‘Will’ and ‘Going To’ futures: For making predictions
We use to be + going to + infinitive when we make a prediction based on evidence we have now.
We use will + infinitive when we make a prediction which is only a guess or an opinion of ours.
Sometimes English grammar can be tough! Occasionally, you may think: ‘I just can’t make head or tail of it!’
Grammar can leave students pulling their hair out! Students often ask: ‘Why do you have so many grammatical tenses? In my language we do not have so many tenses!’
When you break the language down you will see that English is a very expressive language and each grammatical structure that you use communicates a very specific idea and time.
Each time you say something, the person that you are speaking to interprets your words and creates a very specific mental picture of what you are communicating. Using the correct grammar means that people will know exactly what you are on about every time you communicate!
Predictions About The Future
This blog post is dedicated to the future!! It is dedicated to the grammatical future, and to your future as an English language student. Perhaps one day you’ll visit our English school in Dublin! In the meantime, we hope the following will help. This blog will specifically cover the uses of:
will (+infinitive) and to be going to (+infinitive)
We hope that this blog helps you to understand the differences in meaning between these two structures and how we use them in English.
We use both will and to be going to when we want to make a prediction about the future. A prediction is a statement that we make about the future.
When a person makes a prediction they say what they think will happen in the future.
When do we use the structure 'to be going to + infinitive?'
We use the structure to be going to + infinitive if we make a prediction about the future because we have evidence now that supports us in making that prediction.
This means that something now (in the present) tells us what is going to happen in the future.
Predictions about the future are made every day. Here are some predictions that we see on a regular basis:
On television, the weather forecast predicts what the weather will be like tomorrow. Weather forecasters use different weather instruments that provide them with information in the present. Weather forecasters use this information to make their predictions about the weather.
If you asked a weather forecaster to make a prediction about the weather he/she might say: ‘It is going to be sunny tomorrow. Temperatures are going to be between 20 and 22 degrees Celsius. It is going to rain on the east coast in the evening. Tomorrow night is going to be cloudy’.
Economists make predictions regarding the economy in a country, levels of employment and unemployment and the creation of jobs. An economist is someone who has studied economics. Economists use evidence from history and data that has been collected to help them make their predictions. They use this evidence to help them make predictions about economic situations in the future.
If you asked an economist to make a prediction about the economy he/she might say: “Unemployment levels are going to fall next year. The economy of the country is going to grow by 2%. Tax rates are going to decrease slightly. Taxes are not going to increase.”
When do we use the structure 'will + infinitive?'
We also use the structure will + infinitive to make a prediction about the future. However, if we use this structure we are guessing or if we are stating our opinion. We do not have any evidence in the present telling us what the future is going to be.
Every day, newspapers print horoscopes telling people what will happen in their lives that day. Horoscopes make predictions about peoples jobs and careers. Horoscopes also make predictions about people’s relationships, their health and their finances. However, when you read a horoscope you are reading a prediction about yourself but this is not based on any evidence. This prediction is guessing what your future is going to be.
If you are very lucky your horoscope might say something like this: “Today you will get a phone call. The person who telephones you will offer you the job of your dreams. Later this afternoon you will win a lot of money on the lottery.”
Here, I have made some predictions about the future:
I predict that Ireland will win the UEFA European Championship in France in 2016 (I am not a football fan – this prediction is a guess!)
I predict that we will have a hot summer in Ireland in 2016. I am not a weather forecaster but I am a very optimistic Irish person!
I predict that Justin Bieber will decide to retire from music! (I am not a Justin Bieber fan!)
1. Choose ‘will’ or ‘is/are going to’ to complete these sentences.
2. Make predictions based on the evidence you are given in the sentences below:
Andrew is holding a suitcase at the airport. There are shorts and t shirts, sunglasses and a travel guide in his suitcase. What is he going to do?
I am putting on my hat, gloves and scarf. I have car keys in my bag. My friend is waiting for me in a restaurant in the city centre. Where am I going?
It is December. Mary is shopping. She is standing outside holding something large and green. She is looking for money to pay for her purchase. When she gets home she is going to cover her new purchase in lights and decorations. What is she going to buy?
Paul is sitting in a reception area reading a magazine. I am surrounded by sick people. He feels very unwell. Who is he going to see?
Maria is wearing a white dress. She is walking into a church. What is she going to do?
3. Complete the following sentences using the idioms and phrasal verbs from the blog
Tough: difficult/hard/not easy
Prediction: A statement that we make about the future
To predict: To make a statement about the future
Weather forecaster: A man/woman who uses weather instruments to predict weather conditions
Weather forecast: A prediction of weather conditions that gives us information about winds, temperatures etc.
Economist: A man/woman who is an expert in the subject of economics
Horoscope: a short prediction for people born under a particular sign, especially found in newspapers and magazines
Can’t make head or tail of something: unable to understand something/ unable to make sense of something Example: I really don’t like Ikea furniture. I can never make head or tail out of the instructions for putting the furniture together. I always do it wrong!!
Pull one’s hair out: To be nervous/anxious or frustrated with a situation Example: English idioms make me want to pull my hair out! They are so confusing!!
To be on about: to mean Example: Did you understand anything he was saying yesterday. I was listening but I have no idea what he was on about!!
To break down: To separate out into different parts / to analyze Example: I didn’t know how to solve the problem until I broke it down into small parts and solved one piece at a time.
Want more? There’s more about using ‘will’ and ‘going to’ to talk about the future in Part 2 of this post.