Future simple tense (will and be going to)
The future simple tense has two forms in English – ‘will’ and ‘(be) going to’.
When you use the future simple tense to talk about the future , using ‘will’ or ‘(be) going to’ can alter the meaning of what you are saying.
Read the information below to see what the differences are and when to use which form of the future simple tense.
Future simple tense – differences between ‘will’ and ‘(be) going to’
will: will + (base form of the verb)
(be) going to: be (am, are is) + going to + (base form of the verb)
1. To talk about a future ‘fact’.
The population of New Zealand will be 6 million by 20**.
2. To talk about something we have just decided to do (had no plan – decision made at the time of speaking).
Person A: “I feel really ill.’ Person B: Do you? I‘ll drive you home.
3. To make a promise.
I will love you forever.
(Be) going to
1. When we have evidence that something will happen (we can see something or know something that gives us evidence).
You’ve eaten so many chocolates! You are going to be sick!
2. To talk about something we will do in the future and have already planned
I’m going to have a holiday next week.
Future simple tense – will – more examples
Use #1: To talk about a future ‘fact’
‘The sun will rise at 6.10 a.m. tomorrow.’
Using ‘will’ means that this is fact.
Remember that a ‘fact’ can be subjective.
‘My team will win the World Cup’ is a ‘fact’ for the speaker, but not necessarily for the listener.
A: “I have a headache!”
B: “Really? I will (I’ll) get you a tablet”
Speaker B has made a decision at the same time as speaking, so uses will.
Future simple tense – (be) going to – more examples
Use #1: When we have evidence (we can see something or know something) that something will happen in the future
Look at those clouds! It is going to rain!
We can say ‘going to’ because we have evidence – we can see the clouds.
Use #2: To talk about something we will do in the future and have already planned.
‘I’m going to have my hair cut tomorrow – I booked the appointment last week’
We say ‘going to’ because this must have been decided last week when the appointment was booked.
A: I’m going to see that new film at the cinema today with John. (speaker is talking about something they will do in the future and have already planned)
B: But John can’t go – he asked me to tell you that he’s not feeling well.
A: Oh, OK. I‘ll go to the library instead then. (speaker is talking about something they have just decided to do (they had no plan – the decision was made at the time of speaking).
Click here to try the future simple exercises.