Unit 2.2

Future with Will or Be going to

Verbs

The future is the tense used to predict or express future events.

We use the future simple to express spontaneous decisions, opinions and hopes {see Future Simple, A2 level}.

Be going to is used to express intentions for the future and make previsions based on signs we see at that moment {see Be going to, A1 level}.

Simple future (will) and be going to have different structures for the three forms:

Affirmative forms:

  • Simple future: Subject + will + verb + …
  • Be going to: Subject + to be + going to + verb + …

Negative forms:

  • Simple future: Subject + will + not + verb + …
  • Be going to: Subject + to be + not + going to + verb + …

Interrogative forms:

  • Simple future: Will + subject + verb + …?
  • Be going to: To be + subject + going to + verb + …?

Simple future:

Decision at the moment of speaking

  • We don’t have any bread for dinner. I will go and buy some from the bakery.

Invitations

  • Will you come with us to meet the president?

Needs/duties/future events

  • You will have to pay with cash if you buy clothes under 50 euros.

Offers

  • will help you to make these photocopies.

Predictions based on opinions

  • He thinks that being retired will be boring.

Promises

  • I promise I will never talk to the boss about this! 

Requests

  • The telephone is ringing. Will you answer it please?

Sentences containing the adverbs: probably, certainly, perhaps

  • will certainly come to the party.
  • He probably won’t finish writing his CV in time.
  • Perhaps we will need a new printer soon. This one is getting so slow.

Threats

  • If you don’t send an email, I will not talk to you again.

Be going to:

Decision before the moment of speaking/planned activity

  • We don’t have paper for the printer. I am going to get some.

Predictions based on evidence about the near future

  • This business isn’t going to fail. It’s a multinational corporation!

We use simple future to express:

  • ecisions made while speaking;
  • Invitations;
  • Needs/duties/future events;
  • Offers;
  • Predictions based on opinions;
  • Promises;
  • Requests;
  • Sentences containing the adverbs: probably, certainly, perhaps;
  • Threats.

We use be going to to express:

  • Decision made before the moment of speaking, already planned events or activities;
  • Predictions based on evidence about the near future.

Simple future (will) and be going to are two forms of the future tense, which differ in meaning and form.

  • We use the future simple to express predictions, beliefs or intentions about the future.
  • We use be going to to express commands, predictions and things that are about to happen.

For example:
— “This printer will probably cost you 70 euros. I heard that it is the usual price.” = We are not certain about the price, we’re just making a guess and therefore we use future simple.
— “This printer is going to cost 70 euros. I checked the price tag.” = We are certain about the price, therefore we use be going to.

NOTE: Certain situations require the be going to structure, whereas others require the future simple.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

License

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