Recently we looked at difference between USED TO and PAST SIMPLE when talking about past events. Now let’s continue improving your English Grammar and learn how to talk about things that have not yet occurred.
There are a few ways you can talk about future events in English.
WILL or BE GOING TO or THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS?
We can talk about the future using the following forms – Present Continuous, Will or Be going to.
- Will – I’ll make you a cup of tea.
- Be going to – It’s going to rain.
- Present continuous – I’m coming tomorrow.
Sometimes the difference between them is small, but you need to remember the following points. So what is the difference between WILL and BE GOING TO?
When to use BE GOING TO
We usually use be going to when:
We talk about something that is about to happen because we’ve already made a decision
- Sarah wants to do something different, she is going to look for a different job. (she has already decided)
- Next year I am going to travel around the world. (I have made a decision)
We expect something to happen as there is an evidence in the present
- The plane is going to land soon.
- I am going to have lunch now.
In very informal English and in songs going to is often pronounced as gonna.
When to use WILL (Future Simple)
We usually use will when:
We haven’t made a decision yet, or we make a prediction
We often use words such as think, probably, sure, suppose, definitely, doubt, bet (informal), reckon (informal).
- I think I’ll buy her some perfume as a birthday present. (I haven’t decided yet)
- I doubt they will win this match. (It is expected to happen)
When we make offers or suggestions
- I’ll look after the kids on Saturday.
- I’ll get this book for you now.
IMPORTANT we also use the form Shall I/Shall we to make offers or suggestions
Shall we go to the match on Sunday?
Shall I wear a white shirt tonight?
When we make a decision at the time of speaking (for example, we make a promise)
- I will pick you up at 8.30 a.m.
- Can you lend me your camera please? I promise I won’t break it.
When we talk about events that are certain to happen in the future
- New Year’s Day will fall on a Friday next year.
- I will be 30 years old in October.
IMPORTANT Positive form – I will (I’ll); Negative form – I will not (I won’t)
When to use the Present Continuous Tense
We usually use the Present Continuous Tense when:
We have already made arrangements to do something
- Ann just let me know that she’s staying overnight with her friends.
- I’ve seen Sharon recently and she’s having another baby in June.
We explain why we can’t do something in the future
- I can’t come to the cinema with you tonight, I am going to visit my parents.
- Jake is not available for the game on Sunday, he is going away.
In case you prefer video English learning, here are 2 English Grammar video lessons for you:
1. What is the difference between WILL and BE GOING TO?
2. How to use Present Tense to talk about the Future in English?
Don’t forget to read my other grammar posts and enjoy Learning English Grammar online
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