The Future: Will, Going to, or the Present Continuous? [ENG]

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Do you ever find yourself confused about which form of the future to use in English? Have a look at this quick, handy decision-making tree and don’t forget to read the notes below!

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Choosing which form of the future to use can be a pretty confusing process. In an effort to simplify things as much as possible, I’ve created a decision-making tree which should guide you through the basics and allow you to express yourself well and avoid any awkward sounding phrases. 

Speaking in the future in English is subtle; there are no perfect rules and even the ‘rules’ we do have can often be broken depending on the speaker’s intonation and register. Whether to use ‘will’ or ‘going to’, for example, is often more a question of style than substance.

This guide is designed to help you choose between the three most common future forms:

to be going to

will

the present continuous tense

There are, of course, other ways to speak about the future which are not covered in this post; ‘the present simple’ and ‘the future continuous’, to name just two. 

Now, just a few notes to help you navigate the graphic:

  • Where I have used ‘you’ in the decision-making tree, it refers to the person speaking.
  • Where there are two options (‘will’ or ‘going to’, for example), you could say either one without any great difference in meaning. 
  • A ‘pre-planned action’ refers to a decision made before the moment of speaking.  
  • ‘Evidence’ refers to specific information that gives you some degree of certainty in your prediction.

Thanks for checking out my post. Before you go, just a quick note:

I produce all these posts for free and in my own time. It’s a lot of work. All I ask of you in return is this:

If you found this article helpful, useful, annoying compelling or even, dare I say it, educational, please share it using social media; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and so on. Let the karma both go and come around. ¡Hasta luego!

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