Intentions and Arrangements
in the Future
There are many different ways to talk about
the future in English. We use different verb
tenses depending on what we want to say
about the future.
In this lesson, we will learn how to talk
about intentions and arrangements in the
An intention is something that we would like to do in
the future. These are general plans for the future.
When we are talking about an intention, we have not
taken specific, concrete steps to achieve the action.
We are just talking about something that we hope to
do in the future.
When we want to talk about our intentions in the
future, we must use the future with going to.
This is the most correct way to talk about general
plans for the future.
Correct: Someday, I'm going to learn how to
Incorrect: Someday, I will learn how to dance!
We don't generally use the simple future with will
to talk about intentions. The best way to talk about
intentions is with the future with going to.
Review the rules on how to form the future with
going to here before reviewing the examples
Bill is so tired! He is going to take a nice, long
vacation this year.
(Bill doesn't have any specific plan for a vacation.
He just knows he needs one!)
I'm going to learn to swim and dive so I won't feel
(He doesn't know when or how he will learn, but he
would like to.)
Ron says he is going to start eating healthy
(He has no specific diet plan or a date to change
the way he eats.)
I know smoking is bad for me. I'm going to quit
sometime this year.
(He doesn't know when he will quit, but he wants
He is going to be just like his father when he
(He would like to be just like his father when he
is a grown man.)
An arrangement is a specific plan that we have for the
future. We have taken real steps to be sure we
achieve this plan.
For example, we have called to reserve a table at a
restaurant or we have bought a plane ticket.
When we are talking about arrangements, we use the
Correct: I'm seeing my doctor tomorrow afternoon at 3
o'clock. I made the appointment last week.
Incorrect: I will see my doctor tomorrow afternoon at 3
o'clock. I made the appointment last week.
Because we have made an appointment with the doctor,
this is an arrangement. We must use the present
progressive to talk about arrangements, not the simple
future with will.
Review the rules and formation of the present
progressive here before reading the examples below.
Christina is meeting Melanie for coffee this
afternoon. They reserved a table at their favorite
(They made specific plans and reserved the table
ahead of time.)
Denny is starting a new job on Monday. He just had
his final interview. He's excited!
(Denny has made all the arrangements at the office
and signed a contract.)
Brad is having a garage sale this weekend. He's put
out signs and organized everything he wants to sell.
(He has advertised for the garage sale. It is set for
Maggie and Ginger are going to the vet this
afternoon at 6 o'clock. It's time for Ginger's annual
(They already have an appointment with the vet.)
Fred and Joe are traveling to Las Vegas in July.
They have their tickets and are very happy about
(They have already bought tickets and made
reservations for a specific date.)
The difference between an intention and an
arrangement is the amount of planning we have
If we only have a general idea of something we
would like to do in the future, it is an intention. In
this case, we must use the future with going to.
If we have specific plans, reservations, or an
appointment, we are talking about an
arrangement. In this case, we must use the
Simple future with (be going to)
be going to + base form of the verb (also called V1)
is + going to + swim --> "She is going to swim later."
This is usually the first future form students learn.
A) It is used when talking about future plans.
"I am going to visit my grandparents next week."
"I'm not going to eat at that restaurant again. It
B) It is also used to talk about future predictions if
they are based on existing evidence.
"Look at those black clouds. I think it is going to rain."
A) You can use the present progressive to talk about
When a plan becomes an arrangement – it is in the
appointment book, tickets are booked or other
arrangements are made – then we often use the
"I'm playing soccer tonight. Do you want to come and
"My friends are getting married next week. I'm really
The difference between the future using 'going
to' and the future using the present progressive
is often very small if you are talking about plans.
Sometimes either form would be correct.