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Blues Will, Be Going to

Both will and be going to express the idea of the future, and it is rarely incorrect to use either one.

There are, however, differences that might not seem important, but become more so as you become more fluent in the language. These differences are explained below. If you prefer a less detailed explanation, go here.

Note:   If you are not sure which one to use, choose "be going to." It is used for the future more often than "will."

We use will more often than "be going to" in the following situations:

1. To talk about facts, things that will be true in the future and over which we have little or no influence.

I'll be thirty next year. Wow! I feel so old.

It's just a cut. It'll soon stop bleeding and it'll heal in no time.

2.  To talk about things we know, believe, or want (or don't want) to be true in the future. It often expresses a wish or desire:

I am sure youwill get the job.

Oh no! I broke the teapot. (I'm afraid that) Mum won't be happy.

3.  To volunteer or promise to do something -- often spontaneously -- or to refuse to do something.

Hey! Wait! I'll help you move that table. You can't do it alone. It's too big and heavy.

I promise you that I will be there on time.

I will help you move the table, but I won't help you move the fridge. It's huge. We will hurt ourselves.

4.  When we realize in the present that something needs doing. That is, we are making the decision at the present moment about the future:*

Listen! The car is making a funny noise. I'll take it to a garage and they'll sort it out.

I love you. Will you marry me? I'll be the best husband in the world.

I'm tired. I think I'll go to bed.

5. Note that it can sometimes refer to the present.

She's mad at me. She won't talk to me. She'll hang up every time I call her.
(This is habitual action. We could also say "She doesn't talk to me / refuses to talk to me. She hangs up...")

We use be going to more often than "will" in the following situations:

1.  To talk about future plans, things we intend to do in the future.

So tell me, are we going to eat out or not?

My son's going to study engineering.

Jim:   Who's going to drive the truck? I don't have a license for that.
Bob: (Offering to help)   I have a license to drive trucks, so I'll drive it.

Tom:   Hey! What's with the hammer? What are you going to do?
Jim:   I'm going to repair the fence.

Note:   If it is something already confirmed or arranged -- we know when it will take place -- we often use the present tense form with -ING:
My daughter's getting married tomorrow.
We're having friends over for dinner this evening.

2.  To predict future events based on what we know or see in the present:

Look at those black clouds. It's going to rain. I hope you brought your umbrella.

Oh no! I'm late again. The boss is going to be really mad at me.

Careful! When we are speaking, we often pronounce "going to" as gonna. We may pronounce it that way, but we still write it with the spelling going to.

* We tend to use will when we are in the act of making a decision about the future. However, once we have made the decision, we tend to use be going to:

Person A:   OK. Let's agree. We'll go see a movie.
Person B:   But what movie are we going to see?

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