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cnsvnc
2008-12-01, 11:10 AM
Dear native speakers of English,

Do you ever pay attention to the difference between "will" and "going to" when speaking and writing? I sure don't (at least not consciously), and it doesn't seem to cause any problems. Yet I remember a whole lot of class time spent on it during my youth, and it seemed like it should've been important.

Yours etc,
A non native English speaker


PS: And now I become a bugbear. Wonder if it has any bearing on the subject at hand...

Neko Toast
2008-12-01, 11:20 AM
As a native English speaker, I never really noticed a difference...

I have noticed that 'going to' is used by parents a lot. "Are you going to clean your room today?" "You're going to wash the dishes after supper." In some situations, it's used more as a command.

'Will', on the other hand, is more like a question or a suggestion. "Will you do this for me?" "Will you please help me move?"

It's a subtle difference, but one none the less.

Kcalehc
2008-12-01, 11:27 AM
Generally I use 'will' when accepting a task or offering to help another; whereas 'going to' is when simply stating my intent to do something. Though the two are largely interchangeable, except in some circumstances. Often I use 'will' to mean more immediacy than 'going to;' i.e. I'll say I will do something, if I intend to do it now, or I'll say I'm going to do something if I intend to do it later.

Thats just me however, I've no idea if thats th common usage or indeed correct one; as a native speaker I tend not to analyse what I say that closely to other native speakers. (though admittedly my British English usage does occasionally confuse my American English speaking wife and vise versa)

valadil
2008-12-01, 11:50 AM
I'm aware of the difference, but it rarely comes up in actual speech. Will is more binding whereas going to is something that I plan on making happen, but those plans could get interrupted.

Griever
2008-12-01, 11:57 AM
Interesting point:

When beginning to learn French, we touched base on the difference between "going to" and "will". As early French students, we called "going to" as close-future "tense" (wide definition there!), for example:

Je vais danser avec un zombi albino.

I am going to dance with an albino zombie, as opposed to conjugating "danser" in the future tense (which I would show you, but I seem to have forgotten :smallredface: )

Neko Toast
2008-12-01, 01:28 PM
Interesting point:

When beginning to learn French, we touched base on the difference between "going to" and "will". As early French students, we called "going to" as close-future "tense" (wide definition there!), for example:

Je vais danser avec un zombi albino.

I am going to dance with an albino zombie, as opposed to conjugating "danser" in the future tense (which I would show you, but I seem to have forgotten :smallredface: )

"Je danserai avec un zombi albino."

I remember that discussion in French class as well.

Flame of Anor
2008-12-01, 02:08 PM
Pourqoi est-ce que vous danserez avec des zombis?? Les zombis sont dangereux!!!

A Rainy Knight
2008-12-01, 05:38 PM
When you're carrying on a conversation, I doubt that any native speakers will (or should I say are going to? :smalltongue:) notice the difference.

I guess I would just say that to answer questions that use one or the other future tense, answer using the same one.

Example: "Are you going to wash the dishes?" "Yes, I am (going to)"

"Will you go to the dance with me?" "No, I won't."

Dragonrider
2008-12-01, 06:00 PM
On the other hand, you've got

"I was going to the prom, but I change my mind."

So that's a different usage of the phrase in which 'will' would not be applicable.

In other words, 'going to' can in some cases be used for past tense as well as future.

captain_decadence
2008-12-01, 09:51 PM
No, that's just a mistake.

There are two sentences that you seem to have mixed up.

"I was going to the prom but I changed my mind." This sentence means that you were actually physically on your way there but you stopped and returned home (or went somewhere else, whatever). The "was going" means that you were in the process of going, but in the past.

"I was going to go to the prom but I changed my mind." This sentences means that you had intended to go to the prom (like the I am going to but in the past) but then you changed your mind.

This can be problematic because English, like every other language, uses verbs in phrases. In the first sentence, the going is the physical movement or it means "to attend" whereas the second has the phrase that means "I intended to" plus the "go" that means "a physical movement towards" or "to attend." It's in the past tense, but it is the future of that past (if that makes any sense at all).

Edit: My training as a translator finally pays off by granting me the ability to explain grammar! Woo-hoo.

Haruki-kun
2008-12-01, 11:31 PM
According to my English Teacher, when you take on a task or when a decision is made, you say "will". Example: "My toy truck is broken!" "I'll fix it!"

When stating something that has already been decided, you say "going to". "Why are you looking for the tools?" "Because I'm going to fix the toy truck."

averagejoe
2008-12-01, 11:40 PM
In terms of formal grammar there's probably a huge difference, because formal grammar is, by and large, very silly and contains a lot of arbitrary yet rigid rules that most people just ignore. Colloquially, however, there's almost no difference.

Phase
2008-12-01, 11:48 PM
It's all about the words. Will is a verb, whereas Going To is... a prepositional phrase?

View the following, in which independent clauses are italicized:

I will.
You will
We will.
He/She/It will.

As opposed to:

I am going to.
You are going to.
We are going to
He/She/It is going to.

Otherwise they have exactly the same meaning.

@^ Grammar FTW!

Don Julio Anejo
2008-12-02, 12:01 AM
Pourqoi est-ce que vous danserez avec des zombis?? Les zombis sont dangereux!!!

Parce que je n'ai pas des cerveaux.

Exeson
2008-12-02, 05:23 AM
It's all about the words. Will is a verb, whereas Going To is... a prepositional phrase?

View the following, in which independent clauses are italicized:

I will.
You will
We will.
He/She/It will.

As opposed to:

I am going to.
You are going to.
We are going to
He/She/It is going to.

Otherwise they have exactly the same meaning.

@^ Grammar FTW!

I find your grammar lacking. :smalltongue:

Don't forget! in the first person Will turns into Shall.

I shall
You will
He/she/it will

We shall
You (pl) will
They will

thubby
2008-12-02, 06:34 AM
I find your grammar lacking. :smalltongue:

Don't forget! in the first person Will turns into Shall.

I shall
You will
He/she/it will

We shall
You (pl) will
They will

this is why i hate proper english. :smallannoyed:

ForzaFiori
2008-12-02, 06:45 AM
amazing! for once my schooling is paying off. I understood both all the grammar talk, and (I think) most if not all of the french in this thread.

also, in "Parce que je n'ai pas des cerveaux." shouldn't it be de, instead of des? the n' pas makes it negative, so you have to use the negative article, right?

Phase
2008-12-02, 06:49 AM
I find your grammar lacking. :smalltongue:

...
:smallannoyed:

Come, we shall duel.

dish
2008-12-02, 09:38 AM
The main problem with the difference between "will" and "going to" is that "will" has a huge multitude of uses in English.

If we're purely referring to the future tense, then "will" is used for predictions such as:
"I think it will rain tomorrow." Or,
"Don't lend your car to Phase, he'll crash it."
And also for instant decisions:
"Do you want tea or coffee?" "I'll have tea."

"Going to" is used for plans, as in:
"I'm going to make some tea." Or,
"I'm going to study really hard for this test."
However, "going to" can also be used for predictions, but only if you can see signs of those predicitons in the present. For example, I'm in a car with Phase and I see we're heading straight for a bus, so I say,
"Watch out, we're going to crash!"

It gets even more complex, because, as I said above "will" (and "shall") are used as modal verbs of willingness or intention. Thus they can be used to show:
promise - "I'll buy you a bicycle for your birthday."
request - "Will you clean up that room for me?"
offer - "Shall I get your coat for you?"
suggestion - "Shall we go for a swim tomorrow?"
threat - "Just wait - you'll regret this!"
hopes - "I hope she'll get that job she applied for."
And plenty more.

(I teach English grammar for a living, but I did double-check this information with the Longman English Grammar by L.G. Alexander.)

Alien
2008-12-02, 10:24 AM
Can't you also say 'I think it's going to rain tomorrow'?
I understand the point though, going to crash your car more means he has the intent to do so.

I generally use will as a more strong intent than going to, "I swear, I will," vs "I'm going to do it, some day, I think."

I'm not a native, though.

averagejoe
2008-12-02, 10:30 AM
I find your grammar lacking. :smalltongue:

Don't forget! in the first person Will turns into Shall.

I shall
You will
He/she/it will

We shall
You (pl) will
They will

That's silly. I've hardly heard anyone use shall who wasn't being ironic. It's like insisting people use whom. (Okay, I sometimes do that, but that's just a leftover habit from when I was younger.)

Telonius
2008-12-02, 11:02 AM
Oh come on now. If we're using "shall," it ought to be:

I shall
thou shalt

:smallwink:

dish
2008-12-02, 11:31 AM
Can't you also say 'I think it's going to rain tomorrow'?
You can, but only if you see signs of it now, for example, storm clouds gathering.


I understand the point though, going to crash your car more means he has the intent to do so.
Well, if you leave the house saying, "I'm going to crash the car." Then I think it's become a threat more than a plan. In the example I used, "Watch out, we're going to crash!" is used to predict the future because I can see current signs (a bus heading straight for us) that the prediction is going to come true.


I generally use will as a more strong intent than going to, "I swear, I will," vs "I'm going to do it, some day, I think." In that case you're using "will" as a modal auxiliary to show intent (as in, a promise) rather than as the 'pure' future tense.


I'm not a native, though.
Then your use of English grammar is very good.

Edit for averagejoe:

That's silly. I've hardly heard anyone use shall who wasn't being ironic. It's like insisting people use whom. (Okay, I sometimes do that, but that's just a leftover habit from when I was younger.)
It completely depends on the variety (dialect) of English which is being used. British English tends to use "shall (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shall#Current_usage)" more than American English, for example.

B-Man
2008-12-02, 01:18 PM
I've always found the use of 'going to' less formal than the use of 'will' for similar meanings. I work in a call centre and I tend to pick my vocabulary based on whether or not the customer has built up enough rapport. I tend to use 'will' if the customer is really distant with me and 'going to' with customers that are kind of closer, trying to make the call more personal.

LCR
2008-12-02, 01:22 PM
According to my English Teacher, when you take on a task or when a decision is made, you say "will". Example: "My toy truck is broken!" "I'll fix it!"

When stating something that has already been decided, you say "going to". "Why are you looking for the tools?" "Because I'm going to fix the toy truck."

I think it's just adorable how you're adapting your examples to baby week.
Yes, you're a good baby. Googoogjoob.