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)

Submitted by Zuzanna12 on Tue, 25/10/2022 - 08:26


Dear Sir,

Is there a rule that both Future Simple and Present Continuous relate to activities about which the performer decides, while in terms of Future Continuous there is no information about who decided to do it but only states a fact that it is to be happening?

With regards,

Hello Zuzanna,

Perhaps I haven't understood this idea correctly, but it doesn't sound right to me. For example, I could say 'I'm making a presentation in a meeting tomorrow morning' even when I hadn't really decided to do that, i.e. perhaps my boss told me I had to do it. I suppose one could argue that I accepted this and so in that sense I decided to do it, but I'm not sure if that's what this rule you ask about means.

It is true, though, that the difference between the future simple and future continuous is often one of nuance and emphasis.

You might want to have a look at our Talking about the future page, which goes into a bit more detail than this one.

I'm not sure if this has answered your question. Please let us know if you have any more questions -- the more specific, the better.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rabearabea on Tue, 16/08/2022 - 15:31


Hi Learn English Team,
When we talk about events in a “school activity week” which is officially fixed in a timetable, is it correct to "will", e.g. :
1- When will the art activity start?
2- When will the sports activity start?
3- When will the science activity start?
and the answers are:
- The art activity will start at 8:00 on Sunday 12 April.
- The sports activity will start at 8:00 on Monday 13 April.
- The science activity will start at 8:00 on Tuesday 14 April.

Hello Rabearabea,

We normally use the present simple to speak about timetabled events. There are exceptions to this in specific circumstances, but in general we'd say 'The art activity starts at 8.00 ...', etc.

You might want to have a look at our Talking about the future page, where this topic is covered in a bit more detail.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk , The LearnEnglish Team
Thank you very much for your explanation about the examples I asked about. I studied the situations on the page you kindly referred me to where 'will' is used. However, would you please tell me about the exceptions you mentioned in using 'will' for timetabled future activities.

Hi Rabearabea,

We can use "will" to express timetabled future activities that are also offers and promises. For example, an advertisement for a travel holiday may do this, because it is attempting to offer the activities to the reader and make them think about buying the holiday (instead of simply describing the travel itinerary to the reader in a factual way). It might say something like "On day 1 you will visit the National Museum. On day 2 you will take a boat to Green Island ..." (etc.)

I hope that helps.


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello The Learn English Team, Jonathan
Thank for your explanation on 'will'. It was of great help to me.

Hello sir .plz help me find the correct answer of it. Don't forget to take an umbrella. It ......is raining or is going to rain . I think it shoud be is going to rain as the previous statement is showing prediction.

Hello khadkakopila123,

Both are possible -- it depends on whether it is raining now or if the speaker is making a prediction. If this is an exercise from a book, I think you are probably right in thinking that it is 'is going to rain'. But both sentences can make sense.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team