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Expressing future events - Func. Grammar
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Latest version - with corrections 11-09-07 - Printer-friendly version worddoc (1 page)

Likelihood of occurrence



For sure!

It’s happening

Things are arranged by people

I’m meeting my friend (later, to go for a drink)
I’m flying to London (soon)

(BE) GOING TO future

VERY likely

It’s going to happen
(right away)

There’s evidence in the present it’s gonna happen!

Look at the time! We’re going to be late! She’s going to have a baby! Help! I’m going to fall!

Very likely

It’s going to happen
(near future)

Because somebody has that plan/intention and/or is about to start arranging things

What are you going to see? (when you go to the cinema later) I’m going to look for a job

Certain because of present evidence

It’s going to happen

Because I see how it is building up to happen!

Look at those clouds! It’s going to rain!
Look at that car. It’s going to crash!

WILL future


It’ll happen
It won’t happen

There’s no certainty that it’ll happen (opinions)

Bye. Hope we’ll meet some day! There’ll be lots of people.
You won’t like it

non-future relevance?
(present in Spanish)

It’ll happen
It won’t happen


I’ll have a coke
I’ll answer the phone
I’ll carry your bag!*

non-future relevance?
(pres./future in …)

I promise it’ll happen
Promise it won’t happen!


I won’t tell anybody
I’ll help you*

non-future relevance?
(present in Spanish)

I’ll/We’ll make it happen
Shall I/we make it happen?


Shall I open the window?
Shall I start? I’ll help you*
I’ll carry your bag*

Examples - Link to the TP Podcast episode (coming soon...)

I’m flying to London next week (Got my ticket!)
I’m going to travel to London next week (I haven’t got my ticket yet, but I’m planning the trip)

--Where are you going to have the party?
--At a friend’s house. Last year we decided we’d never have parties again but...
--Where are you having the party?
--At 65 Catchup Street - it’s Mary's house.

--I’m going to India, mum.
--What?! Who with?
--All alone! I need to learn about life!
--Oh my! What will you live on? Where will you sleep? Who will keep an eye on you?!

When are you moving to your new place? (I know you’re moving, I’m asking about the date)
When are you going to move to your new place? (I know you’ve got this plan/intention)
When will you move? (I know you need to move, but I don’t know if you’re on that yet)

Will you marry me? (A question out of the blue!)
Are you going to marry me? (we talked about it!)
Are you marrying me next Sunday or not?! (we’ve organized it all but now, after a row, I’m wondering!!!)

What are you doing this evening? (common tense for “do” in this use)
--I’ll study (I suppose!)
--I’m going to study (that’s my rock-solid intention!) (also in case below)
--I’m studying (with someone, know place and time, it’s arranged)
What are you going to do this evening? (I’m especially interested in your plans/intentions)
What will you do? (Dramatic! It could be because somebody’s got a problem and you can’t think of how that person can solve it (also: What can you do?). It could be because you see that everything is in the air… like if someone is going to quit their job, or go on a trip hitchhiking, or the sort)

--What are you having? (common tense for “have” in this use)
--I’ll have a coke (spontaneous decision)
--Sorry, I didn’t hear. What are you going to have, then? (I know you’ve decided)
--A coke for me/ I’d like a coke/ I’m going to have a coke (plan)
--The phone’s ringing!
--I’ll get it!
--What did you say?
--I’m going to answer the phone (intention)