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English grammar explanations and exercises (going to).

Understanding "going to" and comparing with present continuous for future.

The basics - structure of going to:

We can use "going to" as an auxiliary to express future. It's form requires the auxiliary verb "to be":

Subject + to be + going to + infinitive.

I am going to study more English.
John and Mary are going to get married.


Question forms:

As almost always, there is inversion between the subject and the auxiliary "to be" in question forms:

Are you going to watch the match?
Is Dave going to look for a new job?


Negative forms:

We use the word "not":

I'm not going to go on holiday.
We aren't going to drive to Madrid.      top arrow


Going to - use in real life:


We use "going to" to talk about our intentions or plans for the future. In other words, decisions already taken:

I'm going to get my hair cut tomorrow.
John and Mary are going to buy a house in the country next year.
We're going to start eating more healthily next month.

This way of talking about the future, in many cases, can be substituted for present continuous for future as this describes the future in a similar way. This means that both the following sentences have a similar meaning:

I'm seeing Roc�o this evening.
I'm going to see Roc�o this evening.

However, we have to separate present continuous for future and "going to" if the future intention is not clearly expressed. This may happen if the future time adverb is absent:

They're watching a film. (Happening now or a reference to the future?)
They're going to watch a film. (A clear reference to the future.)

If we want to place a lot of emphasis on our intentions, for example, to express that we are determined to do something, we prefer the "going to" structure:

I'm going to pass this exam if it's the last thing I do.

and not... "I'm passing this exam..."      top arrow


Predictions for future.

"Going to" (and not present continuous for future) is used to talk about what we think is going to happen in the future.

Normally, this prediction is based on what we are experiencing in the present, for example, evidence we can see:

Look at that plane! It's going to crash!
Look at those clouds. It's going to rain.
Look at Mary. She's going to have a baby.

It is also possible to use "going to" for predictions in the same way we use "will" for predictions (eg. not based on evidence we can see now):

In the future, there are going to be cars that can fly.
I think it's going to rain next week.

Also see "will" for predictions...

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Threats and promises.

We also make a reference to decisions already taken when we make a promise or a threat. "Going to" (and not present continuous for future) is used in these cases:

I promise I'm not going to do it ever again.
If you do that, I'm going to get angry.
He's going to pay for what he did.

Also see "will" for threats...

- Exercises - going to for future...
- Exercises - present continuous for future...

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