Future Continuous vs. Going to

There are similarities and differences between future continuous and going to, which might cause confusion. To learn more, click here!

What is Their Main Difference?

The main difference between future continuous and 'going to' in both past and future is that future continuous refers to future only while 'going to' refers to both future and past events.

Uses and Comparison

1. Predictions

We use future continuous and 'going to' in its past and present form to talk about predictions and guesses. You need to pay attention to a slight distinction. Past with 'going to talks about events that we predicted to happen in the past. Future continuous predicts future events that we are uncertain of its occurrence. Future with 'going to' predicts future events that we are certain of its occurrence.

She will be visiting New York.

There is a sense of uncertainty in this example.

She is going to visit New York.

Here, we are certain about this future prediction.

She was going to visit New York.

Here, we do not know if the subject has fulfilled the task or not but we are certain an action was supposed to be done by the subject.

2. Plans and Arrangements

We can use 'past with going to' to talk about planned events that were supposed to be done in the past but were unfulfilled. Future with 'going to' talks about our future actions that we already have a set of plans for them. Future continuous tends to be a reminder of fixed future arrangements.

We will be studying at 12.

Here, the speaker is reminding listeners about an upcoming event.

We were going to study at 12.

Here, we are talking about a planned event that has failed to occur.

We are going to study at 12.

Here, we are talking about plans for an upcoming event.

3. Ongoing Actions

We also use future continuous to talk about unfinished actions. These actions started earlier and will be in progress in the near future.

I will be cooking dinner at 8.

Here, we are referring to an ongoing action in the future.

I am going to cook dinner at 8.

Here, we are talking about a future plan.

I was going to cook dinner at 8.

Here we are talking about a cancelled future event.

4. Near Future

When we want to refer to near-future events or events that just started to happen, we use future with 'going to'. When it comes to these types of events, we are certain they will occur.

They are going to stay for the weekend.

Here, we are referring to a near-future event.

They were going to stay for the weekend.

Here, we are referring to a cancelled future event.

They will be staying for the weekend.

Here, we are referring to a plan for future events.

5. Polite Enquiries

Future continuous is also used to ask about plans and future events. We use it in interrogative form. This way of acquiring information tends to be more polite than the rest.

Will you be joining us for the weekend?

Here, we are politely asking for information.

Are you going to join for the weekend?

Here, we are asking for information but it is not as polite as the first example.

Were you going to join for the weekend?

Again, here we are asking for information but it is not as polite as the first example.

Structure

Now that we tackled the uses of the two tenses and compared them, we can move on to their structure.

1. Future Continuous Tense

When creating this tense we simply add 'will' to the verb 'be' followed by the present participle of the main verb. Have a look:

Subject Will Be -ing Form
I will be wondering
She will be waiting

2. Going to

We have mentioned above that 'going to' can be used for both past and present. We will discuss their structures individually later on.

2.1. Past with 'Going to'

In this form, we follow a certain pattern. We add 'was' or 'were' to any subject followed by 'going to' and an infinitive verb: subject + was/were + going to + infinitive verb

I was going to order take out.

They were going to cook dinner.

2.2. Future with 'Going to'

In order to create 'going to' in the future form, we add 'going to' to the base form of the verb.

We are going to visit her.

You are going to do your homework.

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