Future - Will vs. Going to

English Grammar Rules


A very confusing concept is when to use WILL and when to use BE GOING TO when we refer the future.

Both refer to the future and there is a slight difference between the two though in most cases they can be used interchangeably with no difference in meaning. Even if you misuse them, a native speaker is going to understand you without any problems.

Quick Summary Chart

The difference between WILL and GOING TO in English

When to use GOING TO

The structure BE GOING TO is normally used to indicate the future but with some type of connection to the present. We use it in the following situations:

1. When we have already decided or we INTEND to do something in the future. (Prior Plan)

The decision has been made before the moment of speaking.

2. When there are definite signs that something is going to happen. (Evidence)

Something is likely to happen based on the evidence or experience you have.

3. When something is about to happen:


When to use WILL

In other cases, where there is no implicit or explicit connection to the present, use WILL:

1. For things that we decide to do now. (Rapid Decisions)

This is when you make a decision at that moment, in a spontaneous way.

2. When we think or believe something about the future. (Prediction)

Note: You can use both Will and Going to for making future predictions.

3. To make an offer, a promise or a threat.

4. You use WON'T when someone refuses to do something.

Future Predictions

As you can see, both Will and Going to can be used for making future predictions without having a real difference in meaning.

Compare Will vs. Going To

If someone asks: "Are you busy this evening?"

If I respond: "Yes, I'm going to the movies." I use going to because it is a plan I made earlier (before I was asked the question). - In this case we cannot use Will.

If I haven't made plans, then you can say either: "I will probably watch TV." OR "I'm probably going to watch TV."

Both will and going to are possible in this situation because we are predicting what will happen (since we haven't made any plans).


Next activity

For more framework on the use of WILL and GOING TO refer to the student notes for each of these at:
Will and Going to


If you found this grammar guide about WILL and GOING TO in English useful, let others know about it:


Grammar Notes

A variety of English grammar notes and rules including charts and examples for beginner to advanced level students.

Learn Grammar

Grammar Games

Improve your English with our interactive English grammar games. There are many different topics and levels.

Play our Games

Connect with us

Woodward English on Facebook Woodward English on Twitter Woodward English on YouTube Woodward English on Instagram Woodward English on Periscope Woodward English on Pinterest Woodward English on Google Plus