Unit 11.1

Predictions with Will and To Be going to


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Introduction

The future is the tense used to predict or talk about future events.

We use the future simple  (with the auxiliary will) to express opinions, spontaneous decisions and hopes.

We use to be going to structure to express intentions for the future and make previsions which are almost sure to happen.

Form

The structures we find in predictions are will and to be going to.

They are both followed by the base of the verb in this way:
Subject + will + verb (without to) + …
Subject + are/is + going to + verb (without to) + …

NOTE: We use the future simple with thinking verb (to think, to believe, to evaluate…)

Example

Will:

  • I don’t think they will win tonight.
  • They believe he won’t get the job, he is not very competent.
  • Will she be at the hotel at 12.30?

To be going to:

  • They are driving too fast, they are going to crash.
  • It’s sunny, it is not going to rain.
  • Is he going to eat all of his sandwiches?

Use

We use future simple (will) and to be going to to make predictions, but the meaning is still slightly different.

We use future simple to make general predictions, but only when they are less probable or based on our personal judgement.

We use be going to to predict the near future which seems sure to happen.

Summary

There are two ways to talk about the future.

We use the future simple (with will) to make a general prediction and to be going to to predict the near future which seems sure to happen. They have different structures.

For example:
“I believe I will be at the airport at 22:30, my flight is at midnight.” = I am making a prediction.
“I am going to take the midnight flight.” = It is certain that I am going to take a flight at midnight.
“I am taking the midnight flight.” = We use the present continuous for future because we are expressing a fixed plan in the near future (without making a prediction).

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

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