Oliver and Alfie decide to enter a bike race.

We have different ways of talking about the future. We often use going to (+ infinitive), the present continuous (to be + -ing) or will (+ infinitive). The structure we use depends on the function of what we want to say, whether we are talking about arrangements, plans, predictions, etc..

I thought will was the future tense in English.

It’s one of the ways of talking about the future, but there are a few others. Let’s look at will to start with. We use will / won’t (= will not) + the infinitive for predictions about the future.

Oliver’ll be back soon.
We won’t be ready.
Do you think it’ll rain this afternoon?

We also use will when we decide something at the moment of speaking.

(The doorbell rings) I’ll get it.

So, you sometimes use the verb think before will?

Yes, that’s very common. We also use: don’t think, expect, be + sure.

I’m sure you’ll have a good time.

You said will is used for decisions made at the moment of speaking. What about decisions made before the moment of speaking?

Then we can use either the present continuous or going to (+ infinitive).

Amy’s coming round.
We’re going to watch a film – want to join us?
What are you doing this evening?    

Is there a difference between them?

We use the present continuous more for arrangements with other people and be + going to + infinitive for intentions. Sometimes it’s important to choose the right structure, but often we could use either because many events are both arrangements and intentions.

Amy’s coming round. (= arrangement between Amy and Daisy)
Amy’s going to come round. (= Amy’s intention)
I’m going to clean my room tonight. (= intention)
I’m cleaning my room tonight. (not an arrangement)

So could I say 'I’m going to go to the cinema with Alex'?

Yes, that’s correct. But we usually avoid saying going to go, just because it doesn’t sound very elegant. We normally use the present continuous with go.

I’m going to the cinema with Alex.

And 'I will go to the cinema with Alex'?

No. We don’t use will for arrangements or intentions if the decision was made before the moment of speaking.

Oh, yes, you told me that before. Anything else?

Yes, there’s another use of going to. We use it for predictions too, especially when you can see something happening or about to happen.

Look out! You’re going to spill that coffee.

Can you use going to for other predictions?

Yes, sometimes both will and going to can be used.

I think the Green Party will win the election.
I think the Green Party are going to win the election.

OK, and one last thing! Is it correct to say, ‘When’s the race?’ That’s present simple, isn’t it?

Yes. You can use present simple for timetabled events.

My plane leaves at 4pm tomorrow.
The match starts at 8pm.

Phew! So sometimes you can use going to or the present continuous and sometimes you can use will or going to. And you can also use present simple for timetabled events. I’ll never understand the future!

I’m sure you will! You’re using it correctly already.


What are your plans for this weekend?


donya123's picture
donya123 13 August, 2015 - 20:07

I am watching a Movie this weekend with my family and hanging out with friends. I will prefer a drink with my boyfriend then anything else. Ofcourse I will have good time with them and I will join every second?

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Wichaan's picture
Wichaan 1 August, 2015 - 16:31

I'm going to stay at home and rest. I have a holiday!
But I think I'll learn English. I like it :)

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jouk's picture
jouk 31 July, 2015 - 08:53

this week I'm very happy and a bit worried because I'm going to sign up for a new college at university best wishes for me and you too.

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Elsa007's picture
Elsa007 31 July, 2015 - 17:02

Oops, and my plans for this weekend? Well, I'm going to unwind myself at home...! ツ

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KingWolf99's picture
KingWolf99 16 July, 2015 - 19:38

This weekend I'm going to the cinema with my friends. We're watching "Babadook". Then, we're going out for a meel.

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jouk's picture
jouk 31 July, 2015 - 08:23

hi Iam new here and I don't know so much aboat the grammar. can you please help to learn it?

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eunyee's picture
eunyee 27 May, 2015 - 06:27

May l know why l cannot watch the videos from this website included this video. I'm using Safari web browser. Hope your guys can help me solve the problem.Thank you=D

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Tina - Coordinator's picture
Tina - Coordinator 27 May, 2015 - 16:32

Hi eunyee,
Thank you for letting us know. I've just tested it and it's working fine for me. You could try using a different browser and see it that works. The videos in Video Zone come from YouTube. Do you know if YouTube is blocked in your country?
Best wishes, Tina (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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hanhdong's picture
hanhdong 19 May, 2015 - 04:00

I'm going to go the Cu Lao Cham Island with my friends this weekend. I think it'll be funny and experience :)

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