In the last post, I looked at the 'foreseeable future' problem. This is a noun phrase often (always?) used wrongly, and has fallen into (but maybe now, out of) fashion. Let's complete our discussion on this term.

In order to understand what ‘foreseeable future’ means and how it is used, we need an example. Look at the following conversation.

Harry:       Will I get a salary increase?

Boss:        I’ll try, but it’s going to be hard. I’ll see what I can do?

Harry:       But I need one now! When can it happen?

Boss       Well, Harry, not in the foreseeable future.

In the given example, the boss can, indeed, see the future concerning whether Harry will get a salary increase or not. The boss has control over the situation, so he can predict that (as far as he can ‘foresee’ in his position as boss), that Harry will not get an increase. But why doesn’t the boss just say, “No Harry, you won’t get a salary increase”?

The answer is that Harry may get a salary increase at some point in the more distant future, which the boss cannot foresee. The boss may retire, quit his job, or move to another company. He doesn’t know if or when this will happen. That is moving ahead of the future he can ‘foresee’, so he uses the term ‘foreseeable future’ to limit the prediction to be within his knowledge and timeframe.

Now think about you, an IELTS candidate, writing about some strange IELTS essay topic. You are in no specific situation, and have no authority, specialist knowledge, or power to control any future situation or events. You can thus not see much or know much about the future. So, when a student writes:

  • This will create a better society in the foreseeable future.
  • Funding museums will help society, both now and in the foreseeable future.
  • I believe online shopping will dominate in the foreseeable future.

… it is just simply WRONG.

My response when I read this is always the same: “Here we go, another student copying another wrong phrase from another bad IELTS source, simply proving they can’t write well at all.” It’s time to read my IELTS Writing Books (click on this word), which will really teach you how to write, involving real IELTS preparation from a real teacher with real credentials and real experience. Think about it.


Find the meaning of the underlined words, almost repeated below.

  • to predict (v)
  • to dominate (v)
  • credentials (n)




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