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 (154 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.

Submitted by Howard Manzi on Tue, 25/06/2024 - 12:57

Permalink

_____ a car! They've accepted my offer today.

-I'll get

-I'm getting

In this question, I chose the first option, and it was marked incorrect. Isn't it possible that the speaker, decided to buy a car at the moment of speaking? Can you give more similar examples? For example: I will adopt a kid! I have been promoted to "Director". OR I am going to adopt a kid! I just got a promotion. Tbh, both look the same. Thanks. I await your reply.

Hello Howard Manzi,

Although both items are structurally possible in the sentence, I think the second option is clearly better for the context. The second sentence tells us the speaker's offer (presumable for the car) has been accepted, and so there is an arrangement between two parties. Present continuous is better for this meaning.

Will suggests a decision, as you say, but logically the decision to buy a car comes first and the search for a suitable car and the negotiation over price follows, so will does not match this context.

Some similar examples:

They've offered me the job! I'm moving to Berlin next week!

The renovation should finish tomorrow. We're moving into the new house this weekend.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Okay. I get you. I guess it depends on the perspective of the speaker. There might not be a relation between the two sentences. It is possible for a decision to be spontaneous. For example, the sentence I wrote earlier: I will travel to Africa! I have just gotten a pay rise. It is possible that the person just decided in that moment because of the extra money, so in that sense, wouldn't "will" be correct than using the present continuous? Thanks

Hello again Howard,

Sure it's possible to take a spontaneous decision in response to a particular event, as you say. In the original example, however, the sequence was clear: decide to make an offer > make an offer > have the offer accepted > get the car.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

Permalink

Hi,

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"?

THKS

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.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

Permalink

Hello! What's the best way to say?

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

Thanks!

 

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.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

Permalink

Hello,
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.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team