Future Tenses

Be Going To, Will, Present Simple, Present Progressive

Comparative Use:

Be going to


Simple Present

Present Continuous or Progressive

-Future plan or intention.
I am going to start a diet.

-Voluntary action or intention
I will help you with your exam.

-Promises or threats
“I’ll get very angry if you don’t return my book.”

-Spontaneous decisions
It’s very warm. I’ll switch on the air conditioning.

-Action or event set by a time table or schedule.
“The movie starts at 6.30.”

-Action or plan already arranged for a future time
“I am having lunch with my sister on Friday.”

-Assumption or conclusion about the future, usually based on evidence
“It’s so cloudy and dark. It is going to rain.”

-Assumption or prediction about the future
We will have robots at home some day

-In clauses beginning with: when, while, before, after, by the time, as soon as, if, unless, etc.
“When you arrive tonight, we will go out for dinner.” (Not “when you will arrive...”)

It is not always clear the meaning that the speaker has in mind. Often, there is more than one way to interpret a sentence.

For example, when we make a general assumption or prediction about the future using be going to or will:
“Celeste is going to be our class President.”
“Celeste will be our class President.”

When we express a plan or a voluntary action:
“I’m going to make a cake.”
“I’ll make a cake.”

Also there may not be a clear difference between a plan or intention with be going to, and a plan with present progressive.
“They're going to study tomorrow.”
“They're studying tomorrow.”

So, in these cases, it doesn't matter which tense we use if the context does not limit us. However, it is usually clear if we are expressing a promise, or an arranged plan or a spontaneous decision.

Exercise: Use the best tense to complete the sentences below. The context will help you decide.

1.I ... (call) you when I get home.

A: The phone is ringing.
B: I ... (get) it.

3.Don't worry, I ... (be) on time for our appointment this time.

4.I ... (make) dinner if you do the dishes.

5.Mae promised she ... (throw) a party next Saturday evening.

6.You are falling asleep, I ... (make) you some coffee.

7.If you drive like that, you ... (have) an accident.

8.Jamie, if you don’t wash your hands first, I ... (not give) you this sandwich.

9.I heard John and Ellie ... (have) a baby.

10.If you vote for me, I ... (improve) the working conditions here.

11. They ... (spend) a vacation in Australia next summer.

12.Hurry home! The football match ... (start) at 7.

13.I ... (see) Cecil on Thursday at the corner coffee shop.

14.I ... (be) a scientist when I grow up.

15.This year ... (be) very interesting for our company.

16.I ... (start) my PhD next year.

17.We ... (take) the kids to the zoo on Friday.

A: Any plans for the weekend?
B: I ... (paint) my kitchen sometime on Saturday.
C: I ... (study) with some friends for a test on Monday.

19.The first plane ... (leave) at 5.45 AM. It’s going to be an early morning.

20.What can I give you for your birthday? Oh I know! I ... (get) you something really nice.

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