Future forms: 'will', 'be going to' and present continuous

Future forms: 'will', 'be going to' and present continuous

Do you know how to talk about future plans using will, going to and the present continuous? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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

Future plans: Grammar test 1

Grammar explanation

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.

going to

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? 

Present continuous

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

Future plans: Grammar test 2

Language level

Average: 4 (153 votes)

Submitted by abdullah kaleem on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 12:14

it is really wonderful and useful in future

Submitted by Claudia on Fri, 31/07/2020 - 00:49

Hi! In this exercise: "What _are you going to do_ after you finish university?" I don't understand why is "are you going to" instead of "are you doing", for is asking someone about their future plans. Thanks!
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Submitted by Jonathan R on Fri, 31/07/2020 - 03:57

In reply to by Claudia


Hi Claudia,


You're right that What are you doing after you finish university? is about future plans. But the present continuous is for plans that are already arranged and confirmed (see the Present continuous section above for some examples). So, What are you doing ...? is fine, if you want to ask someone specifically about their confirmed future plans.


But often, we want to ask someone more generally about their ideas or intentions for the future (i.e. not necessarily confirmed arrangements). What are you going to do? is the best question in this case.


Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Asni on Mon, 27/07/2020 - 23:11

Very useful! Thank you.

Submitted by Saamongo on Thu, 16/07/2020 - 20:43

Please moderator! Can we continue using this site even at the end of the 30 days? beacause i find it very very useful for teachers in charge of the courses.

Hello Saamongo,

Yes, the materials on LearnEnglish are available for use to all, even if someone is not a British Council student.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Saamongo on Thu, 16/07/2020 - 20:33

When I get my pay rise i'm going to have a bigger flat. I mean this is a future purpose but not a decided situation. Here is the first conditional form.

Hello Saamongo,

It's perfectly fine to use going to in the result clause like this. It expresses an intention rather than a prediction.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Saamongo on Thu, 16/07/2020 - 20:16

A: TEA or Coffee? B: I'LL HAVE COFFEE, PLEASE! WHY NOT "I'm GOING TO HAVE ?" Because I think it's an decided situation - need more explanations

Hello Saamongo,

We use will to express a decision made at the time of speaking, so as a response to this question it is perfectly fine.

We use going to to express an intention or a plan we have in mind. You might say this if you are discussing your drinks before you enter the cafe, for example.

Usually I have tea, but today I'm going to have a coffee. What about you?

Yeah, I'm going to have a coffee too. Or maybe two or three!



The LearnEnglish Team