Are you confused about the difference between "will" and "going to" in English? If so, you’re not alone. Many learners find it difficult to understand the differences between these two words. In this reference, we’ll take a look at when to use "will vs going to" and how to remember the differences.
The difference between Will and Going To
Both phrases are used for future events, but there is a difference between them in terms of intention, planning, and certainty.
|Be going to
|Will is usually used for future events that haven't been planned before. It reflects spontaneous decisions.
|I forgot to drink my glass of water. I will take one after dinner.
|The construction “be going to” reflects the decisions that have been planned before.
|I am going to get a glass of water. I have to drink water every 3 hours.
|Used for predictions based on personal feelings without necessary evidence.
|I think it will rain tomorrow.
|Used for predictions based on real evidence or signs that point directly to a future event.
|Look at those clouds! It is going to rain.
|Sometimes used to express a strong certainty.
|I will be there for you.
|Conveys a sense of plan in progress or an event that should happen because of the circumstances.
|I am going to stay with you tonight.
In different regions you may find out that locals use these two phrases differently, ignoring some rules. It might be based on regional differences or even personal preferences. However, we recommend to follow the general rules. Firstly, you will clearly send the message and be correctly understood. Secondly, by following the rules, you form a habit and won't have any concerns in formal writing, where accuracy is crucial.
Rules for using Will and Going To
Explaining the difference between will vs going to, we have provided some of the situations when to use each phrase. However, there are some more recommendations to choose between will and going to.
When to use Will
Will has a strong association with the future. As it was said, you should use it for unexpected events, predictions based on personal feelings, and expressing a strong certainty. Additionally, will is used for:
- making promises (I will help you with your homework.);
- giving commands (You will do your homework by the end of the day.);
- in the first conditional (If you study hard, you will pass the exam.)
It seems challenging to remember all the cases, but with some practice, you will navigate the use of ‘will’ intuitively.
When to use Going To
'Going to' might be considered a more accurate phrase since it is mostly used to talk about future events based on real evidence. However, there are some differences as well:
- Expressing future intentions. For example, ‘I am going to start a new job next month.’ In this sentence a person planned to change a job, but there is no 100% chance that such event will happen.
- Showing imminence. For example, ‘The glass is going to fall.’ It demonstrates that the glass is going to fall if something continues to happen (e.g., a person will continue to move the glass to the edge of the table.). However, the circumstances might change.
- Warning or threatening. For example, ‘You are going to regret it if you don’t study for the exam.' Such a statement might be based on someone's personal background. However, there is no 100% chance that another person is going to regret it as well.
Although we name it ‘going to,' the correct structure is ‘be+going+to.' To form a sentence with this phase, you have to use the present form of the verb ‘to be’ and then add ‘going to.’ Otherwise, there will be a grammatical error.
Will vs Be Going To
As you can see, "will" and "going to" are often used interchangeably and have the same meaning. While there are some subtle differences, you can't go wrong with either one. In other words, regardless of which one you use, you will still be understood.
However, it's still important to understand the difference between them and use the correct one. When in doubt, use "will" for unexpected events and "going to" for planned events.
Will is typically for unexpected or not planned events in the future and predictions based on personal feelings, while ‘be going to’ is used for planned events and predictions basedon real evidence.. However, the two often tend to be interchangeable. Practice using both to sound more natural and intuitively use the right word for all situations!