Learn English Tenses: FUTURE – “will” or “going to”?


In this lesson, you will learn the difference between using "will" and "going to".

Both of these are used to talk about the future, but they have slightly different meanings.

Now, this lesson is part of the series on English verb tenses created by www.engvid.com

to help you improve your English fluency.

Now, I have created lessons, separate individual lessons on "will", which is the future simple,

and on "going to", and maybe you have watched these, and if you have, that's great.

This will be a wonderful review and a way for you to understand the differences more

clearly, and if you have not watched the individual lessons, that's also absolutely fine, you

have watch this lesson now and this will give you a wonderful overview and then you can

go and watch the individual lessons, alright?

So, let's get started.

So, when we're talking about the future, we're talking about any time after now, right?

Not the past, not the present, anytime after now.

And we can think about the future in many different ways in English and we have many

different tenses and expressions that we use to talk about the future, but let's focus

on these basic ways.

So, how do you know which one to use?

You can think about it in a few days.

First, think, is the situation formal or informal?

Because when you separate it like that, it will help you to understand which one to use.

So, if the situation is formal, it's a formal, official, business situation or academic situation,

or even a social situation, alright?

Formal and official means that you don't know the people at all, or you know the people

very well that you're speaking to, or you don't know them very well, the ones you're

speaking to, or the ones you're writing to, that would be more formal.

If that's the case, then you should always use "will", alright?

It's easy.

It doesn't matter about anything else, if it's more formal, use "will" which is, in

fact, our future simple, it's also called the future simple tense.

Now, if it's informal, you have a few choices.

So, let's understand what that is.

So, if it's an informal situation, more casual, more friendly, with people that you know,


Then you have to think a little bit further.

Is the situation that you're talking about something that you planned in advance, or

something that is not planned, that is unplanned?

What does that mean?

You know, for example, if I need to see the doctor, I usually can't just walk in, I need

to make an appointment, and something like that, right?

So, this is something that's planned.

Or, if I'm going to travel somewhere, I need to make the travel arrangements, make a reservation,

buy the ticket, these are things that are planned in advance, right?

And unplanned just means that you didn't plan it before, you just sort of decided at that

moment to do something.

Let's look at an example.

So, if it's planned, first of all, you're going to use "going to", and if it's unplanned,

you will use "will", or you'll use a contraction with "will".

So, our example is this: let's say you're at work and you see your colleague getting

up and he's going somewhere and you say "Hey, John, where are you going?" and he says "I'm

going to get some coffee."

Now, John has a plan.

He got up for a reason.


To go and get some coffee.

So, it was planned.

So, he says "I'm going to get", right?

Going to, this is our planned option, right?

And then you say "Oh, you know what?

I'll get some too.".

So, you say "Okay, I'll get some too."

Was your decision planned in advance?

No, you just, you asked him, he was going to get coffee and you say "Oh, okay, I'll

get some too."

So, this is an example of the unplanned one, alright?

Now, to understand a little more clearly the formal one, okay, let's look at this example:

it's an announcement, for example, at a conference.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we will begin the conference at 9:00."

"We will".

We will begin, right?

It's very official and they're talking to maybe hundreds of people or thousands of people,

it's a little more formal.

So, that's the formal one, but here, we used either "going to" or we used "will" for planned

or unplanned events.

Now, let's take a quick look at the structure of "will" and "going to".

So, basically here, we're taking the subject, I, you, we, they, etc., we're taking the word

"will" and then the base form of the verb.

That's it.

For example: I will work, You will work, We will work, They will work, He will work, She

will work, and It will work.


That's when it's formal and you're using the full form, but most of the time, if it's informal,

then we don't say all of that.

We use a contraction.

We say "I'll" instead of "I will".

I'll work.

You'll work.

We'll work.

They'll work.

He'll work.

She'll work, and It'll work, alright?

Now, if we want to make it negative, like any negative, we usually add the word "not".

I will not work tomorrow.

Or, if you want to shorten it, what would it become?


Not "will not", "I will not" is the full form, okay?

I will not, you will not work, etc., but when you shorten it, you use this key word: won't.

So, "will not" becomes "won't".

For example, "He won't work", alright?

She won't work.

Make sure you're pronouncing it correctly also.

And a question in this, in this future simple tense, right, with "will", we would say "Will

he work?"

Will they work?

Will she work?


We're changing the order.

And, of course, this is just a quick overview.

In the lesson that I have, which is all about future simple, it's a full class on that,

and you'll learn exactly in the positive sentence, in the negative sentence, in the question,

and all of the forms, you'll also have more time to practice pronouncing each of these,


But this is the quick overview.

Now, if we're using "going to", then what do we do?

We have the subject, I, you, we, they, we have the verb "to be", I am, you are, then

we have "going to", just as an expression, just put in there, you don't have to change

it, and then last, we have the verb in its base form, okay?

So, in real - in reality, it will sound like this: I'm going to.

Now here, because "going to" is the informal version, you don't really need to say "I am

going to work tomorrow", you can just say "I'm going to work", which is the contraction,

which is what we use in informal conversation.

Just like here, we use "I'll", here, we use "I'm", alright?

So, these would sound like this: I'm going to work.

You're going to work.

We're going to work tomorrow.

They're going to work.

He's going to work, she's going to work, and It's going to work.


That's the basic structure.

Now, if you want to make it negative, again, we're going to add the word "not", but you

put it - you could do in two ways, okay?

With "I'm", it's just "I'm not going to work", that's it, there's nothing else you can do.

With these others, you can contract them in different ways.

So, one way is to say the "not", right?

You could say "You're not going to work", or you could say "You aren't going to work",


So, the easy way is to just put the "not" there, okay, if you're not sure of how this

works, just say: You're not going to work, He's not going to work, They're not going

to work, alright?

"Not" will always create that negative for you.

But, be aware that people will be using another form as well, and you can, once you're comfortable

with it, and it's like that.

You aren't.

We aren't.

They aren't.

Or, if it's for these three, you could say "He's not going to work", that original form,

or you could say "He isn't going to work", okay?

So, those are some options that you have when you're speaking.

And then question would be, again, you're reversing the order, so you say, "Is he going

to work tomorrow?", okay?

So, this is the basic structure that you have to keep in mind.

If you know it well, that's great.

If you need review, then as I said, watch the individual lessons afterwards so you really

understand exactly how to use it, how to write it, how to say it, without making any mistakes.

Now, let's look at when to use "going to" and "will" in a little more detail.

You already know that if it's a formal situation, then of course, we use which one?

We use "will".

But if it's informal, let's look at some of the points to keep in mind.

The most important point you've already learned: is it something planned or something unplanned,


That's the key, but let's look in a little more detail.

So, on this side is "going to", and on his side is everything with "will".

So, just look at the main points.

With "going to", we talk about planned things.

With "will" - unplanned.

With "going to", something is certain.

With "will", it's uncertain.

With "going to", something is already decided.

With "will", you just decided at that moment.

With "going to", again, it's certain, but with "will", it's possible, okay?

So, let's understand these first in a little more detail.

So, an example of planned is "I'm going to call Jim at 3:00."

It's in my - it's on the agenda, it's in my diary, I have to call him at 3:00, it's a

planned activity, okay?

But, an example of the unplanned one, let's say somebody tells you "Oh, while you were

out, Jim called you.", so you say "Okay, I'll call him in a few minutes."

You just decided that.

You didn't have it as part of your plan for the day.

It just happened, it was an unplanned thing, okay?

Next, an example of something certain: "We're going to visit Spain next month."

If you're going to travel, you need to make reservations, buy your tickets, pay the money,

all that, right?

So, this is certain.

We're going to visit Spain next month.

We've made the necessary arrangements.

An example of uncertain: "We'll probably visit Spain next month.", but we're not sure yet,


So, you see here, it's "we'll probably", right?

And here, "I'll call him".

Here: "I'm going to" do this.

"We're going to visit Spain", okay?

You see that "going to" and "will" appearing in each case.

Next, if something is already decided, which is really another way of saying what?

It's planned, right?

They're just different ways, and in many of the textbooks, you will see sometimes long

lists which explain which one to use when.

I don't think you need to think about it in that much detail, if it helps you, great,

but I've tried to bring it down to the few basic points that you need to understand to

make this choice, and really, it's up here in the planned and unplanned, this is just

a little more detail to help you really get it, okay?

So, if something is already decided, you could say "I'm going to have lunch at noon."

It's in the diary, you've scheduled it, because after that you have a meeting, okay, so you

have already decided.

But here, just decided, in the sense that, at this moment, so you say "You know what,

I'm kind of hungry.

I think I'll have lunch now."

So, you just decided at that moment.

It wasn't part of something you had already decided.

Next, when something is certain, for example: "He's going to get the test results today.",

because today is the 15th and they said that all of the Math exam results are expected


So, he's going to get the test results today, alright?

That's something certain.

Or, on this side with "will", it's possible.

"I believe he'll pass the test."

I don't know, he's supposed to get the results, he's a pretty good student, I believe he'll

pass the test, but it's possible, okay, we don't know for sure.

Here, we know for sure.


So, these are some of the points to keep in mind when you have to choose this one or that


But, there is one situation in particular where you can use either one, alright?

And that's when you're predicting something.

You're making a prediction.

You're saying what you think will happen or what someone says will happen.

For example: "The weather channel says it's going to snow tomorrow."


"It's going to snow", you could say that, or you could just as well say "The weather

channel says it'll snow tomorrow."

"It'll snow" - It will snow tomorrow, okay?

So, for predictions, you could actually use either one, and another thing to keep in mind,

it's wonderful that you're learning these differences because they can make a big difference,

alright, to exactly communicating the message that you want to communicate about whether

something is planned or not, but don't panic over it, okay?

Take it easy, because whether you say "going to" or whether you say "will", both of them

refer to the future.

So, definitely nobody's going to think that you're talking about the past, so they will

understand that you're talking about the future, but of course, if you want to communicate

more fluently and at a more advanced level, for an exam or when you're writing a report

or making a presentation, then you want to be more precise, and that's why we're going

into this in a little more detail.

Now, let's look at a special situation where you could actually use both "going to" and

"will" in the same sentence.

Let's see how it works.

So, let's suppose that your friend asks you "What are you doing tonight?" and there are

some things that you're going to do tonight when you're sure of.

You have plan, you're certain, you've decided, and there are some other thing which you're

unsure about.

You haven't decided yet, you aren't certain, you don't have the plan yet.

It's possible.

These are certain, right?

So, you could say something like this: "I'm going to study for my exam", you know that,

you have a plan, "and then maybe", uncertain, "and then maybe I'll watch a show.", okay?

Let's read that again: I'm going to study for my exam and then maybe I'll watch a show.

So, this person has something which is sure - studying for the exam, and something which

is unsure - and that uncertain part is indicated in two ways, with the word "maybe", right?

We don't know for sure, and with "I'll", okay?

But we see here: I'll watch, and we see here: going to study.

I'm going to study.


So, it's possible that in one sentence that you have both because you have something that's

planned and something unplanned.

It's still comes down to that basic planned/unplanned difference, okay?

Let's look at one more example.

So, let's say you're planning a trip and your friend asks you "So, what are you doing tonight?"

and you have some plans and some things you're not sure about.

So, you say "I'm going to pack my suitcases" - this is a plan - "and then maybe I'll meet

some friends for dinner.", okay?

So again, we have here "I'll meet", "maybe I'll meet", so we have this combination of

sure and unsure.

Let's read it one last time: I'm going to pack my suitcases and then maybe I'll meet

some friends for dinner.


So, again, you could see this combination and maybe right now you can ask yourself or

if I ask you "What are you doing tonight?"

Tell me something you know for sure, and tell me something you're not sure about, okay?

And one last point: Did you notice that, in this question, I said "What are you doing

tonight?", so that is the other way that we have using the present continuous for the

future, alright, which is, again, something that I've covered in the individual lesson

on "going to" and present continuous.

Now, let's practice what you've learned.

So, remember you're either going to use "going to" or "will".

So, the first one is something certain: I __________ work on Friday.

What would you say?

I'm going to work on Friday, because it's certain.

The second one is uncertain: Maybe I ________ work on Friday.

What should it be?

Maybe I'll work on Friday.




Number two - number three.

Here, something is decided already, so: He ________ study medicine.

What should it be?

He's going to study medicine.

And number four, it's not decided yet.

It's undecided: He __________ study law or medicine.

What will that be?

He'll - as in, he will, He will study law or medicine, because it's still undecided.


Alright, number five, something unplanned: They _________ probably get married.

It's unplanned, not planned yet, so what would we say?


They'll probably get married.

But now, in number six, it's planned, so what do we say now?

They _________ get married.

What would it be?

They're going to get married.


Very nice.

Number seven, this is formal: The Prime Minister ________ arrive at 8:00pm.

Which one will it be?

The Prime Minister will arrive at 8:00pm, because this is formal.

Number eight is informal.

So, what would we say here?

My friend _________ come over at 8:00pm.

My friend is - or you could say: My friend's going to come over at 8:00pm, okay?

So, it would be like this, it's one friend, so that would be "friend's".

Now, number nine and number ten are both predictions, so what happens there?

Do you remember?

So, with predictions, we could say either one.

So, number nine: She __________ win the election.

So, we could say: She's going to win the election, or here also: She _________ the election.

We could say: She'll win the election, as in, she will win the election.

So, whether it's - if it's a prediction, you can use either "going to" or "will".


So, I hope this review helped you to reinforce what you've been learning and where can you

go from here?

If you'd like to do a little more review on each of these, on the "going to", on the "will",

then you can go and watch the individual lessons, okay, the individual classes because this

is all part of a series of English tenses, alright?

So, watch the individual class on each of these if you feel you want to know it clearly

and more in detail, and if you feel comfortable with that, then you can go on whenever you're

ready to the next tense in this series, which is which one?

The future continuous tense, because here we started with future simple, now we're moving

to future continuous.

And, if you'd like to do a little more practice on this, you can go to www.engvid.com to do

a quiz.

So, thanks for watching and all the best with your English.