English grammar – Will & going to


will + verb
am/is/are + going to + verb

will not/won’t + verb
am/is/are not + going to + verb


Using “will”

  1. To give or ask for information about the future.
    • Her parents will be here in about an hour.
    • All her friends will come to her wedding.
  2. For plans or decisions made at the time of speaking.
    • “We need some paper for the photocopier.” “Okay, I’ll go and get some.”
    • “What would you like to eat?” “I’ll have a pizza please.”
  3. To make predictions about the future.
    • I think it will rain tomorrow.
    • Al Pacino will win the award for Best Actor.
    • Do you think Brazil will win the World Cup?
  4. To make predictions about the present.
    • Don’t phone her now, she’ll be busy.
  5. To offer to do something.
    • I’ll take you to the airport tomorrow.
    • That suitcase looks heavy, I’ll carry it for you.
  6. To agree to do something.
    • Okay, I’ll come with you.
  7. To promise to do something.
    • I promise I won’t tell anyone you broke the window.
  8. To make requests (or give orders).
    • Will you open the door for me please?
    • Will you marry me?
    • Will you shut up please?
  9. To refuse to do something or talk about refusals.
    • No, I won’t cook your dinner, you can cook it yourself.
    • I’ve asked him but he won’t do it.

Using “going to”

  1. For plans or decisions made before speaking.
    • Is John coming home soon? – Yes, I’m going to meet him at the airport tomorrow.
    • I’m going to watch TV in a minute, because my favourite programme is on.
  2. To make predictions about the future based on present evidence.
    • Look at the sky. It’s going to rain soon.
    • Germany have just scored. England are going to lose again.


See the phonemic chart for IPA symbols used below.

  1. In connected speech, will is usually contracted to ‘ll, pronounced /əl/ or /ʊ/ or even /ɔː/
    • I’ll /aɪjəl/ – this in turn is sometimes reduced to /ɑːl/
    • You’ll /juːəl/ – this is sometimes reduced to /jɔːl/
    • He’ll /hiːəl/
    • We’ll /wiːəl/
    • They’ll /ðəɪəl/ – this is sometimes reduced to /ðel/
  2. In connected speech, going to is reduced to its weak form, with several possibilities. “I’m going to leave” can be:
    • /gəʊɪŋtə/ – the vowel sound in “to” is reduced to a schwa
    • /gəʊɪntə/ – the vowel sound in “to” is reduced to a schwa and the last consonant sound of “going” is elided, so/ŋ/ becomes /n/
    • /gʌnə/ – this is the often quoted “gonna”

Related grammar points

Future continuous
Future perfect

1 teaching idea

  1. Lolly says:

    Teaching “will”… First, I show a picture of a fortune teller and ask students what people usually want to know about their future. Next, I elicit from students how a fortune teller predicts something in the future.

    “You will marry a very rich man. You will experience a great loss. You will be rich, etc…”

    Teaching “(be) going to”… First, I show a picture of a man who won the lottery. Then, I show a picture of a reporter interviewing him. The reporter wants to know how he will spend his money in the future. I ask students the questions that a reporter might ask, then elicit how the winner would answer the questions.

    “I am going to set up my own business.” “I am going to live in Hollywood”, etc…”

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