan, but it’s going to be good. I’m going camping but not camping as you guys do it.
Rich: What do you mean how we do it?
Jack: Come on, Rich. What did you tell me the last time? How long did it take you to put up the tent? Six hours? And Rowan - you told me that you had to share one toilet block with two hundred campers. Revolting!
Rowan: What are you going to do then?
Jack: This is super-deluxe camping. Some call it glamping - glamorous camping.
Rich: Right, OK. Tell me more - please.
Jack: Sure thing, buddy! I’m going to rent a car - a Volkswagen campervan to take us to the campsite. It’s in a beautiful spot next to the river. But, I won’t be putting up any tents - they’ll have all been pitched and set up ready for us and they all have en-suite bathrooms.
Rowan: En-suite bathrooms? Doesn’t sound much like camping to me.
Jack: And the activities - all provided at the site. There’s going to be rock climbing, hang-gliding, archery, you can even take parachuting lessons.
Rich: That’s not camping. Where’s the challenge? Camping’s about survival and doing things yourself.
Jack: Yeah, well I’m paying for it myself … What are you guys doing? Bit of DIY is it - painting the house - a walk in the countryside.
Rowan: There’s nothing wrong with a walk in the countryside.
Jack: I bet you’ll be sitting around watching the football, won’t you, Rich?
Rich: Well, actually because it’s a bank holiday I thought I’d set up a screen in the garden and invite a few people around.
Rowan: Finally! You’re going to get the chance to use your new projector. You’ve been going on about this for weeks.
Rich: Yeah - it’s going to be great. A bunch of my mates from uni are coming over.
Jack: And what about you Rowan?
Rowan: Well, to be honest, I’m not looking forward to the weekend. We’ve got the in-laws staying this weekend.
Jack: Unlucky! You told me about them before. They don’t talk much do they?
Rowan: It’s like getting blood out of a stone sometimes. How’s life, Margaret? Oh, the same you know. How about you, Ted? Same old, same old. Would you like a cup of tea, Margaret? I don’t mind. Ted? No, thanks, I’m fine. I can normally just leave them in front of the TV but they want to visit some gardens near us.
Rich: That sounds fun!
Rowan: Yes, indeed. They have the whole weekend planned with trips to gardens. You know, National Trust and places like that. We’re visiting different gardens every day.
Rich: Oh dear! Sounds a laugh a minute.
Rowan: Oh look, the weather forecast is on.
Jack: Turn it up will you, I need it to be sunny and warm this weekend.
Rich: Looking further ahead, it's not all good news for the bank holiday weekend as a new weather front is coming our way. That ridge of high pressure we've been enjoying will give way to low pressure on Sunday which will bring cloud and storms with rain, that could be torrential at times. There may well be flooding in some areas.
Jack: You have to be joking!!
Rowan: What’s the matter?
Jack: Look at that flood warning on the weather forecast. It’s right where the campsite is.
Rich: What did you say you were doing, Jack? You were going glamping!?
Rowan: You were going parachuting?
Jack: I was going to go parachuting! I was supposed to do some lessons. I was about to book them. I was supposed to go up there tomorrow and wasn’t coming back until Monday evening. They said it was going to be a scorcher last week. Brilliant sunshine they said!
Rowan: Hey, look on the bright side. If it’s going to be raining cats and dogs I won’t have to traipse around National Trust gardens with my in-laws.
Rich: I was going to watch the football in the garden. I’ll have to call that off. I suppose I could still have some friends over, we’ll just have to watch it inside. I was going to invite you round, Rowan. Do you want to come?
Rowan: Sure - it’ll be more fun than my house.
Jack: (Cough, cough).
Rich: I was going to invite you Jack, but you always seem to have better things to do …
Jack: Oh go on, please …
Rich: Sure. Match kicks off at three.
Rich: Before the roleplay, we asked you two questions.
Rowan: The first question was: What activities did Jack plan to do at the weekend?
Jack: Well, I was planning to go camping and I was going to do some parachuting, I was going to do some rock climbing. All kinds of things until the weather disrupted my plans.
Rich: The second question was how did we feel about Jack’s plans. Well, I think we felt he was either showing off or possibly not telling the truth.
Rowan: He said he was going to do all kinds of things. Jack I know you’re an all-action kind of guy but parachuting, hang-gliding and rock climbing might be too much for anyone.
Jack: I think it’s time to move on to this week’s language focus.
Rich: We sometimes need to talk about the future from the past. We sometimes need to say what we planned to do in the future.
Rowan: In the roleplay, all three of us spoke about our plans for the weekend. We generally used going to or the present continuous to do this.
Jack: I’m going camping.
Rich: I’m going to put a big screen up in the garden to watch the football.
Rowan: We’re visiting different gardens every day.
Jack: In these examples, we’re using going to to state our intentions and the present continuous to talk about future plans and arrangements.
Rich: But, after seeing the weather forecast on the TV we realised that we weren’t going to be able to do any of these things because of the rain.
Rowan: We had to cancel or change our plans. After seeing the weather forecast we started speaking about things that were going to happen in the future.
Jack: The present continuous changes to the past continuous: I was going camping but I have to stay at home now.
Rich: I am going to becomes I was going to. We are going to becomes we were going to: I was going to put a big screen up in the garden but I’ll have to watch the match indoors now.
Rowan: Notice how when we are speaking we often use gonna and not going to. Listen to these examples:
Rowan: I knew it was gonna rain! I was gonna watch the match in the garden. I was gonna go glamping in a big posh tent.
Jack: There are some other phrases we can use to talk about something that used to be in the future. In the roleplay, I said I was about to book the parachuting lessons.
Rich: We use to be about to do something to talk about something that is going to happen very soon - in the immediate future. Here’s an example:
Rowan: I was about to go out when it started chucking it down. I decided to stay in.
Jack: We can use it in the past to describe something that you very nearly did and we just use the verb to be in the past. I was about to book the lessons but then I saw the weather forecast.
Rich: There are some other useful phrases we can use to talk about things that used to be in the future.
Jack: I was meant to be camping this week. We can use was or were meant to be to talk about things we expected to happen but didn’t.
Rich: I was meant to be going to Italy this week but it was cancelled and I’m here instead.
Rowan: A similar useful phrase to talk about something we thought was going to happen is was or were supposed to.
Jack: We were supposed to be playing at six but the match was called off.
Rich: OK, so there are some examples of how we can talk about things that were in the future at one point in the past.
Rowan: We have more examples and activities for you to look at on the Premier Skills English website. Just look for this lesson on the homepage or in the listen section. It’s called Understanding Grammar: The future in the past.
Rich: In the roleplay, you heard a weather forecast. You’re now going to hear three more weather forecasts.
Rowan: We want you to tell us how listening to these weather forecasts might change the plans you originally had.
Jack: Try to use some of the language we introduced in the roleplay; especially the structure was or were going to when you write your answers.
Rich: Weather forecast one: Good afternoon and the good news is that today is going to be an absolute scorcher with temperatures rising into the mid-thirties.
Rowan: Weather forecast two: Good afternoon the temperatures are set to drop below freezing overnight and tomorrow we will wake up to a blanket of snow with up to 30 centimetres in some places.
Jack: Weather forecast three: Good afternoon. Hurricane James is going to bring gales and thunderstorms throughout the day. Wind speeds could reach up to 100 kilometres per hour.
Rich: Write all your answers in the comments on the Premier Skills English homepage or the review section on Apple Podcasts if that’s where you listen to us.
Rowan: Remember, your task is to talk about plans you have to change after listening to these three weather forecasts.
Rowan: Who’s got this week’s football phrase? I did it last week.
Rich: I’ve got it this week. Here we go. This week’s phrase is ***-****** ********. This is what players normally do after they have had their holidays and before they start playing matches again. They need to do this every year to get match-fit.
Jack: And, Premier League players are back in ***_****** ******** now getting ready for matches to hopefully start up again in a few weeks.
Rowan: Let’s see who can get it right? Before we leave you we also need to tell you last week’s football phrase. The answer was do the double over.
Rich: Right, that’s all we have time for this week! Don’t forget to write your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below. If you get it right, we’ll announce your name on next week’s show.
Rowan: If you have any questions or comments or suggestions for the podcast or anything football or English related, you can leave them on the website in the comments section, on social media, on apple podcasts or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rich: Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
Here is the vocabulary you saw at the top of this page and how Rowan, Rich and Jack used it in the roleplay. Do you know the words in bold?
I’ve been super busy - running around like a headless chicken most of the time.
It’s a bank holiday on Monday. No work till Tuesday! Woo hoo!
How long did it take you to put up the tent? Six hours?
I won’t be putting up any tents - they’ll have all been pitched and set up ready for us.
We’ve got the in-laws staying this weekend.
I won’t have to traipse around National Trust gardens with my in-laws.
I was going to watch the football in the garden. I’ll have to call that off.
Listen to the roleplay again to hear Rich, Rowan and Jack using these words and phrases.
The future in the past
In the roleplay, Rowan, Rich and Jack spoke about their plans for the weekend. We often use going to or the present continuous to do this:
I’m going camping.
I’m going to put a big screen up in the garden to watch the football.
We’re visiting different gardens every day.
However, the weather disrupted their plans and then they started to talk about their future plans in the past. Have a look at these sentences and take note of the words in bold:
I was going camping but I have to stay at home now.
I was going to put a big screen up in the garden but I’ll have to watch the match indoors now.
In both cases the verb to be changes from the present to the past. When we are talking about past events and we want to refer to something that was in the future at that time we use the past tenses of verbs we would normally use to talk about the future.
The future in the past
There are some other phrases we can use to talk about something that used to be in the future. Look at the words in bold in these sentences you heard in the roleplay:
I was about to book the parachuting lessons but then I saw the weather forecast.
I was about to go out when it started chucking it down. I decided to stay in.
I was meant to be camping this week.
I was meant to be going to Italy this week.
We were supposed to be playing at six but the match was called off.
We can use these phrases to talk about things were going to happen in the future at some point the past but are no longer going to happen.
In the roleplay, you heard a few words connected to extreme weather. Have a look at the words in bold below and decide what type of weather they are connected to the heat, the cold, wind or rain:
This may cause flooding in some areas.
They said it was going to be a scorcher last week.
I was about to go out when it started chucking it down.
The temperatures are set to drop below freezing overnight.
Hurricane James is going to bring gales and thunderstorms throughout the day.
It's absolutely boiling outside today!
Extreme weather forecast!
This week's task is to listen to three weather forecasts and tell us how these weather forecasts might change the plans you originally had. Try to use some of the language we introduced in the roleplay; especially the structure was or were going to when you write your answers. Here are the forecasts again:
- Good afternoon ... and the good news is that today is going to be an absolute scorcher with temperatures rising into the mid-thirties.
- Good afternoon ... the temperatures are set to drop below freezing overnight and tomorrow we will wake up to a blanket of snow with up to 30 centimetres in some places.
- Good afternoon. Hurricane James is going to bring gales and thunderstorms throughout the day. Wind speeds could reach up to 100 kilometres per hour.
Write all your answers in the comments section below and don't forget to make a guess at this week's football phrase!