How to ask, "What are you doing tomorrow?" in Chinese (the future tense) - 20 Questions to Basic Fluency #8

Last time we took a look at how to say, 
“What did you do yesterday?” in Chinese.  If you missed that discussion, take some time to
 go back and answer the question in the reply.

(see all
"20 Questions to Basic Fluency.")

Today we are looking at the future tense in Chinese and asking, “What are you doing tomorrow?” 

Unlike some other aspects of Chinese, using verb tenses is pretty simple.  Here is today’s question and answer:

Q:  你明天做什么?

Nǐ míngtiān
 yào zuò shénme?

What do you 
want to do tomorrow?

A: 我明天去博物馆。

Wǒ míngtiān
 yào qù bówùguǎn.

want to go to the museum tomorrow.

Just as in the past tense and present tense, the verb in the question,
 做 (zuò), and the verb in the answer,
 去 (qù), don't need to be changed, or conjugated.  To form the future tense simply put
 要 (yào) in front of the verb. 

The verb 
要 (yào) by itself means “want” but in this context it functions as “will” or “want to” or “going to.”  If you’ve  been studying Chinese for a bit you may have also noticed that
 会 (huì) can be used to form the future in the same way.  Either one is fine to use to form the future tense, but for now let’s just use
 要 (yào) to keep things simple.  


So you may be asking yourself, “what if I don’t want to go to the museum?  What if I want to talk about what I’m going to DO (or what I want to DO) tomorrow?”  If you want to talk about actions that you will do in the future, you can just replace
去博物馆 (yào qù bówùguǎn)in the answer above with any action. 


So... say you want to see a movie tomorrow, you would say:


Wǒ míngtiān
 yào kàn diànyǐng.

If you want to
 GO see a movie tomorrow, you can say:


Wǒ míngtiān
 qù kàn diànyǐng.


Check out
 Question #4 and
 Question #6 for some extensive lists of verbs that will work well in this pattern. 


Here is a list of places that you might be going to tomorrow:


城市 - Chéngshì – the city

市中心 - Shì zhōngxīn - downtown

市场 - Shìchǎng – the market

商场 - Shāngchǎng – the mall

商店 - Shāngdiàn – the store (a shop)

超级市场 - Chāojí shìchǎng – grocery market

药店 - Yàodiàn - the pharmacy

饭店 - Fàndiàn - restaurant

面馆 - Miànguǎn – noodle shop

路边摊 - Lù biān tān – street vendor

咖啡馆 - Kāfēi guǎn – the cafe

茶馆 - Cháguǎn – tea house

酒吧 - Jiǔbā – the bar

图书馆 - Túshū guǎn – the library

书店 - Shūdiàn – the bookstore

公园 - Gōngyuán – the park

博物馆 - Bówùguǎn – the museum

学校 - Xuéxiào - school

办公室 - Bàngōngshì – the office

工作 - Gōngzuò - work

教堂 - Jiàotáng - church

银行 - Yínháng – the bank

邮局 - Yóujú – the post office

海边 - Hǎibiān – the ocean

湖边 - Hú biān – the lake

河边 - Hé biān – the river

山 - Shān – the mountains

沙漠 - Shāmò – the desert

农场 - Nóngchǎng – the farm

工厂 - Gōngchǎng – the facotry

体育馆 - Tǐyùguǎn – the gym

游泳池 - Yóuyǒngchí – the pool

球场 - Qiúchǎng – the (ball) field/court

高尔夫场 - Gāo'ěrfū chǎng – the golf course

自动取款机 - Zìdòng qǔkuǎn jī – the ATM

机场 - Jīchǎng – the airport


So now it’s your turn.  Take some time to practice and tell us what you are doing tomorrow in the reply using this pattern.

(photo credit

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Comment by Shu on February 21, 2013 at 9:03am

Hi Ethan,

Yes, 江边 is totally fine.

For this sentence (我明天去工作, 可是我不要去。 我想要去大学学习中文。) of yours is good, and it is understandable. However, if you want to say -- I have to work tomorrow, however, I don't want to. I would like to go to the university to learn Chinese, then it would be clearer to say it as:

我明天要去工作, 可是我不想去。 我想要去大学学习中文。

Good job:)

Comment by Ethan Nelson on February 21, 2013 at 4:24am


老师Shu, 对不起 请问, 江边呢? 可以用吗?

我明天去工作, 可是我不要去。 我想要去大学学习中文。

Comment by Shu on January 23, 2012 at 12:06pm


It is a very nice post. Just a bit changes.

海边 - Hǎibiān – the ocean  change it to the seaside

湖边 - Hú biān – the lake     -----------lakeside

河边 - Hé biān – the river  ------------- riverside

Have a great Chinese New Year!

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