"in future" or "in the future"

Emmajoma

Member
Swedish
Which one is more correct to say or is there a difference in meaning between the two:

"in the future, I would like to..."

"in future, I would like to..."

I'm going to use this phrase in my letter of introduction.
 
  • MuttQuad

    Senior Member
    English - AmE
    Which one is more correct to say or is there a difference in meaning between the two:

    "in the future, I would like to..."

    "in future, I would like to..."

    I'm going to use this phrase in my letter of introduction.

    Mostly a difference between American (the first way) and British (the second way) usage. Similar to "in the hospital" and "in hospital."
     

    Imber Ranae

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    There's not really any difference between the two. In AE "in the future" is more common, but in most other varieties "in future" is more common (unless you're talking about the future as an era, which you aren't here).
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I was always under the impression that there was a subtle difference between the two in BrE, a difference I've never been able to figure out on my own. Does one mean "starting now" and the other "starting at some point in the future, but not now"?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I was always under the impression that there was a subtle difference between the two in BrE, a difference I've never been able to figure out on my own. Does one mean "starting now" and the other "starting at some point in the future, but not now"?

    I would agree with a nuance like that, in some contexts:

    Disciplinary: "In future, you will wear your shirt and tie to all meals" (i.e. from this point on, as ribran suggests)
    Predictive: "In the future we will all be connected wirelessly into our brains" (at some unknown point in the future)
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Thanks, Loob! I'm not sure why my search for in future, in the future​ didn't return any relevant results (at least, not in the first few pages).
     

    acme_54

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I was always under the impression that there was a subtle difference between the two in BrE, a difference I've never been able to figure out on my own. Does one mean "starting now" and the other "starting at some point in the future, but not now"?

    IMO In my opinion the subtle difference is mainly one of intent. "In future" sounds more purposeful (I'll bring a spare key in future). The definite article makes it more general (In the future, everyone will be aware...)
     
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    Defiler

    New Member
    AmE & The Queen's
    Most of the replies are from native-speaking countries yet not one clearly explains the difference.


    In future means from now onwards.

    --> In future, don't take my things without my permission. (From now onwards, don't take my things without my permission.)
    NOT In the future, don't take my things without my permission.

    In the future means later on or in 10 or 20 years' time.

    --> I want to be a pilot in the future. (I want to be a pilot later on.)
    NOT I want to be a pilot in future.

    MuttQuad, there is a BIG difference between the two. << Removed: comment that no longer applies.>>
     
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    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Most of the replies are from native-speaking countries yet not one clearly explains the difference.


    In future means from now onwards.

    --> In future, don't take my things without my permission. (From now onwards, don't take my things without my permission.)
    NOT In the future, don't take my things without my permission.

    [....]
    Where I live, we would in fact say:
    In the future, don't take my things without my permission.
    "In future" sounds odd to me, as a speaker of American English. That is, my experience is consistent with Imber Ranae's observation above.

    (I wonder whether all speakers of British English always wait 10-20 years for 'the future' to arrive.)
     

    WildWest

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Excuse my confusion, but I'd like to ask something. Isn't the word future an uncountable noun? As I know, the uncountable nouns don't take an article before them.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Excuse my confusion, but I'd like to ask something. Isn't the word future an uncountable noun? As I know, the uncountable nouns don't take an article before them.

    Where did you read that future is always uncountable? Many books seem to give lists of "uncountable nouns" but fail to mention that many can be used as countable nouns as well.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I don't think that affects the discussion, because we are talking about the definite article the rather than the indefinite article a(n). The can be used with countable and uncountable nouns: the cat, the bread, the coffee.

    The phrase 'in future' is closely associated with scolding for me: 'in future, don't do that!', or possibly a kind of promise, 'I won't do that again in future'. I would use the future in other contexts.
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Sorry, I had a rethink after saying what I did and realised that you were thinking about the lack of any article in 'in future'. I still think that the issue is not countability but idiomaticity. Why do I say 'in future'? For the same reason that I say 'at present'. It's a kind of set phrase. And I can't try to generalise from that use: 'in past' does not work for me. And as you can see there might be difference between different varieties of English; AmE speakers are usually happy with 'in light of', whereas I much prefer 'in the light of'.
     

    WildWest

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Well, I don't know if this means going off topic but in that thread Egmont states that uncountable nouns don't take articles. Logically they cannot take a/an. How about the article the?
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    As I said earlier, the is not a problem for countable and uncountable nouns. Egmont means that uncountable don't take the indefinite article (a or an). You can't say a bread, but the bread​ is fine. The issue is the zero article, which is available for uncountable nouns ('Your meal comes with bread' - zero article for bread). Future is mainly countable:

    This product has a future. :tick:
    This product has future. :cross:

    But in future is a set phrase.
     

    WildWest

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    As I said earlier, the is not a problem for countable and uncountable nouns. Egmont means that uncountable don't take the indefinite article (a or an). You can't say a bread, but the bread​ is fine. The issue is the zero article, which is available for uncountable nouns ('Your meal comes with bread' - zero article for bread). Future is mainly countable:

    This product has a future. :tick:
    This product has future. :cross:

    But in future is a set phrase.

    Thank you a lot, natkretep :)
     

    1361sara

    Member
    Persian-Iran
    This discussion has been added to a previous thread. Cagey, moderator.

    Hi,
    What is the difference between " in future" and " in the future" ?
    Best,
     
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    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    We really ought to have context, but I believe in some cases UK speakers say "in future" where US speakers would say "in the future."
     

    1361sara

    Member
    Persian-Iran
    We really ought to have context, but I believe in some cases UK speakers say "in future" where US speakers would say "in the future."
    Thank you for your answer.
    I hope to see you in future.
    In the future, I will become a doctor.
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    Thank you. You mean that there is a difference between "in future" and "in the future" in British? What is the difference?
    I'm not qualified to comment on British English. I was pointing out that you said
    That is, "the" doesn't make any sense in the US.
    whereas The Newt said
    In the US we would say "in the future" in both cases.
    You seem to be saying that the US wouldn't use "the," when The Newt said that we do.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    This thread has been added to an earlier thread that includes some discussion of the British usage.

    Please scroll up to read from the top.

    Cagey, moderator.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thank you for your answer.
    I hope to see you in future.
    In the future, I will become a doctor.
    Neither of these sentences is natural BE.

    But as for the difference between 'in future' and 'in the future' ...

    I don't know if this will help at all, or only confuse, but you know the way we use present perfect and simple past?
    Present perfect refers to all past time right up to the present.
    Simple past refers to a moment or period of time completed in the past.

    In a rather similar way, we use 'in future' referring to all time from now onwards.
    And 'in the future' refers to a moment or a discrete period of time in the future, not yet begun.
     
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