Look at these examples to see how will, going to and the present continuous are used.
Oh great! That meeting after work's been cancelled. I'll go to that yoga class instead.
I'm going to try to visit my relatives in Australia this year.
The restaurant is reserved for 8. We're having a drink at Beale's first.
Try this exercise to test your grammar.
- Grammar test 1
We use different verb forms to talk about our plans for the future, depending on what kind of plan it is: a spontaneous plan, a pre-decided plan or an arrangement.
We use will to talk about spontaneous plans decided at the moment of speaking.
Oops, I forgot to phone Mum! I'll do it after dinner.
I can't decide what to wear tonight. I know! I'll wear my green shirt.
There's no milk. I'll buy some when I go to the shops.
We use going to to talk about plans decided before the moment of speaking.
I'm going to phone Mum after dinner. I told her I'd call at 8 o'clock.
I'm going to wear my black dress tonight.
I'm going to go to the supermarket after work. What do we need?
We usually use the present continuous when the plan is an arrangement – already confirmed with at least one other person and we know the time and place.
I'm meeting Jane at 8 o'clock on Saturday.
We're having a party next Saturday. Would you like to come?
We often use the present continuous to ask about people's future plans.
Are you doing anything interesting this weekend?
Do this exercise to test your grammar again.
- Grammar test 2
The way I see it, imperative verbs refer to a time after the time of speaking because of course the interlocutor can only act after they have heard the utterance.
That time can be immediate or it can be far in the future. Usually the context will make it clear, but if not, the only way to know is to ask the speaker what they mean.
You can say 'I'd like a coffee' when you're ordering in a restaurant; it's also common to say 'I'll have a coffee' to mean the same thing. They are not imperatives, but rather requests. As with imperatives, in my view they are speaking about a time after the time of speaking -- in this case, the near future.
All the best
The LearnEnglish Team