EN: will / going to

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by benj89, Jun 16, 2007.

  1. benj89 Member

    I know that there is a difference between that two constructions but it's misunderstood for me.

    Will is used when we are sure that the action will take place
    be going to is used when we plan to do something...

    If i'm wrong tell me.

    Do you have any examples for me? Thanks a lot

    Note des modérateurs : nous avons fusionné plusieurs discussions pour créer ce fil.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 9, 2010
  2. Marvin42

    Marvin42 New Member

    Pesaro _ Italy
    Italy - Italian
    not necessarily Going to form implies a plan... for example in It's going to rain or she's going to have a baby...
    The topic is quite complex, but Going to is both an intentional future and a "unavoidable" future, something that will surely happen
  3. david314

    david314 Senior Member

    Clayton, Missouri
    American English
    I would say:

    Will / le futur : Je mangerai / I will eat

    going to / aller + l'infinitf : Je vais manger / I am going to eat. (It's the same in both languages, yipee! :) )

    To me, they mean the same thing. Let's see what the others can add. Good luck!
  4. elfe Member

    France Français
    going to is preferred in spoken english and will in formal written english.

    going to is used when we predict that something will happen because we have some evidence; or to talk about intentions or decisions

    Will is to make a prediction based on our opinion or our past experience;
    or in a formal style to talk about futur events that have been previously arranged; or when we state a decision made at the moment of speaking; or again to describe a future event that follow another.


    i'm not feeling well. I think I'm going to be sick.
    john is going to visit Paris next month. He showed me his plane tickets.

    I'm sure you will have a good time with Bob.
    " the 5.30 to London will leave from platform 4" ( announcement at a railway station)
    "I think I will walk home" " that's a good idea!"
    If you're ready , I will explain how it works

    j'espère que ça t'aidera

    bonne soirée
  5. litchie New Member

    france français
    I would like to know when using "will" and "to be going to" (future)
    (by the way you can also correct my english if it's not too much asking)
    thanks a lot
  6. eeyore25 New Member

    England, English

    Often it doesn't matter which one you use. 'Will' is slightly more certain I think but it doesn't really matter. What's the sentence you want to say and I might be able to help better.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2013
  7. litchie New Member

    france français
    thanks a lot
    in fact I saw in a grammar book that you should use will when you want to speak about something that you didn't decide in advance and be going to when you decided in advance
    Is that right in usual langage?
  8. Grumumble Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    According to my old English classes,
    Will do = an event planned for the future
    going to do = a future event based on evidence

    1. I will wash the windows tomorrow. I have decided to make time for that.
    vs. Why is that bucket lying outside? -Oh, well, I'm going to wash the windows tomorrow, so I'll need it for that.

    2. That volcano is smoking, I'm sure it's going to explode

    But honestly, the difference is very subtle, so don't worry about it too much!
  9. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Eh bien, c'est à peu près exactement comme le choix en français entre le futur (je donnerai) et le future proche (je vais donner). ;) :p
  10. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    Non, justement pas,
    Visiblement, la règle évoquée dans le message numéro 3 de cette enfilade évoque des différences entre l'anglais et le français.
    Je me souviens qu'on m'a expliqué une règle identique quand j'étais à l'école.
  11. pyan

    pyan Senior Member

    Vendée, France
    English, UK, London
    There is information about "will" and "going to" here,

    It expands on the point made by Grumumble. It provides a useful framework. You cannot make a mistake if you use the framework.

    The disadvantage is that the framework simplifies a little. There are more times where the two terms are interchangeable then the framework suggests.

    It provides lots of examples. I hope it helps.
  12. timboleicester

    timboleicester Senior Member

    English - UK
    My "ye olde Grammar booke" insists on

    I and We shall........

    and the others he she they you "Will"

    I am not sure how helpful that is. This is often ignored however.
  13. pyan

    pyan Senior Member

    Vendée, France
    English, UK, London
    First person, singular and plural "shall", all others "will" is how I was taught, so it is taking some time to change to using only "will".

    Nowadays we don't usually teach people to use "shall" to express the future, but at higher levels to recognise this use in older literature.

    When speaking we say "I'll" and "we'll" for both "will" and "shall" so it does not matter.
  14. missjojo Senior Member

    Hi, I'd like someone to explain to me the difference between these 2 sentences :
    How are we going to travel to London ?
    How will we travel to London?

    Look forward to a reply.
  15. Ry1991 Senior Member

    English - Canada
    Well... one could say that "How are we going to" implies that this trip will take place sooner than if you were to say "how will we".

    But grammatical ideology and philosophy aside, they're exactly the same. Personally, I would never make sure to use one or the other in order to get that message across.

    Hope that helps.
  16. quinoa Senior Member

    Avec "be going to", il y a eu déjà une préparation à ce voyage. Le projet a été débattu, envisagé une première fois. On effectue donc une reprise d'une décision prise.
    Avec "will", modal de la visée vers le futur, on établit une prédiction, pour la première fois.
    Mais il est vrai que la nuance entre les deux n'est pas toujours nécessaire ou pertinente.
  17. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Je crois qu'on peut dire que la différence entre ces deux phrases en anglais est comme celle qui existe en français entre "Comment est-ce que nous nous rendrons à Londres ?" et "Comment est-ce que nous allons nous rendre à Londres ?"

    La distinction entre le futur simple et le futur proche est à peu près la même en français et en anglais. :p
  18. barbarino25 Senior Member


    I've always been told (and that's also what we find in grammar books - such as SWAN, which is, I think reliable), that when we make a decision at the time of speaking we should use "will" and that when it's been decided before we should use "be going to". Now...is it the same in "real life"? I had a discussion with some teachers today and we didn't seem to agree. So here are two sentences. I would like to know whether in each case "will" would be possible instead of "be going to" and vice versa.

    1.- Did you remember to post the letter?
    (opening her bag) - Oh dear! I forgot! I'm very sorry. I'll post it in the afternoon.

    2. Look! That kid is going to fall off his bike!

    Thanks a lot for your help...
  19. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    1. Not really; the sentence is most natural as written.
    2. Yes, it's possible to switch to "will," but if you do, you reduce the imminence of your prediction.

    In fact usage patterns for "I will do it" vs. "I am going to do it" are very, very similar to those of je le ferai vs. je vais le faire. This topic has been discussed before, and so I've transferred your question into an existing thread on the topic. You may find it helpful to read back through the previous posts.

    member and moderator
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010
  20. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    This is amazing. I've been speaking English for 60 years and French for 50 years and the question never crossed my mind because (whatever the rule is) it's identical in both languages. No translating problem therefore no problem. Go with the flow.
  21. barbarino25 Senior Member

    I don't agree with the fact that it's the same in both languages...If the doorbell rings, what would you naturally say? "I'll open the door", or am I wrong? Then if on your way to the door someone asks you where you are going you could answer: I'm going to open the door.

    In French in both cases you would say: je vais ouvrir la porte.

    I just want to say that it's not 100 percent identical...

    Being a native English speaker, what would you "naturally" say regarding the two examples that I gave:

    1. - Did you remember to post my letter
    - (opening her bag) Oh no! I forgot! I'll do ii in the afternoon. (desicion made at the time of speaking)

    2. Look! He's going to fall off his bag (prediction made on outside evidence)

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 10, 2010
  22. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Ok, I admit that there is some non-equivalence when the action of physically "going" (moving in space) comes into play. "I am going to open the door" is either a statement in the present perfect continuous that you can make as you physically "go" towards the door.... or it is a plan, such as when you are describing how you will welcome someone arriving for a surprise birthday party. "I will open the door" is either a statement of insistence (I -- not you -- will be the one to open the door) or the answer to an (implied) question about who will get the door... what the wife says when her husband has his hands full with the kids, for example. If the door bell rings and you need to excuse yourself from the guests who have already arrived so that you can go answer, I think you'd say instead "I'll (just) go answer the door." Again, this is because of the overlap between "am going" used to indicate physical motion vs. "am going" used as a near future auxiliary. But I really feel that the vast majority of the time, the futur/futur proche distinction is essentially the same in both languages.

    As for questions about your two example sentences, I already gave you my answer in post #19 above. ;) Neither of them involve possible confusion with physically going from point A to point B, and both are most natural in the form you have chosen. A switch to the simple future is possible in #2, but not in #1.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2010
  23. barbarino25 Senior Member

    Thanks again...May I just add a comment? "I am going to" is NOT called the present perfect continuous. The present perfect continuous is "have been + ing" :)

    Thanks again for your explanation!
  24. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    I'll go and open the door. I wouldn't say "I'll open the door", unless calling to the person outside (= j'ouvre la porte).
  25. Francobritannocolombien Senior Member

    French - "transatlantic"
    How about this situation: an elderly lady drops her purse and starts to bend down with difficulty. You offer to pick it up so she doesn't have to.

    English: Don't bother, I'll do it!
    French: Laissez, je vais le faire!

    This is a situation that implies a spur-of-the-moment decision, and with no possible confusion between "aller" as a future "proche" and "aller" as a motion from A to B. Clearly, in this case, English and French usage seem to diverge. There's no way you would say "je le ferai" in the French example.

    Before someone objects: I do realize that in the English example, the key word is I (as opposed to "you"), so it would seem that the rest of the sentence, including the tense of the verb, doesn't really matter. However, I notice that people invariably would say "I"ll do it" and not "I'm going to do it" in this kind of situation.
  26. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    My mistake, a momentary lapse -- I meant the "present continuous" (or the "present progressive," as we also call it) and I will correct it above.

    As I mentioned in my post above, we tend to use the future in English when we wish to insist upon the subject... which is just what you're doing here when you tell the old lady that you -- not she -- will pick up her dropped purse. This usage for insistence may be related to the fact that our English future is formed with an auxiliary verb ("will") that is linked to expression of the speaker's own will (=volonté). And I agree that we don't use the futur for this sort of insistence in French. So perhaps we can say that usage of the futur vs. futur proche is parallel in French and English 98% of the time... the exceptions being that English switches to the simple future in a couple of situations (insistence, or possible confusion with motion from A to B) when French uses the futur proche. :)

    I don't understand that last bit. Why would the fact that the subject happens to be "I" make any difference? If you were telling the old lady that your son would pick up her purse for her, you'd certainly say "He'll pick that up" instead of "He is going to pick it up."
  27. Francobritannocolombien Senior Member

    French - "transatlantic"
    What I meant was that some people might accuse me of comparing apples with oranges: the English sentence "I'll do it" is one that may translate "c'est moi qui le ferai" as well as "c'est moi qui vais le faire" because it is one of those sentences where the stress or the intonation (when you speak) or the bold type (when you write) gives a special status to one specific word ("I"), making it, so to speak, the whole point of the sentence. You can't do that in French unless you use additional words to emphasize one in particular. I don't feel that the sentence "je vais le faire" puts any particular emphasis on the subject being the whole point of the sentence in the same way as the English sentence does. I'm sorry I wasn't clear enough (and to be honest I'm not sure I'm clearer this time!)
  28. Woofer Senior Member

    English, USA
    I disagree very slightly with jann on #2 here. Technically, you can switch to will, but the result is a strange sentence with no context that I can't imagine anyone saying. It's the "Look!" that forces the going to here. "Look! That kid will fall off his bike" is strange to me, while "Look! That kid will fall off his bike one day" is fine. Using the simple future requires additional context in my opinion.

    But is the flipside true? My impression is that in #1 the futur proche is at least possible. Am I wrong about that?

    1. Zut! J'ai oublié, je suis desolée. Je la posterai cet après-midi.
    2. Regarde! Ce gamin va tomber de son vélo.
  29. sclubusher

    sclubusher Senior Member

    Hello There,

    J'ai fait quelques excercices sur ce sujet : Will- Going to , et il y a certain point que je ne comprends pas, les voici ci-dessous

    1) If he passes his exam he 'S GOING TO stay in England for a year. His aim is to speak English fluently

    2) David has failed his exams I 'M NOT GOING TO congratulate him

    3) Do you want me to help you?
    No thanks. John IS GOING TO help me.

    4) Can you help me with this? I don't understand.
    I WILL give you a hand as soon as I've finished this.

    Je ne comprends pas du tout pourquoi les trois premiers, c'est To be going to. et le dernier Will.

    Car on utilise is going to be lorsque l'on fait une prédiction dont on ai sûr, ou bien quelque chose de prévu à l'avance. Or là, je ne vois aucune des conditions. J'aurais mis Will aux 3 premières, sûr.

    Et pour will, je crois que c'est Okay, c'est parce que, il n'y à rie nde prévu au préabable, ça n'as pas été prévu à l'avance qu'il l'aide, donc Will.

    Merci pour votre aide à tous :)
  30. quinoa Senior Member

    Avec "be going to", il y a toujours l'action qui a été envisagée avant, alors qu'avec "will" cette action est prédite en relation avec le moment où se fait l'énoncé.

    I will give you a hand est pleinement conditionné au fait que je finisse d'abord ce que j'ai entrepris.
    Dans tous les autres cas, même le premier, les actions ont toutes été envisagées auparavant, que ce soit le séjour en Angleterre (même s'il est conditionné par la réussite , il a été déjà prévu), les félicitations (on a déjà prévu de les faire, on a pris la décision) ou l'aide (je ne vais pas l'aider car il semblait peut-être normal ou évident que je le fasse ou qu'on attende que je le fasse).
    Last edited: May 9, 2011
  31. Lwtidy Member

    Surrey, UK

    Je suis anglais, donc j'espère que je peux vous aider. Les deux appartiennent au futur simple, le même tense.

    'Will' - c'est quelque chose qui est souvent voluntaire, ou quand on promet de faire qqch.

    'Going to' - c'est quelque chose qu'on va faire qui est projeté / prévu (i.e. planned)

    Donc dans les premiers trois cas, il me semble qu'on utilise going to parce que toutes les actions sont prévues.

    Cependant, le dernier utilise 'will' puisque c'est une action plus spontanée et voluntaire.

    J'espère que ça vous aide!
  32. chamyto

    chamyto Senior Member

    Burgos, Spain
    As they have told you , the reason is because in the first three sentences people have planned those activities .
    When it concerns to the fourth one , it´s an immediate action , not planned previously .

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