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 (144 votes)
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Thanks a lot the learn English Team.
I would be grateful to you if you could tell the answer of this question. What Kiran likes the most is he likes to play the guitar at the concert,......?supply the correct tag.

Submitted by MohamedMosta on Tue, 02/08/2022 - 00:54


Hello LeanrEnglish Team.
i need to know if I understand wee.
1-I am going to the cinema tonight.(That means i have already arranged it and maybe i booked a ticket).
2- I am going to go to the cinema tonight. (I this example. I have planned to do it, but may be at any time during the day I may change my mind and do not go)

Submitted by Bob.Mux on Wed, 01/12/2021 - 04:51


Hello the team!
I would really appreciate if you could help me understand the use of modal "will" in the sentences below:
A daughter: Mum, my flat is being decorated. Can i come and stay with you?
A mother: Of course, dear. How long will you stay?
Here, why is "will" used? I think, we can assume her staying as a plan or an intention because she could have diceded to stay with her parents before the time of the conversation with her mum so using "be going to+ verb or future/present continuous will be the best choice... and second, is it ok if we use "will" for arrangements wen we wish to express our determination about an what we have already arranged? For example,
I am helping my friend with cleaning the room. ( my arrangement with the friend)
I will help my friend with cleaning the room ( my determination, whatever happens, i am still going to help my friend

Hi Bob.Mux,

In the first example, there are several possibilities. "Will" could indicate an intention or willingness (similar in meaning to "How long do you want to stay?"), or it could indicate certainty (i.e., asking about the daughter's particular needs or requirements). You may find this Cambridge Dictionary page useful: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/will?q=Will

Yes, it is possible to say "How long are you going to stay?" or "How long are you staying?", as you mention. But in these cases, the mother assumes that the daughter has already made the decision to stay with her parents - even before asking whether it is OK to do so. In other words, the question "Can I come and stay with you?" is not genuinely asking for permission (because the answer is understood by mother and daughter to be an obvious 'yes' since the daughter has already made her plan to stay) but instead just informing the mother of the daughter's intention.

On the other hand, if we understand "Can I come and stay with you?" as a genuine request for permission, then the mother would be less likely to use going to and present continuous in her reply, because the daughter's intention depends on whether the mother gives permission or not (i.e., it's not a confirmed plan).

Interesting example and I hope that helps :)

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot Jonathan,
Your explanation has made a sense but now i am a bit confused about what what intentions are like. What is the difference between intentions expressed by "will" and "be going to verb"? As a non-English speaker we are always taught that intentions are something in our minds, like plan but not fully arranged and we should you be going to verb for intentions

Hi Bob.Mux,

‘Going to’ expresses an intention that is relatively more arranged and confirmed than using ‘will’. Here are some examples.

-- When I go to London next month, I’ll visit the Science Museum. (the speaker’s wishes to do this, but the visit has not necessarily been arranged or confirmed)
-- When I go to London next month, I’m going to visit the Science Museum. (the speaker considers the visit to be certain or almost certain; it may have already been arranged or confirmed)

We can also compare it with the present continuous:
-- When I go to London next month, I’m visiting the Science Museum. (an even higher degree of certainty; the visit has been arranged or confirmed; it implies that it is part of a schedule or itinerary)

I hope that helps :)

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Maahir on Thu, 08/04/2021 - 08:21

Hi dear teachers, In ex2 there is a question saying, what............ next week. the correct answer is, what are you doing. So, is it Okay to also say what will you do next week?