We use different verb forms to talk about our plans for the future – depending on what kind of plan it is.

Will (Simple Future)

We use will to talk about plans decided at the moment of speaking.

  • I forgot to phone my mum. I’ll do it after dinner.

He decides to phone his mum when he is speaking – he didn’t have a plan.

  • There’s no milk in the fridge. I’ll buy some when I go to the shops.

Subject +Will/Shall+Infinitive to denote future actions.

In addition to the simple future we can talk about future events by using either:

  • the present continuous, or
  • to be (in the simple present) + going to +verb.

 The present continuous for future plans:

The present continuous is used when we say what we have planned and arranged to do at a specific time in the future. These are fixed plans with definite time and/or place.


I‘m doing my homework this evening.

I‘m starting university in September.

Sally is meeting John at seven o’clock this evening in a restaurant downtown.

We often use the present continuous to ask about people’s future plans.

  • We’re having a party next Saturday. Would you like to come?
  • Are you doing anything interesting this weekend?

To be + going to + verb:

We use going to to talk about plans decided before the moment of speaking.

  • I’m going to phone my mum after dinner. I told her I’d call at 8 o’clock. 

He decided to phone his mum before he speaks – he already had a plan.

  • I’m going to wear my black dress tonight. I need to pick it up from the cleaners.
  • I know there’s no milk. I’m going to get some. It’s on my shopping list.

We use ‘going to’ to express the future when we intend to do something or have decided to do something but did not arrange it. It is just an intention.


A: The windows are dirty.
B: Yes I know. I’m going to clean them later.
= I’ve decided to clean them, but I haven’t arranged to clean them.

  •  We also use ‘going to’ to make predictions.

Watch out! you are going to break the glass.

It’s so cloudy! I think it’s going to rain.

  • Is/are/am + to +Infinitive

He is to leave for Calcutta this evening.

  • Is/are/am + about to + Infinitive

It is about to rain.

  • Will/Shall +be + ing ( Future continuous Tense)

They will be going to London next month.


She leaves for New York on Monday.

  • Present continuous Tense (To denote the future)

She is starting a new painting class.