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 (146 votes)

Submitted by Ama1 on Sat, 08/06/2024 - 20:02



I want to know the difference between "going to" and "Present continuous".

1- If we take the example of the lesson "I'm going to phone Mum after dinner. I told her I'd call at 8 o'clock.". In this sentence, the person told his mother that he was going to call her at 8 o'clock, so normally we should use "I'm calling Mum after dinner....." >>> the plan is an arrangement – ​​already confirmed with at least one....

2- Is “going to” Present continuous? Is this a special case of "Present continuous"?


Hi Ama1,

  1. The choice of going to or present continuous depends on how the speaker sees the situation. Going to describes an intention which the speaker sees as possibly still changing, which present continuous describes something the speaker sees as sure to happen. Very often - as in your example - both forms are possible.
  2. Going to is treated as a form in itself. In terms of construction it is present continuous (be + verb-ing) but we treat it as a separate form. Remember that - unlike many languages - English has no future tense but rather a range of ways to talk about future time. These include modal verbs like will, might and should, going to, present simple, present continuous and more.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Romina Lanser on Wed, 06/03/2024 - 19:52


Hello! What's the best way to say?

The campaign will start? Or The campaign is going to start?



Hello Romina,

Both forms are grammatically possible so it depends on the context and your intention.

  • Are you making a prediction, guess or promise? If so, will is the best option.
  • Are you describing a plan or making a logical deduction on the basis of something you see? If so, then going to is better.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Khangvo2812 on Fri, 16/02/2024 - 17:12


Could you explain the difference between using the present continuous and be going to in the sentence below to me?
I’m moving / going to move house next week.

Hello Khangvo2812,

Both forms are grammatically correct. The difference is really about how the person sees the situation. Going to implies an intention - a plan in the person's head which could still change. The present continuous implies that the situation is seen as already arranged and is not going to change.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by .Mariia on Wed, 24/01/2024 - 08:05


Hello Team,
Could you please help me with following sentence

1. _______ Anna and Steve _____________ to the party this Sunday? (come)
Wich option is better
a) Will Anna and Steve come to the party this Sunday?
b) Are Anna and Steve coming to the party this Sunday?

Hello .Mariia,

Both forms are possible. The first (with 'will') is asking for a guess or a belief. The second (with 'are coming') is asking about an arrangement (something you have arranged with Anna and Steve such as invitations and so on). In the context of the party the second (b) is more likely, I would say.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Khangvo2812 on Wed, 17/01/2024 - 13:39


Could you check this sentence for me please?
Will you work domestically or abroad after graduation?

Hi Khangvo2812,

Grammatically, the sentence is fine! Did you have a question about any specific part of it?


LearnEnglish team