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?


Andrii's picture
Andrii 4 November, 2020 - 19:04

I think I'm going to do my homework, tidy my room and play computer game. Maybe, I'll also meet my friend.

0 users have voted.
paradise_2006's picture
paradise_2006 4 September, 2020 - 20:25

I don't have any big plans for this weekend, though I'm planing to clean my cupboard coz it's awfully messed-up.

1 user has voted.
BttChiara's picture
BttChiara 2 April, 2020 - 20:59

This weekend I'm going to stay at home and I'm going to do all my homework(I have to stay at home because of quarantine... It's really sad!):"(

1 user has voted.
MatildePace's picture
MatildePace 2 April, 2020 - 15:49

I have no big plans for this weekend because I will be at home in quarantine. I think I will sleep, do my homework and be with my family.

1 user has voted.
Desy's picture
Desy 1 April, 2020 - 13:53

For this weekend I haven't got any plans, because I'm in the quarantine for the Corona Virus and I can't go out.

1 user has voted.
gattifederica's picture
gattifederica 31 March, 2020 - 20:41

This weekend I’m staying at home because of the Coronavirus. I’m studying, do my homework, watching films and TV series and cooking a chocolate cake. I’m chatting with my friends, I listening to music and reading a book. Absolutely, I’m tidying my room because it’s untidy.

2 users have voted.
caromoreira04's picture
caromoreira04 24 March, 2020 - 13:59

I don't have any big plans for this weekens. I'm going to make some cakes and watch some tv series. I hope I'll finish reading the book.

1 user has voted.
gio_cra2004's picture
gio_cra2004 24 March, 2020 - 13:48

In this period you cannot go out because there is an emergency, so on the weekend I will help my mother to make the cake for father's birthday who turns fifty years.

1 user has voted.
ftrifi227's picture
ftrifi227 24 March, 2020 - 13:41

I don't have a plan for this weekend because i'm in quarantine for the Corona Virus, who unfortunately hit Italy.
So i think i will stay at home and i will play at playstation.

1 user has voted.
anna_v3r's picture
anna_v3r 24 March, 2020 - 12:12

In this period we are in quarantine so I'll cook something for my family, like a cake or biscuits and then I'll help my mother with chores.

1 user has voted.
myriam's picture
myriam 24 November, 2019 - 04:05

I will visit my family because my grandparents live far away and I have not seen for a long time. We are going to walk in the park and we are going to eat ice cream.

1 user has voted.
maxamulet1000's picture
maxamulet1000 9 May, 2019 - 14:57

I have a plan for this weekend. I am going to sports field to play football with my uncle.

1 user has voted.
KasiaAmulet1000's picture
KasiaAmulet1000 23 April, 2019 - 10:29

I will relax on the phone, i will play game and I will go out with friend. Maybe I will go swimming.

0 users have voted.
AnnAmulet1000's picture
AnnAmulet1000 23 April, 2019 - 10:29

I will ride motorbike in the forest and I will drive to my aunt with my family.
I will meet my friends. Maybe I will bake cake.

0 users have voted.
Youjiro's picture
Youjiro 2 February, 2019 - 10:18

I will tell one of my friend with Skype. some of my friend live in another prifecture to learn good education.I keep in touch regularly ,Nowadays We talk about learning English ,because We have got low score in previous exam. Nowadays I use British council every day. Additionally I'll watch football game in my room.football is passionate sports .I regularly watch premier league every weekend. Watching football in my room is like a supporter.I have never go to football stadium, because There are so many supporter and loud voice.It is not comfortable.

0 users have voted.
Grani2222's picture
Grani2222 22 November, 2018 - 21:35

I've some plans for the weekend. I'm going to meet my friend and we're going to
trampolines park. I'm going to go for a walk with my second friend or maybe we'll drink a coffe or something. On Sunday this time I'll have done my math presentation or my English essay. I'm doing pizza with my BF and friends on Sunday evening.

0 users have voted.