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 (149 votes)
Do you need to improve your English grammar?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English grammar with our online courses.
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Thu, 22/04/2021 - 09:07

In reply to by Tony1980


Hello Andi,

I'm afraid it's difficult to say for sure without knowing the context for this sentence. I don't understand what 'that' refers to here.

By the way, the best page for this question is our '-ing' forms page. If you want to ask us about it again, could you please repost it there with more context?

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by wasan0909 on Mon, 29/03/2021 - 14:04

she is going to work next week we will have dinner later this day we are about to leave the mall the doctor is to announce the result I would be 18 by march he will have been worked for 13 months I leave at Monday

Submitted by FirasAkkad on Wed, 24/02/2021 - 16:35

Hello, Would you please explain why we have used " going to: in the exercise sentence "What are you going to do when you finish university?". I am confused as it looks to me as we are asking for a person's future plan, and we have to use present continuous. Thanks.
Profile picture for user Jonathan R

Submitted by Jonathan R on Thu, 25/02/2021 - 14:09

In reply to by FirasAkkad


Hi FirasAkkad,

Using the present continuous is possible too: What are you doing when you finish university? This means that the plans are more arranged and confirmed.

But often, we can't assume that a person's plans are arranged and confirmed, so it might be better to ask a more general question using going to. Going to asks about what the person intends to do or has decided to do (not only about arranged and confirmed plans).

Does that make sense?


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Zuzanna on Tue, 09/02/2021 - 09:54

Dear Sir, I am confused because we use ''going to" to make predictions based on the evidence we can see, right? However, in my book, there is an example: "Shh! Don't make so much noise. You will wake everybody up." So in that case we do not predict what is going to happen based on evidence in present? I thought that if we can hear that somebody is noisy it such evidence as dark clouds which predict rain. Please help me. Best regards.
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Tue, 09/02/2021 - 14:08

In reply to by Zuzanna


Hello Zuzanna,

I imagine that the person who wrote that sentence is using 'will' to express certainty about the result of making noise. You could also think of the situation as an implied first conditional ('If you make noise, you will wake them up'), which would also help explain the use of 'will' here.

I would probably say 'will' here too (for the reasons I explained above), but I don't think it would be wrong to use 'be going to'.

As you can see, the speaker's perspective on the situation is really important!

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Htoo Sandi Soe Moe on Fri, 15/01/2021 - 18:42

Dear sir, i would like to ask one question. -What are you going to do this weekends? -What are you doing this weekends? Are they correct? If i don't use ''this weekends'', can i ask ''what will you do?'' Is it correct? Which condition can i use ''what will you do? " Please explain me Sir.

Hello Htoo Sandi Soe Moe,

First of all, we would say 'this weekend' (without the 's').

As far as the verb form goes, both are possible. Going to describes an intention (in your head) while the present continuous (are doing) suggests an arrangement which is more fixed.


I think if you are only talking about your plan then going to is the best choice. If you have already taken steps arranging somethign then the present continuous is more likely:

I'm going to go to the restaurant this weekend. [my plan]

I going to the restaurant this weekend. [I have a reservation]



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Sir. Can I use, What will you do in your holidays? How will you spend your summer holidays? Are they correct? Please explain me.