Monday, May 28, 2007

“Going to” and the Future Tense

The Simple Future tense is formed by adding “will” before the base of the verb. For example, “I will study the Simple Future next week,” or “She will help me learn the Simple Future.” It doesn’t matter what the subject is; just put “will” after the subject and before the base form of the verb.

However, there is another way to talk about the future. I can use the Present Progressive form “to be going to” to talk about the future. I can say, “I’m going to study the Simple Future tense next week,” or “She’s going to help me study the Simple Future tense.”

What’s the difference? Sometimes the difference is so slight that either way can be used to express the future. Generally, however, “will” is used for future predictions. “Going to” is used when there is a definite plan. For example, “I’ll get home at 8 p.m. tonight.” This is my prediction. Traffic may delay me. “I’m going to meet friends after work.” This is a plan. Things may change, but it is still a plan that I’ve made.

These two uses are often confusing for ESL learners, especially since sometimes either one is correct. The most firm rule is that English speakers use “going to” to talk about plans they have already made. Most other expressions of the future can use “will.”

See Will and Be Going To for more info.


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