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?


NamTien2000's picture
NamTien2000 5 June, 2016 - 04:07

Hi everybody, today is Sunday. In the morning, i am studying English to prepare exam next year. After finish study, i'm watching TV. My favourite film is "Tom and Jerry". It is showed at 12p.m

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lincoln2000's picture
lincoln2000 27 May, 2016 - 12:16

Hello :)
I've been revising future forms recently and this video really helped me to understand them. There is just one question I couldn't answer myself: Why is "going to" used in the sentence "I'm just going to get a pen so we can write our plan down"? Because it isn't a prediction or a decision made before the moment of speaking. Do you use it because it's an intention? Would it be possible to use the will future because it's a decision made at the moment of speaking?
Thanks in advance!

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Jo - Coordinator's picture
Jo - Coordinator 30 May, 2016 - 08:22

Hi lincoln2000! I'm really glad you found this page helpful. You're exactly right - it is perfectly possible and natural-sounding to say 'I'll just get a pen' when it is a decision made at the moment of speaking. In this case Oliver probably decided to get a pen a few seconds before and then a moment later explained what he was doing. So for him it felt more like a plan or intention than a spontaneous decision. Does that make sense? Joanna (LearnEnglish Teens team)

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sona's picture
sona 27 April, 2016 - 18:56

Can somebody tell me which is the perfect form:"don't say a word to my dad" or "don't say a word for my dad".

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Jo - Coordinator's picture
Jo - Coordinator 25 April, 2016 - 11:06

Hi lebau123 and welcome to LearnEnglish Teens! After you write your comment you have to wait a little while for it to be moderated. We check all our comments before we publish them to make sure they don't break the House rules. We try to do it as quickly as possible and you should never have to wait more than 24 hours. Why don't you choose a page that it interesting for you and try to answer the discussion question? Looking forward to reading more of your comments! :)
Joanna (LearnEnglish Teens team)

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JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 22 April, 2016 - 14:12

Hi ferilin,
Sorry - you can't download the videos but you can watch them as often as you like online. 
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 

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Friendly's picture
Friendly 12 April, 2016 - 18:47

Hi, I like this web
What will I do tomorrow?
I don't know, perhaps I will do study in english :)

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barbiedoll10's picture
barbiedoll10 10 April, 2016 - 12:28

I am definetely going to go out to a club on Saturday with friends. Then, I will probably finsih my book "The sleeping Murder" and I will get used to drinking new Herbalife Shake :)

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Alodia121's picture
Alodia121 5 April, 2016 - 09:40

This weekend I'm going to go shopping because I have celebrations between this month and the next month. Also I'm going to meet with friend and if I got time I will finish to read the book that I started, to finish I'm going to study and do my homework but I don't really like it.

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Katana's picture
Katana 4 April, 2016 - 15:28

Hello to everyone...
Well, this weekend will be very borring; I have too much homework...
Is there anyone who would like to do it??????? :-/
Except that, I'm going to play to AGE OF EMPIRES III, and that will be the most interesting part of the weekend...8-)

THanks for reading my comment..

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Llifeisshort's picture
Llifeisshort 14 February, 2016 - 18:15

This weekend I've been studying A LOT...I mean, I didn't even get a chance to relax..I just hope that I will do good at the exams tomorrow..Hopefully, I'll get some sleep too.

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gianggiang's picture
gianggiang 12 February, 2016 - 14:35

Recently, We've learnt about "Inversion" and I find it's difficult. So, Does Learning English teen have lessons about this ? Please !

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Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 20 February, 2016 - 04:04

Hi giang. Sorry, at the moment we don't have a video on inversion. But, there is an interesting conversation here on our LearnEnglish page for adult students. Our colleagues there have given a good explanation ... see what you think!
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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AkmalHazim's picture
AkmalHazim 6 February, 2016 - 13:57

I'm going to visit my granny and spend my time with them and my family such as watch TV Drama's and we will visit other cousins.

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Ken's picture
Ken 29 January, 2016 - 14:35

I will watch some videos of TV drama series I recorded before and I'm going to do my homework. After that, I'm seeing my granny.

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LordDreamer's picture
LordDreamer 29 January, 2016 - 00:15

I guess I will spend my time learning English. Also, I'm seeing my old friend the day after tomorrow. I'm going to arrange my nearest future and try not to fall into decadence.

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sona's picture
sona 24 January, 2016 - 11:46

This weekend I am seeing my grandparents in the village and then I am finishing my homeworks for all week,because I have a mountain of subjects to learn.

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Pheanut's picture
Pheanut 24 January, 2016 - 05:27

This weekend I am going to finish my exercises and play football with my best friends . It wil be a great weekend to me.

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ENESTOKERENGWORK 16 January, 2016 - 07:29

I will visit my grandpa and grandma. Then I will go to city of center and I will play playstation in cafe. I like PES :D

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princess2001's picture
princess2001 14 January, 2016 - 09:49

As you've asked me about my plans for the weekend, so listen! My exam starts from Monday, the 18th of this month. so i'll have to do preparation for my papers on the weekend. besides, I may give some time to this site for learning and improving English or maybe I keep searching something else of my interest on net. oh yes! I remembered! my sister has asked me to go with her for shopping and collecting her identity card from National Office. so if I get free time then I'll go with her. but I don't think I'll have enough time. furthermore, I'll have to do cooking and prepare meal as it's my daily routine and can't escape this responsibility. anyway, i hope this'll be a fantastic weekend for being among my loved ones. It'll be full of content and happiness.

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ilvaii's picture
ilvaii 8 January, 2016 - 17:29

I have a lot of projects to do,so I'm going to finish them,then I'm seeing my grandmother on Sunday for a few hours.That's all!

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