Immediate Future

Form

When we talk about the immediate future, we can use a pattern composed of three elements:
the verb "to be", conjugated in the present tense, + about + the infinitive of the main verb

Subject + to be + about (or just about) + infinitive
I am about to be sick
They are about to arrive.
It is just about to explode.
To leave, in the immediate future
Affirmative Negative Interrogative Negative Interrogative
I am about to leave. I am not about to leave. Am I about to leave? Am I not about to leave?
You are about to leave. You are not about to leave. Are you about to leave? Aren't you about to leave?
He is about to leave. He is not about to leave. Is he about to leave? Isn't he about to leave?
We are about to leave. We aren't about to leave. Are we about to leave? Aren't we about to leave?
They are about to leave. They aren't about to leave. Are they about to leave? Aren't they about to leave?

Function

This pattern is used to refer to a time immediately after the moment of speaking, and emphasises that the event or action will happen very soon. We often add the word just before the word about, which emphasises the immediacy of the action.

Examples
  • She is about to cry.
  • You are about to see something very unusual.
  • I am about to go to a meeting.
  • We are just about to go inside.
  • Sally is just about to jump off that diving board.

This pattern can also be used with the simple past tense of to be in place of the present tense, to refer to an action that was imminent, but was interrupted. That pattern is often followed by a clause introduced by when.

Examples
  • She was about to leave when Jim arrived.
  • When it started to rain, I was about to go out for a walk.
  • I was just about to call her when she walked in.
  • The car was just about to flip over when he regained control.