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. 

will

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 (116 votes)

Submitted by dantas345 on Wed, 27/12/2023 - 17:42

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This week I started my first week on my temporari job, is like one job that I need to work for a little time because of my university course. I´m goint to work every week. after this problably I´ll go to my house, our I´ll try to find Jão in somewhere.

Submitted by MohamedG74 on Thu, 14/12/2023 - 01:26

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I'm going to my friends tonight. we dissed to going to cinema.

Submitted by Myra... on Sat, 09/12/2023 - 13:05

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Hello, in this case: The sports club has put the prices again. I .... (cancel) my membership. It seems to me a moment decision- so I would use “will cancel”.

Hello again Myra...,

Yes. Here I think the context is clear and will is the most likely option. However, other forms are possible if the broader context suits it. For example, the speaker could be describing and explaining a decision made much earlier rather than making a decision at this moment.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Myra... on Sat, 09/12/2023 - 13:01

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Hi, I’ve decided what to do for my holiday, I’m going to go to Morocco, or I will go to Morocco? I have chosen the first one because it os a decision.

Hello Myra...,

Both forms are possible here. In fact, more forms are possible as the choice depends on contextual questions which are not included in the sentence. Perhaps the holiday is part of a timetable, in which case the present simple is possible. Perhaps it has been arranged with a friend and the speaker is only now telling someone else about it, in which case the present continuous is possible. Or perhaps it is an intention from earlier now being reported, in which case going to is best, as you say. Or perhaps it is a decision made right now, at the time of speaking, in which case will is most appropriate.

Choices of future forms are dependent on the context and the intention of the speaker. Very often more than one choice is possible.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ruth32 on Wed, 06/12/2023 - 03:36

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thank you so much for this. I'll try and get my students to look things up here rather than rely on youtube tutorials by non-native speakers. The whole class recently insisted I was wrong, that "will" should be used when you're not sure and "going to" when something will definitely happen. Weird.

Submitted by Ely889 on Sun, 19/11/2023 - 09:11

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Hi. It is said "My brother will be 16 in October" or "My brother is going to be 16 in October"?

Hi Ely889,

Both are fine and commonly used. "Will" shows certainty about the future event, and "going to" shows that it's predetermined. Both of those meanings make sense in this context.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by RosinaRobert on Tue, 07/11/2023 - 07:09

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Hi dear,
In the following sentence, I am baffled about using the right form of future:
He (will become- is going to become) a scientist when he leaves university. This is his plan.