Unlike other languages such as English, Mandarin does not change the form of its verbs to express past, present, and future tenses. Instead, there are other ways to say how something will happen soon or the near future. Below, we have described some of those ways, and they are quite useful and can help you become better at both written and oral Chinese.
Way 1: Use“要(yào)……了”; and “就”(jiù) or “快”(kuài) can be placed before “要” to constitute “就要……了” or “快要……了”.
（1）Diànyǐnɡ yào kāishǐ le, nǐ kuài diánr！
The movie will soon start, be quick!
（2）Fēijī jiùyào qǐfēi le.
The flight will take off.
（3）Chuán kuàiyào kāi le.
The ship will depart.
Way 2： use “快……了”which is similar to “要……了”.
（1）Fàn kuài zhǔ hǎo le.
The rice will be ready.
（2）Jīnɡlǐ kuài lái le.
The manager is coming.
To form the interrogative form of these sentences, one can add the word “吗” at the end of the sentence, followed by a question mark. The Negative Adverb “没有” is its negative answer.
（1）Lǎoshī yào kāishǐ shànɡkè le mɑ? Méi yǒu.
老师要开始上课了吗？ — 没有
Will the teacher begin our class? — Not yet.
（2）Huìyì kuài jiéshù le mɑ？Méi yǒu.
Will the meeting be finished soon? —Not yet.
1. “快……了” VS “（快）要……了”
Generally speaking, “快……了” and “要……了” can be substituted for each other,but there are still some differences, as shown below:
快+V./Adj./ time words/quantifiers+了
（1）Chē kuài/yào kāi le.
The car will leave.
（2）Zhōu kuài/yào lěnɡ le.
The porridge will get cold.
（3）Kuài chūnjié le, tā zhǔnbèi hǎo huíjiā ɡuò chūnjié le.
The Spring Festival is coming, and he is ready to go home and spend Spring Festival there.
（4）Wǒ kuài shísuì le，wǒ bù xiǎo le.
I’ll be ten years old, so I’m old enough.
2. “快要……了” VS “就要……了”
Generally speaking, “快要……了” and “就要……了” can substitute for each other, but the important difference between them is that when there is a specific time adverbial in the sentence, we can only use “就要……了”，and not “快要……了”.
（1）Tāmen mínɡtiān jiù yào chūfā le.
They will set out tomorrow.
（2）Bàbɑ hòutiān jiùyào chūchāi le.
My father will be in business the day after tomorrow.