4 differences between going to and will

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4 differences between going to and will4 differences between going to and will. In previous lessons about using the future simple (The future simple with be going to in Level A1 and The future simple with will in Level A2), we have looked at some of the rules for will and going to. In this lesson, we will add 2 new rules, but before we look at the new rules, let’s review what we have already covered:

  • We use going to to talk about a future that we have already decided on (‘I‘m going to watch a film with John tonight’)
  • We use will to talk about a future that we have just decided on as we speak (Is John on town? In that case, I‘ll go with you!)

Now let’s add 2 more rules. Take a look at the sentences below and see if you can identify the difference in meaning between them:

  • He’s driving too fast – he’s going to crash!
  • This government will win the next election.

The difference is in the evidence – that is, something you can see, hear or identify as the reason why something will occur in the future. If you have some evidence for your prediction, use going to. If you are guessing (predicting), or you just have the opinion that something will happen, use will.

  • He’s driving too fast – he’s going to crash! (the evidence is you can see now that he’s driving too fast)
  • This government will win the next election. (no specific evidence, you just think they will win).
  • Look at these statistics – it shows the government is going to win the next election (the statistics are the evidence)

Let’s look at some more examples:

  • It’s going to rain – look at those clouds! (we can see the clouds)
  • Why don’t you ask your boss for a day off? I’m sure he will say yes. (the speaker probably thinks the boss is a nice person – no evidence, they just think so)
  • I think she’ll get married by the end of the year – they seem so in love! (nobody has said they will – the speaker just thinks they will)
  • I think they’re going to get married – she was looking at wedding dresses online yesterday. (the evidence is that the person was looking at dresses online)

So let’s quickly review the 4 differences between going to and will:

  1. GOING TO – to talk about a future plan that has already been decided
  2. WILL – to talk about a future plan that is decided at the time of speaking
  3. GOING TO – there is evidence to say that something will happen in the future
  4. WILL – the speaker thinks or predicts that something will happen (there may be no evidence to support this)

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