Going to vs. Will

By tense:

Going to is used to refer to plans that the speaker has made. In other words, the speaker has already made a decision as to what he is going to do.

We use going to when we have evidence now of a future event.

Will is used for promises. It does not matter if the time between the promise and the action is very long or very short.

• We use will when we make a decision to do something at the moment of speaking. This can be considered a very short-term promise or an unplanned action, both of which require the use of will to express a future idea.

A: Someone is at the door.
B: I'll see who it is.

A: The telephone is ringing.
B: I'll answer it.

• We use will when we offer to do something for someone.

A: I have to clean my room before we leave.
B: Don't worry. I'll help you with it.

• We use will when we ask someone to do something.

By function:

• We often use will after verbs like be afraid, be sure, believe, doubt, expect, suppose, and think and with adverbs such as perhaps, possibly, and probably2 to indicate a certain doubt or uncertainty about the future.

1Michael Swan, Practical English Usage, p. 214
2Elaine Walker and Steve Elsworth, Grammar Practice for Upper Intermediate Students, p. 56

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This page was last modified on 06/15/10

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