PEARTREE LIFE: Experiencing Languages

A peak into the future

Will or going to?

Recently, our students looked at the difference between will and going to in English for Lunch. Let’s look at a couple of scenarios, somewhat adapted from Jim Scrivener, to illustrate the difference between the two tenses:

First, imagine that a group of students has just decided to have a party. They are thinking about what they could do, bring etc. One student wants to bring Welsh cakes. He says ''I will make some Welsh cakes!'' Can you think of other things that the other students might say? ''I’ll bring music''''I’ll message Laura and Dan!'' 
…. A few hours later, the students are telling each other about their plans: ''I am going to make some Welsh cakes!''''Oh, and I am going to bring music!''''I’m going o message Laura and Dan''.
… So the students said will at the moment of decision and going to later on when the decision was already in the past.

Second, imagine you have a ''To Do'' list with two items on it (buy eggs, post letter). You say ''I’m going to buy some eggs''''I’m going to post a letter''. However, you then realise that you forgot some things, so you say ''I’ll buy bread as well'' and ''Oh, I’ll go and get my car washed''. You are too busy to look at your list as you’re leaving the house and ask your sister to read it to you to help you summarise it. She says: ''You’re going to buy eggs and bread, you’re going to post a letter, you’re going to get your car washed'' etc.).

Usually, will and going to are contrasted in this way: will/’ll for spontaneous decisions, plans, offers of help etc. (I’ll do it) and going to for reporting such decisions after they were made (I’ve decided that I’m going to do it)… In other words, people who have already made a decision about what to do (even if it’s only a second earlier) use going to to talk about their decision.

I hope this will help you with any future conversations!

Source: Jim Scrivener, Teaching English Grammar, 2010, Macmillan

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About Peartree Languages

Peartree Languages is a language school located in Cardiff.


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