% probability before speaker speaks of event happening

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Anushka Athukorala

Senior Member
Sinhalese
Hello Members

The question below is about expressing probability of something happening in the future. I found this table on the internet

“This table gives a simple scale of probability for each structure. It is not exact because language is not a science, and there are many variables. This table should help you to think about the "concept" of the future in English. This concept does not exist in all languages, but it is rather important in English.”


0% will no plan Don't get up. I'll answer the phone.
70% going to intention We're going to watch TV tonight.
90% present continuous plan I'm taking my exam in June.
99.999% present simple schedule My plane takes off at 6.00am tomorrow.


Members

on another site I read about the usage of “future continuous tense”. There they

have mentioned 5 uses of “future continuous tense” but I have a question of this use “For an action that has been planned.

They will be going on vacation this summer.

So teachers I’d like to know if this use can fit into this table or means a completely different thing and also I’d appreciate if you could give me a few example sentences of this use with some explanation.



 
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  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Probability is irrelevant.
    If I say My plane takes off at 6.00 tomorrow, I do not calculate what percentage of flights are delayed or cancelled.
    If I say The weather will be nice tomorrow, this is a prediction, but I do not calculate how many BBC forecasts are wrong.
    If I say All will be well! I am more concerned about the psychological impact of my statement on the listener than the probability that I will be proved right or wrong.
     
    Last edited:

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I agree that probability is meaningless, and with all of #2's comments,

    I do not believe that any native speaker uses these 70% and 90% lines in deciding what to say or which words to use.
     

    Anushka Athukorala

    Senior Member
    Sinhalese
    I agree that probability is meaningless, and with all of #2's comments,

    I do not believe that any native speaker uses these 70% and 90% lines in deciding what to say or which words to use.

    Hello se16teddy/dojibear

    Thank you for your explanations and examples but I would like to know according to your and dojibear’s explanations if Probability is irrelevant why there are so many structures in English such as will, going to, present continuous, present simple and future continuous.

    So leaving probability aside if you don’t mind can you please explain the difference between these structures.

    1. When you buy the car I will give you the money if you can’t find enough. (No prior plan involved)

    2. When you buy the car I am going to give you the money if you can’t find enough.

    3. When you buy the car I am giving you the money if you can’t find enough.

    4. When you buy the car I will be giving you the money if you can’t find enough.

    I have learnt that present simple is used to talk about scheduled events such as making announcement in public transport and time tables. please mention if there is anything relevant to this use of present simple.

    The Jaffna train arrives in at 7.00 a.m. tomorrow.

    English written test (or should it be writing test) is/starts on Tuesday 8.30 a.m.

    I’m mostly confused about 2, 3, and 4 usage and in what context they are acceptable to you native speakers and how can I differentiate between them? Could you please explain?
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    if Probability is irrelevant why there are so many structures in English such as will, going to, present continuous, present simple and future continuous.
    English is not something that was planned. It is a language, so it formed (and changes) with no planning. It is not "logical", and there are often multiple ways to say the same thing. This is especially true for English, because (in history) it is combination of languages: French, Anglic, Saxon, Germanic, and Viking. English has thousands of words from EACH of those languages, and it has grammar from EACH of those languages.

    Your sentences 1,2,3,4 all say the same thing. I don't know the history of each syntax, to explain "the difference".

    I’m mostly confused about 2, 3, and 4 usage and in what context they are acceptable to you native speakers and how can I differentiate between them? Could you please explain?
    You are asking about ALL uses of them in ALL contexts. You want to know what rules exist to "differentiate between them", and what rules exist for when each can be used. I do not know those rules. I am just a fluent speaker, not a scholar. There are English teachers (and scholars who study English) who know that information and have published it on the web. You should search on the web, to find out about rules for using these verbs and how to differentiate between tenses.

    To learn them, I would search the web. But it is better for you to search. Your English is good enough to understand these websites. You will learn much more information, much more accurately, by reading the websites than you will learn by someone in this forum giving you brief summaries.

    Wikipedia.org has many good articles about English grammar. I also do google searches ("present continuous", "will vs going to") and find links to many other English grammar websites.
     

    Anushka Athukorala

    Senior Member
    Sinhalese
    Hello dojibear

    I'm sorry about the late reply and thank you very much for your explanation. I have been trying to learn the subtle differences among them for a long time and I still have not been able to understand them well enough to use them confidently anyway I will search the web as you suggested.
     
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