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 (154 votes)

Hello Dilek,

Yes, I think you are right. We'll revise this one and change it to something clearer soon.

Thanks for your feedback!

Best wishes,
LearnEnglish team


Hello OmarAlley,

English has many ways to talk about the future but does not have a single future tense, and the differences between the various ways are often based on context and intention so it can be tricky to identify differences like this.

Generally speaking, we use will + verb (as in the second sentence) when we are describing a belief, a hope or a decision. We would use the second sentence to ask about these things, for example in a context in which the other person doesn't have any plans yet.

We use am/is/are verbing (as in the first sentence) to describe plans which are already organised or arranged. We would use the first sentence when we think the speaker already knows their future and has set it up (signed a contract, bought a ticket etc).



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Alana_22 on Wed, 16/08/2023 - 00:54


I really got the explanation, from now on, I'll just try to memorize what "will" and "going to" means. :>

Submitted by ashrafyusif on Fri, 14/07/2023 - 13:05


In the explanation you say:
We often use the present continuous to ask about people's future plans.
as in:
Are you doing anything interesting this weekend?

But in the test your answer to the following question is different!

What _____ when you finish university?
are you going to do
are you doing

Hello ashrafyusif,

Thanks for pointing this out to us. We will make that question more clear so that only one answer is correct. Right now, without context, you are right in thinking that both answers could be correct.

The first answer suggests that we think the student doesn't yet have a fully arranged plan; the second answer suggests that we think the student does have an arranged plan. But there's not enough context in this sentence for you to be able to know which is correct.

We will definitely fix this, but at the moment we aren't able to change our exercises for technical reasons. But I've made a note so that we come back and fix this as soon as we can.

Thanks again for taking the time to ask us about this.

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by DSL1817 on Sat, 10/06/2023 - 15:25


Hello! In the following sentence which is the best option?
I know I xxxxxx (forget) everything in the exam and I xxxxx (not write) anything.

Hello DSL1817,

Since you're asking on our future forms page, I suppose this refers to the future. I'd say 'am going to forget' and 'am not going to write' or 'will forget' and 'won't write'.

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Wow! I'm surprised, the questions are 'in' the exam.
Using 'in' here is perfectly correct.

Perhaps the difference is BR v. US English, but please don't mislead people.

Hello Parlour,

Fair enough. It sounds odd to me, but as you say, perhaps it's my variety of English. I've edited my reply.

My apologies for any confusion.

Best wishes,
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Shawnyin7751 on Tue, 17/01/2023 - 16:14


Hello LearningEnglish Team,

I'd like to know if can I say that using WILL means that people are more likely to do something than using GOING TO...... ? Thank you.