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Future Tenses - Will vs. Going to

When to use "will" and when to use "going to" for expressing the future is a very confusing concept for some English learners. Both of these terms refer to the future but there is a slight difference between them. Let's take a look at the differences in the infographic below.

Grammar Corner Future Tenses - Will vs. Going to

 

When to use "Going to" 

The structure "be going to" is normally used to indicate the future but with some type of connection to the present. It can be used in the following situations:

1. When we have already decided or we INTEND to do something in the future. (Prior Plan)

The decision has been made before the moment of speaking, for example:

  • They're going to retire - in fact they have already bought a little house by the lake.
  • She is going to accept the job offer.

 

2. When there are definite signs that something is going to happen. (Evidence)

Something is likely to happen based on the evidence or experience you have, for instance:

  • I think it is going to rain - I just felt a drop.
  • She does't look well. I think she's going to throw up.

 

3. When something is about to happen:

  • Get inside! The tornado is going to hit.

 

When to use "Will" 

In other cases, where there is no implicit or explicit connection to the present, use "will":

1. For things that we decide to do now. (Rapid Decisions)

This is when you make a spontaneous decision in that moment - without having prior intention.

  • I'll buy one for you too.
  • I think I'll try one of those. (I just decided this right now)

 

2. When we think or believe something about the future. (Prediction)

  • The team will not win the championship this season.
  • I think it will rain later so take an umbrella with you.

Note: You can use both "will" and "going to" for making future predictions.

 

3. To make an offer, a promise or a threat.

  • I'll give you an apple for free if you buy 10 right now.
  • I promise I will behave next time.
  • She'll take you to the movies if you'd like.

 

4. You use "won't" (will not) when someone/something refuses to do something.

  • I told him to do his homework but he won't do it.
  • My dogs won't listen to anything I say.
  • The boat won't start.

 

Future Predictions

As you can see, both Will and Going to can be used for making future predictions without having a real difference in meaning.

  • The weatherman says it will rain tomorrow. (Correct)
  • The weatherman says it is going to rain tomorrow. (Correct)

 

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