"Be going to" Form and Usage

We can express the future with "be going to + infinitive." In this section we'll look at how to form the future simple using "going to" as well as when to use this tense.

To learn the differences  between "be going to" and "will/shall" click here.


"Be going to" statements (affirmative and negative)

Forming this tense is rather simple. We can use contractions (e.g., I'm, he's) and we add "not" in front of "going to" to form the negative.

Here are some examples to make sure this is clear:

  • I am going to see a play tonight. (I'm going to see a play tonight.)
  • It's late so I don't think he's going to do his work tonight.
  • Look at those clouds. It's going to rain soon.
  • We're not going to see my mother this summer.
  • My favorite team is going to play tomorrow evening.
  • He's going to tell his boss he's resigning today.
  • I'm afraid they're not going to read the whole report.

Questions using "be going to" form

To form of questions, we invert the subject (e.g, I, you) and "is/am/are." If we use a wh- question word, we insert it at the beginning of the sentence.

Examples:

  • Who is going to read the next paragraph?
  • Are you going to speak at the conference?
  • Is he going to cry again today?
  • What is she going to cook for dinner?
  • Are they going to sleep all day?
  • When are we going to eat lunch?
  • Is he going to tell us what to study for the test?
  • Where is your brother going to sleep when he visits you?

Uses of "be going to"

There are two main uses of "going to" + the infinitive.

Future planned action

We can use "going to" to describe a planned action that will happen in the near future. We've already decided or planned this action.

  • I'm really tired so I'm going to sleep early tonight.
  • Next week I'm going to start a new diet.
  • My daughter's going to study law at college next year.
  • He's not going to speak at the conference.
  • Are you going to come to my party tomorrow?
  • What are you going to wear to the dance?
  • Let's also get some beer. My boyfriend's not going to drink wine.

Note: we can also use the present continuous  to talk about planned future arrangements. They are very close in meaning  so it's possible to use either form:

  • Next week I'm going to New York on business. (present continuous)
  • Next week I'm going to go to New York on business. (Be going to)
  • Are you attending the lecture this afternoon? (Present continuous)
  • Are you going to attend the lecture this afternoon? (Be going to)

Prediction based on present situation

We can use "going to" to express a prediction  (guess / estimate) about what may happen in the future based on what is happening right now.

Examples:

  • It's 7 PM and the sun is going down. It's going to get dark soon.
  • Look at the line. It's going to take a long time to get a table.
  • The sun is coming out. It's going to be a beautiful day after all.
  • Only five people signed up? My boss is not going to speak to such a small audience.
  • I got a D on my exam. My parents are going to kill me.
  • Keep up the good work and you're going to get a raise.

For a more detailed explanation of the different ways (going to, will, shall) we can talk about the future simple, please click here.


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