The difference between Going to and Will

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Going to indicates a future plan that has been made before the time of speaking while will is used to show sudden decision-making at the time of speaking.

For example:

  • I am going to see the client tomorrow – we agreed a time this morning. [Conversation – Future Plan]
  • It’s cold in here. I’ll close the window. [Sudden decision-making]

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First let’s go back and revisit the Future Simple Tense

The Future Simple Tense is used for four main reasons:

  1. To make a statement of a certain future fact.
    1. The dinner party will be on Sunday evening.
    2. The report will take at least 24 hours to prepare.
  2. To make an UNCERTAIN statement about the future:
    1. I think, it’ll snow tomorrow.
    2. The meeting will be cancelled I think.
  3. For a sudden decision to do something (usually used with I or we):
    1. It’s hot in here, I’ll open the window.
    2. I think I’ll have the soup as a starter.
  4. To show willingness to do or not to do something in the future (often as a promise or a threat):
    1. I promise I’ll be at the cinema at 5pm.
    2. I’ll never call her again.

Future Simple Tense Form

Positive
I

He

She

It

We

You

They

 

 

will

 

’ll

 

 

 

Stay.

 

Question Form
Shall/will I  

 

 

Stay?

 

Will

 

he

she

it

Shall/will we
Will You

they

Going to – Form

Now we will also revisit the form of the verb going to in the positive, negative and how to make questions:

 

Positive Question Negative
I am (’m)  

 

going to pay.

Am I  

 

 

going to pay?

I am not

(’m not)

 

 

 

going to pay.

He

She

it

 

is (’s)

 

Is

he

she

it

He

She

it

is not (isn’t)

is not (isn’t)

’s not

We

You

They

 

Are (’re)

 

Are

we

you

they

We

You

They

are not

(aren’t)

’re not

Sentences and Rules for using Going to

We use going to to talk about:

  • a planned future action:
    • I’m going to see my parents on Saturday. (This use is similar to present continuous plus time word)
  • something in the future which we can see as a result of something happening now:
    • Look at those clouds. It’s going to
    • That man on the bike is going to fall off.
  • Or, to make statements about the future in a neutral way (the Future Simple can also be used):
    • The meeting is going to be on Friday at 10 am.
    • Robert is going to be 11 next month.

The contrast between Going to and Will

Sometimes it is possible to use either going to or will, but at other times only one of them is correct:

 

going to

·      future plan – decided before time of speaking I’m going to leave next week.
·      future result from present evidence He’s going to fall off his bike.
 

 

will

·      future willingness I won’t do it.
·      sudden decision made at time of speaking I’ll phone her now,
·      offer/suggestion Shall I open the door for you?
 

 

going to

or will

·      neutral future fact Danny’s going to be eight next week. Danny will be eight next week.
·      first conditional If it rains, we’re going to leave. If it rains, we’ll leave.
·      when/as soon as, etc. I’m going to phone when I arrive. I’ll phone when I arrive.