Will, going to, present continuous: future plans

by | Last updated Jul 19, 2019 | Grammar | 0 comments

Will, going to, present continuous: future plans

by | Last updated Jul 19, 2019 | Grammar | 0 comments

Introduction


Talking about the future in English is difficult. We don't have a future tense, but use a variety of different structures to talk about the future in different ways. These structures include the future forms will, going to and present continuous.

This is challenging for students - you have to be careful to choose the correct form for a specific context.

Will, going to and present continuous can all be used to talk about future plans and future, but with a difference in meaning.

This exercise contains 5 micro-dictations in which people use will, going to, and present continuous to talk about future plans. See how much you can understand, and then read the explanation for why a specific future form is used.

Feel free to ask any questions if you are unsure about anything. Good luck!

Photo by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on Unsplash

Exercise 1: future plans


Listen to the following 5 dictations. See how much you can understand, then read the explanation for why the speaker uses will, going to or present continuous to talk about their future plans. 

Talking about the future in English is difficult. We don't have a future tense, but use a variety of different structures to talk about the future in different ways.

 

This is challenging for students, because you have to be careful to choose the correct form for a specific context.

 

This exercise contains 5 micro-dictations in which people are talking about future plans. See how much you can understand, and then read the explanation for why a specific future form is used.

 

Feel free to ask any questions if you are unsure about anything. Good luck!

 

Photo by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on Unsplash

Sentence 1 (accent: English, RP).

Imagine you're at work and it's about 12.30. One of your colleagues comes up to you and asks you the following question:

. ?

going cafe to sandwich. anything?

Language notes

Notice the way the 'do' and 'you' are connected here, to sound like /ʤə/.

Now listen to three possible answers to this question. Each answer uses a different future form, and communicates a different kind of future plan or arrangement.

Sentence 2 (accent: Scottish).

, .

, I'm have .

Language notes

We use 'going to + verb' to talk about a future plan or intention.

In this example, the speaker has already made a plan for lunch. Maybe he has brought his own lunch to work, or he has decided to spend another hour at his desk and then go to the cafe. He made this decision before the moment of speaking.

Sentence 3 (accent: English, RP)

, .

No , have .

Language notes

We use 'will + verb' to communicate a spontaneous decision about the future.

In this example, the speaker does not have a plan for her lunch. Maybe she hasn't thought about it yet, or maybe she is just indecisive. When she is asked the question, she answers with a decision she makes at the moment of speaking - a spontaneous decision.

Sentence 4 (accent: North America)

, .

No , I'm friend later.

Language notes

We use the present continuous to describe a future arrangement. This is similar to a future plan, but is something that is more fixed and definite - maybe we have agreed a time and place, made a reservation, booked tickets, bought a flight, or something like that.

In this example, the speaker doesn't want anything from the cafe because they have already made an arrangement for lunch. They are meeting a friend, and have probably agreed the time and place with them. They communicate the fact that this is an arrangement by using the present continuous.

Now listen to this final sentence - it contains all three future forms. Can you explain why she uses each one?

Sentence 5 (accent: English, Northern England)

. .

the kids if you like. I'm go out work tomorrow.

Language notes

I'll pick the kids up...

The speaker uses 'will' because she is making a spontaneous offer to collect the children. This is not something that she had already planned - she has formed the plan as she speaks.

I'm not going to go out...

The speaker uses 'going to' because she is not planning to go out - it is not her intention. She has previously formed this plan, so it is not a spontaneous decision.

I'm starting work at 6...

This speaker uses present continuous because she is describing a fixed or previously agreed future plan - a future arrangement. 

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Do you find the English future forms confusing? These 5 quick micro-dictations will help you understand when to use \'will\', \'going to\' and present continuous to express future plans (and boost your listening skills at the same time!).

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