When talking about the future in English, the future forms of “will” and “going to” should be expected to be used in most conversational English. These two forms, while used frequently, can also be confusing, with many nonnative English speakers having difficulty distinguishing between when to use either of the two future forms. By learning the main differences between the two future forms, you can better gain an understanding on when to use either word in your “future” conversations.
The main distinguishing factor between the two forms, is that “going to” is used for plans and intentions made before the moment of speaking, while “will” is saved for talking about the future at the moment of speaking.
I think I’m going to get lunch with Sally later on this afternoon.
I will be meeting Sally at 2 p.m. for lunch.
In these examples, both sentences talk about future plans to get lunch that afternoon, however the “going to” is used to make a future prediction based on evidence in the present situation, whereas, “will” is used to talk about future facts or things we believe to be true about the future.
To better understand when to use “going to” or “will” take a look at the following examples:
Going To: Used to make future predictions based on evidence in the present situation
There’s so much traffic today. We’re not going to make it to the movie theater for hours!
You’re going to crash the car if you continue texting and driving!
It’s a beautiful day today, it’s going to be great weather for laying out.
Will: Used to talk about future facts or things we believe to be true about the future
The President will serve in office for four years.
I don’t think Bob will be happy about the mess we made.
The train will arrive at 2:15 pm according to schedule.
In reading the above examples, you may find that a few of the examples can be used interchangeably with no difference in meaning. This is because even when the terms are misused in conversational English, native speakers will still be able to understand what you mean without any problems. “Going to” and “will” are that similar, which makes for a very confusing concept, however, although they can improperly be used interchangeably, by learning the correct times to use either of these terms, you can feel more confident in your American English and know that you are speaking properly in English.
To further practice using “going to” and “will” in everyday examples, visit PronunciationPro.com for mp3 files and worksheets to better improve your future forms while speaking accent free English.