I will, I’m going to, I shall

Inicio / Top

Although some people believe in there is no future (even there is no past) –only the present is the only time we can trust—, languages have their own way to show when the present is, when the past was, and when the future will be.

In English, there are three future forms; it depends on the level of politeness of the speech, the intention of the speech and another things of the like. So we have:

  • Will + infinitive and going to + infinitive

A very small difference:

“Will you / Are you going to go to the library tomorrow?”

Will is preferred in formal written English; going to is better for spoken English, usually going to = gonna.

  • When we have some evidence for something in the future we use going to rather than will.

“I’m going to move next month”

  • If our prediction is not of the kind shown above, we use will instead of going to.

“Mary will be pleased if you come back soon.”

  • For intentions that were made before the current speech time, we prefer going to.

“She told me she’s going to buy a new car next week.”

  • In formal speech, and decisions made at the moment of the speech, we use will.

“The performance will commence in three minutes.”

“Somebody’s knocking. I’ll go to open the door.”

  • We use shall with the first person (singular/plural) in future statements, although it is more common to use will. Nevertheless, there is a common use of shall in proposals (suggestions).

“Shall we have a coffe?”

“Shall we go to the cinema?”

But not, “shall we marry next month?”


I’ll see you at the next post.