Will, be going to - Some example sentences.

maybenot

Member
Japanese
(1) She's probably going to fail the driving test.
(1') She'll probably fail the driving test.

(2) Am I going to get introduced to the President?
(2') Will I get introduced to the President?

(3) There's going to be lots of questions asked.
(3') There'll be lots of questions asked.

(4) I don't think he's going to come.
(4') I don't think he'll come.

(5) I wonder if you're going to be able to get there in time.
(5') I wonder if you'll be able to get there in time.

(6) Is this train going to stop at Rockport?
(6') Will this train stop at Rockport?

Is there a difference in meaning in the above pairs of sentences except maybe that the use of be going to tends to add more informality to the speech?
 
  • (1) She's probably going to fail the driving test.
    (1') She'll probably fail the driving test.

    (2) Am I going to get introduced to the President?
    (2') Will I get introduced to the President?

    (3) There's going to be lots of questions asked.
    (3') There'll be lots of questions asked.

    (4) I don't think he's going to come.
    (4') I don't think he'll come.

    (5) I wonder if you're going to be able to get there in time.
    (5') I wonder if you'll be able to get there in time.

    (6) Is this train going to stop at Rockport?
    (6') Will this train stop at Rockport?

    Is there a difference in meaning in the above pairs of sentences except maybe that the use of be going to tends to add more informality to the speech?
    Hello Maybenot,
    To me, "be going to" versus the other option sounds more informal but not by much. In other words, there is a small difference between the choices. This is just my opinion. Let's hear what the others say. And by the way, welcome to the forum.:)

    Drei
     

    Marty10001

    Senior Member
    Ireland/English
    "Will" is a modal auxiliary verb. It is used with other verbs to add various meanings, mostly to do with degrees of certainty or obligation.
    From your example you can see which is the stronger statement:
    a) Is this train going to stop at Rockport?
    b) Will this train stop at Rockport?
     

    winklepicker

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    Be going to, IMHO, is a sign of natural usage, certainly in BE. So except in extremely formal circumstances I would recommend going to over will.
     

    okey-dokey

    Senior Member
    English / UK, London
    Be going to, IMHO, is a sign of natural usage, certainly in BE. So except in extremely formal circumstances I would recommend going to over will.
    I am not so sure about that. Take the following snippet, for example:

    Child: "Mum, this potato's cold."
    Mum: "Really? I'll pop it back in the oven for a minute."

    It would be strange if she said, "Really? I'm going to pop it back in the oven for a minute." It would be as if she already knew it was cold.

    For me, one distinction between the meanings of be going to and will is that the former indicates intention and the latter decision.
     

    maybenot

    Member
    Japanese
    Thanks everyone for the responses. I get a general sense that native speakers agree on the slight difference in formality expressed in the examples.

    I have deliberately tried not to cite examples that more clearly involve either intention or decision, as in okey-dokey's snippet. My focus here is on a vast area of usage where will and be going to overlap in meaning.

    I have one more pair that I would like to run by everybody:

    (7) Joan is going to have a baby in June.
    (7') Joan'll have a baby in June.

    I know that a number of grammar books strongly counsel against (7') for reasons that aren't entirely clear (or even convincing) to me.

    Based on your responses here, I'm inclined to posit that although (7') may not typically be used in casual conversations, it is suited in more formal, well-argued contexts like:

    Penny with her present husband is pregnant and will have a baby in late September or the first part of October. Clinton has changed his occupation from a farmer to a loan officer. The evidence shows... (Starke v. Starke Civil No.890389CA)

    or

    Todd Hendrics was abruptly fired by BYU after he spoke out about apparent faults in student elections. BYU decided they didn't like what he said, so they fired him and took away his health insurance. Hendricks' wife will have a baby in June, but she'll do so without the health benefits given by BYU.

    Am I off the mark?
     

    Marty10001

    Senior Member
    Ireland/English
    I think and I am not absolutely sure but "going" is used for leisure, eg. "I am going fishing", "I am going to take a drive in the country". I suggest all other uses should be "will".
    Matbenot: I wonder if the objection is to "Joan'll" - this is not correct and ugly. Use "Joan will" instead and it is fine. In speech you will hear "Joan'll be here tomorrow" but it's a bit sloppy.
     

    AWordLover

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I think and I am not absolutely sure but "going" is used for leisure, eg. "I am going fishing", "I am going to take a drive in the country". I suggest all other uses should be "will".
    Matbenot: I wonder if the objection is to "Joan'll" - this is not correct and ugly. Use "Joan will" instead and it is fine. In speech you will hear "Joan'll be here tomorrow" but it's a bit sloppy.
    Q: What are you doing this weekend?
    A: I think I'll go for a ride in the countryside.
    A: I think I'll go fishing.
    A: I'll fish, and maybe work on the novel I'm writing.
    A: I'm going fishing.

    I wouldn't find any of these answers strange sounding in AE.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Based on your responses here, I'm inclined to posit that although (7') may not typically be used in casual conversations, it is suited in more formal, well-argued contexts like:

    Penny with her present husband is pregnant and will have a baby in late September or the first part of October. Clinton has changed his occupation from a farmer to a loan officer. The evidence shows... (Starke v. Starke Civil No.890389CA)

    or

    Todd Hendrics was abruptly fired by BYU after he spoke out about apparent faults in student elections. BYU decided they didn't like what he said, so they fired him and took away his health insurance. Hendricks' wife will have a baby in June, but she'll do so without the health benefits given by BYU.

    Am I off the mark?
    Hi maybenot

    No, you're not off the mark: the use of "will" in these two extracts looks exactly right to me.

    Loob
     

    maybenot

    Member
    Japanese
    Thanks, Loob.

    Now, with my initial questions behind us, I'd like to return to okey-dokey's snippet:

    Child: "Mum, this potato's cold."
    Mum: "Really? I'll pop it back in the oven for a minute."

    I know okey-dokey finds it strange for Mum to say "Really? I'm going to pop it back in the oven for a minute" in this situation, but I wonder if some on this forum, especially speakers of American/Canadian English, might react a little differently.

    From my years living in the U.S., I recall be going to being used in lieu of will in all sorts of ways in casual conversations, and that includes something like:

    (1) That's a neat trick! I'm going to (gonna) do that, too!

    (2) That's disgusting! I'm going to (gonna) leave!
     

    okey-dokey

    Senior Member
    English / UK, London
    Thanks, Loob.

    Now, with my initial questions behind us, I'd like to return to okey-dokey's snippet:

    Child: "Mum, this potato's cold."
    Mum: "Really? I'll pop it back in the oven for a minute."

    I know okey-dokey finds it strange for Mum to say "Really? I'm going to pop it back in the oven for a minute" in this situation, but I wonder if some on this forum, especially speakers of American/Canadian English, might react a little differently.

    From my years living in the U.S., I recall be going to being used in lieu of will in all sorts of ways in casual conversations, and that includes something like:

    (1) That's a neat trick! I'm going to (gonna) do that, too!

    (2) That's disgusting! I'm going to (gonna) leave!
    I only write about my knowledge of native British English especially of the south-east of England. 'Going to' in my example would certainly come across as I explained or perhaps quaint.
     

    dobes

    Senior Member
    US English(Boston/NY)
    'going to' indicates 1) a plan or intention (Is this train going to stop..), or 2) a prediction with some present evidence to back it up (she's going to have a baby). Please note though, that it would be more common to ask "Does the train stop at Rockford", since the present tense is usually used to indicate routine or scheduled events.

    'will' is more complex, but can mean a sudden decision (I'll put it back in the oven), a prediction without current evidence to back it up (I think she'll fail), or a request.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi again maybenot

    (1) That's a neat trick! I'm going to (gonna) do that, too!

    (2) That's disgusting! I'm going to (gonna) leave!
    (1) and (2) are fine: in both, the speaker is announcing an intention, so they fit neatly under dobes' first use of going to. {Useful post there, dobes:thumbsup:}

    Child: "Mum, this potato's cold."
    Mum: "Really? I'll pop it back in the oven for a minute."

    I know okey-dokey finds it strange for Mum to say "Really? I'm going to pop it back in the oven for a minute" in this situation
    As for the "Mum" sentence, though, I agree with okey-dokey that going to sounds odd. This is because it converts an instant decision "l'll..." to an announcement of intent "I'm going to...". It might just work if the Mum was turning potato-popping into a game: "Now, don't you worry darling, I'm going to pop it back in the oven. Just watch Mummy! She's picking up the plate, and she's turning on the oven, and ooh! there goes the potato". But in this scenario, the child would probably be too young to tell Mum about the cold potato anyway;)

    Loob
     

    maybenot

    Member
    Japanese
    Hi Loob:

    >(1) and (2) are fine: in both, the speaker is announcing an intention, so they fit neatly under dobes' first use of going to.


    If the speakers of (1) and (2) are announcing their intentions, aren't their intentions simultaneously decisions that they made as a result of finding something neat and disgusting, respectively?

    Or let me rephrase okey-dokey's snippet, if I may:

    (3) Mum: (to herself) Oh, this potato's still cold! I'm going to (gonna) pop it back in the oven.
     

    dobes

    Senior Member
    US English(Boston/NY)
    You can think of it this way:

    In the instant she decides to pop the potato back in the oven, she says, "I'll pop it back in the oven."

    But even one minute later, as she's walking, potato in hand, to the oven, it's become an intention, a plan. So Hubby says, "Where're you going with that potato?" And she says, "It's cold, so I'm gonna pop it back in the oven for a moment."

    The final step in this progression is when a plan becomes set in stone -- arrangements have been made, there is no going back. Then it's "I'm putting this potato back in the oven" -- the present continuous to indicate that arrangements have been made and would be hard to change.
     

    maybenot

    Member
    Japanese
    Dear Dobes:

    My point of proposing

    (3) Mum: (to herself) Oh, this potato's still cold! I'm going to (gonna) pop it back in the oven.

    is to suggest that in this utterance as in (1) and (2), the decision and the intention don't arrive in sequence.

    However, I take it that your point is that (3) sounds unnatural.

    I'm a bit surprised, given my experience with American English, that nobody from the U.S. or Canada finds (3) colloquially plausible while seeing both (1) and (2) natural-sounding.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top