Grammar. 27.09.2011
Grammar Teacher

WILL versus GOING TO

Автор: Grammar Teacher

In this article I am going to cover two expressions that we use to talk about the FUTURE in English – WILL and BE GOING TO! Although the two forms look alike in sense, they often express two very different meanings. These different meanings may seem too abstract at first, but with time and practice, the differences will become clear. 

At first, I want you to read the dialog below paying attention to the usage of WILL and BE GOING TO. Let us build a context!

Martha: What horrible weather today. I'd love to go out, but I think it will just continue raining. 

Jane: Oh, I don't know. Perhaps the sun will come out later this afternoon.

Martha: I hope you're right. Listen, I'm going to have a party this Saturday. Would you like to come? 

Jane: Oh, I'd love to come. Thank you for inviting me. Who's going to come to the party?

Martha: Well, a number of people haven't told me yet. But, Peter and Mark are going to help out with the cooking! 

Jane: Hey, I'll help, too! 

Martha: Would you? That would be great!  

Jane: I'll make lasagna!

Martha: That sounds delicious! I know my Italian cousins are going to be there. I'm sure they'll love it. 

Jane: Italians? Maybe I'll bake a cake...

Martha: No, no. They're not like that. They'll love it. 

Jane: Well, if you say so... Is there going to be a theme for the party?

Martha: No, I don't think so. Just a chance to get together

Jane: I'm sure it'll be lots of fun.

Martha: But I'm going to hire a clown! 

Jane: A clown! You're kidding me.

Martha: No, no. As a child, I always wanted a clown. Now, I'm going to have a clown at my own party

Jane: I'm sure everyone will have a good laugh.

Martha: That's the plan!

 

 

 Could you guess the difference intuitively? We will check it later. Now I’d like to draw your attention to the forms:

be going to:

will:


What about the usage of these forms?

PLANS

To talk about our plans for the future, decisions or intentions made by the time of speaking (плани, рішення, наміри, прийняті до моменту мовлення) we use “going to”.

In the dialogue, Martha said I'm going to have a party and I'm going to hire a clown, because in the past she has already decided to do it, these are her preparations to the party. See more examples:

  •  We’re going to take our vacation in the winter this year, not the summer. We’ve already planned a trip to Antarctica.
  • Who is going to make John's birthday cake?
  • A: What about your mother’s birthday?
    B: I’m going to get her a new mop.

There’s a good song by Jamie Cullum called Next Year Baby where you can find a lot of sentences with GONNA. This is a contracted (short) form of GOING TO, it is informal and used only in oral speech. Let’s check the lyrics:

 Next Year,  Things are gonna change,
Gonna drink less beer
And start all over again
Gonna pull up my socks
Gonna clean my shower
Not gonna live by the clock
But get up at a decent hour
Gonna read more books
Gonna keep up with the news
Gonna learn how to cook

 

So the main difference between WILL and BE GOING TO is that BE GOING TO expresses something that has been planned whereas WILL expresses a sudden decision (раптове рішення). In the dialogue, the phrases, I'll helpMaybe I'll bake a cakeI'll make lasagna! mean that all these actions weren’t planned in advance, the girls made these decisions on the spot (на місці).

 

 

WILL often suggests that a speaker will do something voluntarily (добровільно). A voluntary action is one the speaker offers to do for someone else.

A: The phone’s ringing
B: I’ll get it 

Speaker B has made no plan to answer the phone. He’s, instead, volunteering to answer the phone and uses “will” to show his willingness (готовність до дії).

We also use WILL to express our promises, offers, requests like in the following examples:

 

  • I'll never speak to him again.
  • I promise I'll be there.
  • Will you help me with the dishes?

 Compare more:

 

  The Helen’s father made an immediate decision, he didn’t know about the tire before Helen told him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helen’s father has already decided to fix the bicycle, so he says to his wife that he is going to fix it tomorrow. 

 Now let’s watch the video dedicated to this grammar point: 


PREDICTIONS

In our dialogue, the girls often express their opinion about the future weather, party, etc.They make predictions (statements about something they think will be true or will happen in the future):

  •  I think it will just continue raining. 
  • Perhaps the sun will come out later this afternoon.
  • I'm sure they'll love it. 
  • I'm sure it'll be lots of fun.
  • I'm sure everyone will have a good laugh.

 

 As you can see, to make predictions about the future, we mostly use WILL, especially if these predictions are based on our opinion and we use such phrases as I hope, I believe, I’m sure, I think, or we are not 100 % certain and that’s why use phrases like perhaps, maybe, probably…

  • I'm not sure he'll be there.
  • I hope she’ll be in London next week.
  • Perhaps, they won’t tell us the truth.

 

 If our prediction is based not just on our personal opinion, but there is some evidence (доказ) – something in the present situation that shows us what will happen in the future (especially near future), we use GOING GO.  In this case, the speaker feels sure about what will happen because of the situation now.

For example, you SEE a person who is very close to a roof edge. He or she is not afraid, but you start to panic, because you SEE that the person may fall at any moment.  So you say:

“Step back! You are going to fall down!” 

The key word here is SEE. You see the situation which is dangerous and this allows you to make a prediction.
Here are more examples to support this rule:

 

 

She’s going to have a baby (We see her big belly and it is our evidence)
Look at these clouds. It’s going to rain.
Liverpool is going to win the game. (The game is almost over and the score is 2:0).

Do not use WILL in situations like these! And now watch the video to make sure you got it!

NB: If there’s a neutral (нейтральний) future fact that you want to tell about, you can use both forms:

 

Danny's going to be eight next week.
Danny will be eight next week

 

I hope this lesson was a useful one for you!

Let’s check it. Do the exercises below to see if you can differentiate between WILL and GOING TO:

www.better-english.com/grammar/willgo.htm

 www.englisch-hilfen.de/en/exercises/tenses/will_going_to_future.htm

www.englishlab.net/hp/quiz22_will_going_to_1.htm 

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