I'm going to/I'll erase this

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NevenaT

Senior Member
Serbian/Croatian
Hello everyone!

So I was teaching the difference between 'will' and 'be going to' to a group of students today.

In almost all the explanations I've encountered so far, 'will' is used when we decide something at the moments of speaking. I'd just explained all of this, and went on to erase the content on the board, when I said 'I'm going to erase this now, everyone', so a student asked 'why did you use going to and not will?', and frankly I was at a loss for an explanation, as I know I've heard it a million times (going to in cases such as this one), but I don't know what's the reason for it. May it be that it's because this action had been sort of pre-mediated in my mind?
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "Going to" is an alternative to "will" if the situation (and thus the future action) is entirely under your control (or you assume that it is under your control):

    'I'm going to erase this now, -> you have the power to say what will happen in the future.

    "Will" is more generally used because it is a prediction of the future, and the future is uncertain - it can be used to express things that are probable. In this meaning "Will" = "intend to unless something very unusual happens".

    I will/am going to erase this now... Oh... where is the eraser? I've lost it... I will erase it tomorrow... if I can find the eraser then."

    More broadly, there is not a lot of difference and either can be used.
     

    NevenaT

    Senior Member
    Serbian/Croatian
    Alright, thank you. 'Going to' is after all used to express immediate future, so that could be the meaning that I'm looking for as I want to classify it grammatically.
     

    NevenaT

    Senior Member
    Serbian/Croatian
    It doesn't really, they're all used with a couple of meanings each. Including the one about immediate future. I've always been confused by these two tenses because the 'real' language I've heard differs from what they teach in books. It's easier now that you say they can both be used without 'major' differences. It does sound like someone's more determined if they use 'going to'.
     

    NevenaT

    Senior Member
    Serbian/Croatian
    Or at least more likely to do it, for whatever reason, the one of being in power to complete the action seeming like a valid one.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Hello everyone!

    So I was teaching the difference between 'will' and 'be going to' to a group of students today.

    In almost all the explanations I've encountered so far, 'will' is used when we decide something at the moments of speaking. I'd just explained all of this, and went on to erase the content on the board, when I said 'I'm going to erase this now, everyone', so a student asked 'why did you use going to and not will?', and frankly I was at a loss for an explanation, as I know I've heard it a million times (going to in cases such as this one), but I don't know what's the reason for it. May it be that it's because this action had been sort of pre-mediated in my mind?
    Both "will" and "be going to" are about the present as well as the future.

    "Will" is used about the present to say that the person is "disposed" to doing something, i.e. willing or with the right mindset to do it.

    "Be going to" is used about the present to say that the person is "on their way" to getting something done. It shows intention but, because it is always in the progressive aspect, is "interruptible".

    For me, "I'm going to" fits your context better than "I will". I understand it as saying that you intend to erase the board unless someone needs to interrupt you.

    Where I live, we have another "future tense", "I'm fixing to". It says that my action is imminent yet interruptible, so it is like "I'm going to" but for a closer future.
     

    NevenaT

    Senior Member
    Serbian/Croatian
    Thabk you for the excellent explanation. It never occured to me that 'will' mighy be derived from 'willing', and that is exactly what it means. It's some decision you make and then act upon.
     
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