Future with 'Going to'

Anything after now is the future, and in English, we have many ways and tenses to talk about the future. Some are more basic and some are more advanced.

Future with 'Going to' in English Grammar

What Is 'Future with Going to'?

A common way to talk about the future in English is by using 'be going to'. Some argue that 'going to' is not tense. It is just a phrase, an expression, that we use to talk about plans and predictions in the future.

Future with 'going to': Structure

To construct the future tense with 'going to' use 'be' + 'going to' + the base form of the verb. Let us take a look at examples:

She is going to visit her parents next weekend.

Remember, 'visit' is the base form (infinitive without 'to').

I'm going to take my son to the zoo.

Future with 'going to': Negation

To make a negative sentence use the 'subject pronoun + the verb 'be' + 'not going to' + the base form of the verb.
Here are the examples:

It's going to rain. → It's not going to rain.

They are going to the party. → They aren't going to the party.

Future with 'going to': Questions

To make yes/no questions, you need to put the verb 'to be' at the beginning, followed by the subject, 'going to' and the rest of the sentence. Take a look at this example:

He's going to buy a new car. → Is he going to buy a new car?

To make wh- questions, you need wh- question words at the beginning of the question, right before the verb "to be," the subject, "going to," and the rest of the sentence. Take a look at the following example:

He's going to eat dinner at a restaurant. → Where is he going to eat dinner?

Using Future with 'Going to' to Talk about Plans

Future with 'going to': Uses

'Be going to' is commonly used in informal situations to talk about plans. It has different uses:

  1. Plans and Arrangements
  2. Predictions

Plans and Arrangements

If we know that we are going to do something tomorrow, this weekend, next month, next year, etc. in advance, we use 'be going to'.

We use 'be going to' to talk about our future plans. Often, we have already made up our minds about those plans and we are quite certain that they will happen.
Here are the examples:

I'm going to find a new job next month.

Here, you are quite certain that you will find a job next month.

We need potatoes to make dinner. I'm going to buy some.

Here you have already made up your mind to buy potatoes.

Sometimes the decision is not made by you, yourself. Sometimes by using be going to we refer to other's intentions. For example, those that are in charge, or an authority's intention. Check out the examples for more clarification:

The government is going to talk about global warming.

Our boss is going to fire him tomorrow.

Predictions

'Be going to' is commonly used to predict something in the future that we know will happen for sure. In these examples, the structure is clearly used to make future predictions:

The sky is getting darker. It's going to snow.

Here the speaker is predicting that it will snow based on the observation that the sky is getting darker.

It's 3-0. They are going to lose!

It is obvious that they will lose the game based on the current score of 3-0.

We can also use the expression 'be going to' to talk about events that are about to happen in the near future or have just started happening. For example:

Look at the papers, she is definitely going to take exams.

The sky is getting dark. We are not going to stay in the woods.

Tip!

In some informal situations, we can use 'be going to' to give instructions or emphasize that something needs to be done. Check out this example:

You're going to do your homework right now. You have an exam tomorrow!

here in this example the person is instructing or emphasizing to someone that they should do their homework immediately.

Past with 'Be Going to'

We can use 'be going to' to talk about past plans, for example:

I was going to ask her out but I decided not to.

He was going to fix the car for ages.

Informal Form of Going to: Gonna

In spoken English and in informal situations, native speakers use 'gonna' instead of going to. Remember that it is not correct to use it in written form and in formal situations. Here is an example:

This is gonna be a good day!

Remember 'gonna' is the contracted form of 'going to,' so you must use 'infinitive without to' after that.

Review

Besides using the auxiliary 'will' you can use 'to be going to' to talk about future plans and predictions. Whenever we use 'to be going to' for plans they are fixed and we are sure that they are going to happen.

Structure, Contraction, Affirmative, Negative, informal, and Question Forms

Structure subject + am/is/are + going to + base form of verb
affirmative He is going to start a choir class.
negative He is not going to start a choir class.
contraction He's not going to start a choir class./ He isn't going to start a choir class.
informal He is gonna start a choir class.
yes/no question Is he going to start a choir class?
-wh question What is he going to do ?

When to Use 'to Be Going to'?

  1. To talk about planned situations
  2. To talk about predicting the future
  3. To give orders

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