Will, Be going to, present continuous,
….. What a mess!
What’s the difference?
I’ll have a salad, please.
Tomorrow night I’m having lunch with Peter.
We use will when there is no prior plan or decision to do something before we speak. We make
the decision at the time of speaking.
We often use will with the verb think:
I think I'll go to the gym tomorrow.
I think I'll have a holiday next year.
I don't think I'll buy that car.
We use the present continuous only when a plan exists (arrangements) before we
The verb be is an exception with will. Even when we have a very firm plan, and we
are not speaking spontaneously, we can use will with be. Look at these examples:
I will be in London tomorrow.
There will be 50 people at the party.
The meeting will be at 9.30 am.
What’s the difference?
People won’t get to Jupiter before the 22nd century.
Look there! This kid is going to fall down the tree.
We often use will to make a prediction about the future. Again, there is no firm plan.
We are saying what we think will happen.
We can make our predictions stronger or weaker using some adverbs such as
definitely, certainly, probably or possibly (don’t use possible!):
She’ll certainly finish her degree next June.
I probably won’t be back till Wednesday morning.
NOTE: The position of the adverb changes according to the type of sentence:
+ between WILL and VERB
- before WON’T
We often use be going to to make a prediction about the future. Our prediction is
based on evidence. We are saying what seems sure to happen.
Other uses of “WILL”
We often use will to make a promise.
I’ll always love you.
I’ll pay you back tomorrow.
We use shall to offer ourselves to do something:
Shall I open the window?
Also, to make suggestions:
Shall we go for a drink tonight?
When you ask another person to do something for you, use will:
Will you close the window, please?
In time clauses, use present simple after When, as soon as, until, in case … and
will in the other clause:
I’ll call him as soon as I get home.
When I’m at home, I’ll put on my slippers and relax in the sofa.
Be going to or present continuous?
We use the special be going to construction when we have the intention to do
something before we speak. We have already made a decision before speaking.
Look at these examples:
I have won $1,000. I am going to buy a new TV.
We're not going to see my mother tomorrow.
When are you going to go on holiday?
In these examples, we had an intention or plan before speaking. The decision was
made before we spoke.
Sometimes there is no real difference between an intention (going to) and a plan,
arrangement (present continuous). In this case, it doesn't matter which we use.
We're going to paint the bedroom tomorrow.
We're painting the bedroom tomorrow.
With “COME” and “GO” we often use present continuous instead of “be going to”:
Next weekend we’re going to Madrid.
When are you coming to Spain?
MIGHT/ COULD & LIKELY TO
She is likely to come next month. She is looking for a cheap
flight on the Internet.
She might/ could come but she isn’t sure yet.
We use “likely to” for a probable intention or prediction.
We use “might” or “could” for an intention or prediction that is
Present Simple for schedules
When an event is on a schedule or timetable (for example, the take-off
time for a plane), we often use the present simple to express the future.
We usually also use a future word (expressed or understood) like tomorrow,
at 6.30pm, next week.
Only a few verbs are used in this way, for example:
be, open, close, begin, start, end, finish, arrive, come, leave, return
What’s the best alternative?
We are going/ might go to Venezuela on holiday this year. I booked
We’ll probably / we’re going camping but we’re not sure yet.
On Saturday, I’m meeting / I’ll meet some friend for lunch.
In the future I’m using / I’m going to use English to get a better job.
I think it’s raining / it will rain this weekend.
My last bus home goes / is going at five past midnight.
There’s no lesson next week? In that case I’m going to stay / I’ll stay at home
I always carry a torch in my bag in case I need / I’ll need it.
I’m likely to finish / I probably will finish my degree next June, if I study hard.
Complete the conversations with an appropriate form
of the verb in brackets. There might be more than one
A: So, are you looking forward to your Nile trip?
B: Yes, and Francesco says he …. (learn) Arabic in five weeks!
A: ….(you/do) anything interesting next summer?
B: Yes, ….we (go) to New Zealand in July.
A: The plane ….(land) very early on Friday morning.
B: When’s the first tour?
A: As soon as we …(get) there, I think.
A: It’s in Thailand, and it says here, “….(rain) every afternoon, but expect to
walk 20 km. A day, rain or shine”
B: I expect it …(be) quite hard work.
A: I don’t know. I … (check) with Tess. She was over there last year.
A: We ….(go) to Ukraine this year, we haven’t decided yet.
B: Sounds interesting
A: Yes, and then we ….(stop off) in Poland and see Magda on the way home.
Other ways of referring to the
This is used to describe formal arrangements:
The president of the States is to come next month.
BE ABOUT TO / BE ON THE POINT OF/ BE ON THE VERGE OF:
they refer to the next moment (near future events):
I think the play is about to start / is on the point of starting
BE DUE TO:
it refers to scheduled times:
Ann’s flight is due at 5.
BE BOUND TO:
To talk about things considered inevitable:
He’s bound to pass his test. He’s been studying for a month
We sometimes just use the verb TO BE together with adjectives such as
imminent, forthcoming, impending, …. However, it might sound formal and
often only in written language.
What’s the difference?
It’ll rain tomorrow
Tomorrow at 5, It’ll be raining
By tomorrow evening, It’ll have rained.
Future continuous describes an event which will be happening
at a future point.
Future perfect is used to say that something will be finished
before a certain time in the future.
This tense is frequently used with the time expressions “by
Saturday / March …” or “in two weeks (‘ time) /
months(‘ time) …..”