In English there are several different ways to talk about the future. However, future forms with will and going to are the most common among these. Although both of these structures are used to talk about future, there is an important difference between them.
The forms with will (simple future tense) are mainly used to make simple predictions about the future. It is also used to talk about our reactions to events that happen at the moment of speaking.
- I think she will come. (Simple prediction about a future event)
- ‘There is the doorbell.’ ‘I will go.’ (Reaction to an event occurred at the moment of speaking.)
- ‘Don’t call me names. I will hit you.’ (Reaction)
The structure with going to is mainly used to talk about our plans and intentions.
- I am going to tell her what I think about her. (Intention)
- She will go mad when you tell her the truth. (Simple prediction)
- I am going to take a holiday at the end of this month. (Intention / plan)
- I will probably enjoy the holiday. (Simple prediction)
Going to is also used to predict future based on present evidence.
- Look at the sky. It is going to rain. (More natural than ‘It will rain.’)
Here we are predicting future based on evidence already present.
Start learning future forms by talking about your future plans and your thoughts about the future. Use going to talk about your plans and will to show your reactions to them.
- I am going to take a foreign vacation next month. (Plan / intention)
- It will probably be expensive. (Prediction)
- I am going to visit countries like Malaysia and Thailand. (Intention)
- I will probably meet interesting people there. (Prediction)
Future with ‘Will’ for Reactions
We have already learned that future with ‘will’ is used to talk about our reactions. Think about the various scenarios that call for reactions.
- ‘It’s cold outside.’ ‘OK. I will wear my coat.’
- ‘I’m hungry.’ ‘I will get you something to eat.’
- ‘I can’t solve this problem.’ ‘I will help.’
After will, we use the base form of the verb.