Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

Future in the past

from English Grammar Today

When we talk about the past, we sometimes want to refer to something which was in the future at the time we were speaking. We use past verb forms to do this:

The last time I met her, she was leaving for a new job in Italy the following day. (past form of She is leaving)

They rang to say they would be with us by ten o’clock but then their flight was cancelled. (past form of They will be with us)

[a novelist writes about a house where he wrote his novel]

I saw the house that I was to live in for the next six months. (past form of I am to live in this house)

He said he was going to see the match but it was cancelled. (past form of He is going to see the match)

(“Future in the past” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press. Need grammar practice? Try English Grammar Today with Workbook.)
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Word of the Day

make believe

believing or imagining things that appear to be attractive or exciting, but are not real

Word of the Day

Lies, lies, lies!

by Kate Woodford,
February 25, 2015
​​​ According to sociologists (=people who study the relationships between people living in groups), we are good at lying. As a species, we have developed a remarkable ability to deceive each other (= persuade each other that something false is true). Being able to say things that are not true can help with

Read More 

showrooming noun

February 23, 2015
the activity of examining a product in a physical store and then making the purchase with an online retailer Amazon’s new smartphone is specifically designed to make showrooming fast and easy.

Read More