Talking about the Future 3
Grammar Activation Pack 14
Going To for Future
The second most common way, after will, of talking about the future in English is by the use of be going to.
- The festivities are going to start next week.
Notice that going is the ing form of the verb to go.
I have already shown how an –ing form needs the finite verb be to form the continuous aspect.
Be going to is the present continuous and acts as an auxiliary verb, like will, to talk about the future.
We use be going to to talk about future things which are already planned.
- I am going to make another English Activation Pack tomorrow.
- She is going to talk to him tonight.
- When are you going to sell your house?
- I am never going to move back to the UK.
Here we are talking about plans or intentions that are already in place, or decisions that have already been made.
We use be going to to talk about future things which we can predict from present evidence.
- She is going to have a baby.
The evidence is that she is pregnant.
- It is going to rain
The evidence is the dark skies building overhead.
- We are all going to die!
The evidence is the tiger walking towards you.
Present Continuous or Be Going To
There is often no difference in meaning between be going to and the present continuous.
- I’m going to have a bath this evening.
- I’m having a bath this evening.
- I’m going to see the doctor this afternoon.
- I’m seeing the doctor this afternoon.
It is more common to use be going to when we are talking about intentions, and decisions we have already made.
- I’m going to tell her how I feel.
Events Outside our Control
When we talk about events that are outside of our control, we tend to use be going to NOT the present continuous.
- It’s going to rain this evening.
It’s raining this evening.
- I fear things are going to get worse before they get better.
I fear things are getting worse before they get better.
- The volcano is going to erupt in the next few days according to the scientists.
The volcano is erupting in the next few days according to the scientists.
We use the present perfect more for personal arrangements.
Not Much Difference
Sometimes there is not much difference, if any, between using will, or be going to when talking about the future.
- I think it’s going to rain tomorrow.
- I think it’ll rain tomorrow.
- It’s probably going to be sunny tomorrow.
- It’ll probably be sunny tomorrow.
Only when we have evidence that something is going to happen should we prefer be going to.
In spoken English, going to is often pronounced as gonna.
In American English in particular, it is often written as gonna, too.
- I’m going to speak to him tonight.
- I’m gonna speak to him tonight.
- I’m not going to tell you again.
- I’m not gonna tell you again.
We can say that we are going to do something in the immediate future by using be about to.
- I’m about to arrive at the airport.
- They are about to leave.
- I am not about to tell you anything.
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