English Lesson: “Will” and “Be going to”

Michael Uncategorized 2 Comments

A friend of mine is going to get married this weekend and I have been thinking about what I’m going to wear. If it is going to be hot and humid, I don’t really want to wear a suite. However, it is a wedding so I guess I don’t have a choice. Maybe I’ll wear my tuxedo! After the wedding, they are going to go to Hawaii for their honeymoon. I am sure they will have a good time.

Today we are going to look at some ways to talk about the future in English. Do you know how to do that? Take a look at the paragraph above and then have a look at today’s lesson.

When we talk about the future, we use will and be going to. In general, we use will for the far future, and/or when there is not a definite plan:

  • Someday, I will find true love….
  • I think I will move to Florida when I retire.
  • Maybe I‘ll wear my tuxedo

Since will is used when there is not a definite plan, we can use maybe with will

Brad: What are you doing this weekend?
Angelina: I don’t know. Maybe I will clean the garage if it’s not too hot out.

We use be going to for the near future, and/or when there is a definite plan:

  • A friend of mine is going to get married this weekend
  • I am going to go to the beach this weekend.
  • Jenny is going to see a movie tonight.

In some cultures, maybe is used to soften a statement in order to make it seem less direct. In American English, we do not use maybe this way. Be careful! It sounds strange to use maybe with be going to:

Tommy: What are you going to do this weekend?
Johnny: Maybe I am going to go to the movies with Betty. This sounds strange.

When we make a prediction (or guess) about something the future, we can use either will or be going to:

  • The weatherman says it will rain all day tomorrow.
    The weatherman says it is going to rain all day tomorrow.
  • Don’t hold that knife like that. You will hurt yourself.
    Don’t hold that knife like that. You are going to hurt yourself.

When we are willing to or offer to do something we use will:

  • The phone is ringing. I will get it. (OR) I‘ll get it. (I did not have a plan to answer the phone, but it is ringing and so I am willing and offering to answer it.)
  • I am sure the doctor will give you a prescription for that cough. (I am sure the doctor is willing to give you a prescription)

Note that we do not use be going to when we express our willingness or offer.