A REVISION OF FUTURE TIME (PART ONE)

mai 17, 2010 à 2:13 | Publié dans english (all), intermediate english | Laisser un commentaire

*Image created at wordle.net

Talking about the future in English can be confusing. This lesson looks how we use WILL and BE GOING TO to discuss the future, and addresses some common errors.

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Read through the following dialogue and focus on the ways in which WILL and BE GOING TO are used.

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David: So, Ben, what are you going to do this weekend?

Ben: Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe I’ll go see my parents, but it depends if they’re busy or not. I’m going to work on the house a bit, as I have some renovation work to do. I know Amy said something about having dinner on Saturday, so maybe we’ll go out to a nice restaurant or something, who knows?

David: Sounds good. I heard it’s gonna be sunny on Sunday, but the weather is so fickle at the moment; it’s snow one day, or wind, or rain, and beautiful, warm sunshine the next.

Ben: Well, if it’s sunny on Sunday, I’ll be outside enjoying every minute of it.

David: Same. Actually, if it’s nice, maybe I’ll have some friends round for a barbecue. What do you think?

Ben: Yeah, you should. I’ll definitely come.

David: What about your wife?

Ben: I dunno, I don’t think she’ll want to come; she has a lot of work to do for her university course.

David: But it’s already Thursday and it looks like it’s going to rain all afternoon.

Ben: Look on the bright side – at least you’re not missing out by being at work.

David: Yeah.

Ben: Anyway, I better get back to work. I’ll see you later.

David: Okay , bye!

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fickle: capricieux; changeant

missing out: manquer un evenement; rater une occasion

look on the bright side: regarder le bon côté des choses; prendre les choses du bon côté

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FORMS AND CONTRACTIONS

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Before learning the grammar points, it is important to memorize the contractions for these two future tenses.

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WILL

I will = I’ll

I will not = I won’t

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BE GOING TO

I am going to = I’m going to (also, very informally, and in spoken English “I’m gonna”)

She’s not going to = I’m not going to (also, very informally, and in spoken English “I’m not gonna”)

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WHEN THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE

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Sometimes WILL and BE GOING TO can be used with very little, or no difference in meaning. The grammar points below explain the situations in which it is necessary to choose, but in many sentences there is no preference.

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e.g.

I think it will be warm tomorrow OR I think it’s going to be warm tomorrow

We’ll talk about that later OR We are going to talk about that later

When are you going to be home? OR When will you be home?

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CERTAINTY VERSUS UNCERTAINTY

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Choosing between WILL and BE GOING TO is often related to how certain we are an action or event in the future.

When we have planned an activity, or we can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that something is going to happen, we use BE GOING TO.

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e.g.

Sarah is going to have a party this weekend

I’m going to watch a movie tonight

They’re going to have dinner together next Tuesday

I’m going to book my flight sometime in June

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When we are not sure about whether something is going to happen, it is almost always better to use WILL.

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e.g.

I’m not sure whether to go to the party or not – maybe I will

Dan says he’s not sure whether he’ll be able to make it to the party

Perhaps they’ll call later on

I haven’t decided if I’ll leave in August or September

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NOTE: Often when we use IF in our sentence, we prefer WILL (see the lesson “USING IF”). We also use WILL more often with the following phrases – probably, I expect, I’m sure, I think, I don’t think, I guess, I suppose, I doubt, I wonder.

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PLANNED VERSUS SPONTANEOUS DECISIONS

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We make a distinction between WILL and BE GOING TO depending on whether we made our decision previously, or at/around the moment of speaking.

If we have made the decision to do something in the future at a previous time (last week, a year ago, yesterday, an hour ago) then we use BE GOING TO.

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e.g.

I went to that restaurant a few weeks ago, and I had a great steak. We’re going to go again tomorrow and I’m going to have the steak again.

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When we make a decision at the time of speaking, instantly, or on the spot, we use WILL.

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e.g.

(a waiter asks you what you would like to drink at a café) I’ll have a cappuccino please, and a glass of water

It’s hot in here isn’t it? I’ll open the window and let some fresh air in; there’s no need to turn on the air conditioning

(your friend tells you Dan called whilst you were getting groceries) Okay, I’ll call him back in a minute

(a friend wants to be buzzed in to your apartment) Okay, I’ll let you in

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buzz someone in: ourvir à quelqu’un (via l’interphone)

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Look at the differences between the two possible responses, and try to familiarize yourself with the difference between using WILL and BE GOING TO.

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Do you know that next Monday is a bank holiday?

(i.) Yes, I’m taking a short vacation with my wife

(ii.) No, really? I’ll book a hotel and go on a short vacation with my wife

James is in hospital; he was in a car crash last week and broke his leg

(i.) I didn’t know that. I’ll go and visit him today after work

(ii.) I know, I’m going to visit him one day after work

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NOTE : When we are ordering food, drinks, or choosing anything from a menu or list, we use WILL.

e.g. I’ll have a pizza with olives, and a glass of white wine, please

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PREDICTIONS WITH “WILL” AND “BE GOING TO”

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When we make predictions, we can sometimes use both WILL and BE GOING TO.

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e.g.

The euro is in big trouble. It’ll continue to fall against the dollar for the next 6 months at least

The euro is in big trouble. It’s going to continue to fall against the dollar for the next 6 months at least

It’ll be hard to leave Montréal; it’s a beautiful city

It’s going to be hard to leave Montréal; it’s a beautiful city

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However, there is often a difference in meaning (for example in terms of certainty or confidence), and sometimes only one correct verb can be used.

We use WILL more often when the prediction is based on opinion or experience.

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e.g.

Caroline is usually great with kids. The children will love her.

He won’t want to go to the pub, he’s studying

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We use BE GOING TO when the prediction relies on signs or tendencies that are present at the moment of speaking. The situation, or what we see in front of us, makes us predict a certain event. We cannot use WILL in these situations.

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e.g.

That car is driving too fast. It’s going to cause an accident (NOT will)

Look at the sky. It’s going to rain (NOT will)

There is a man on top of that building; he’s going to jump (NOT will)

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Sometimes there is only a small, stylistic difference, which occasionally reveals how certain the speaker is of what they are saying, or of their prediction coming true.

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Jack is having a hard time at school at the moment

(i.) He’ll be okay

(ii.) He’s going to be okay

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NOTE: Here the difference is very subtle, but the second sentence suggests more confidence and certainty than the first one.

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Now read through the following sentences. Choose whether WILL or BE GOING TO is the correct verb, or whether BOTH are acceptable. Answers are provided at the bottom of the article.

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  1. Are you going to go/will you go out without a sweater? It’s cold tonight.
  2. I’ve already chosen my dessert. I will /am going to have the tiramisu.
  3. I haven’t decided whether I am going to/will go to South America or the Caribbean for my summer vacation.
  4. That guy is driving really badly – he is going to/will cause an accident.
  5. We are going to/will visit the museum sometime over the weekend, but we don’t know when.
  6. Okay, I’m obviously boring you – I will/am going to stop talking about it.
  7. Our flight won’t/isn’t going to be delayed because of the weather, is/will it?
  8. Nina: It’s really nice outside, I am going to/will take a walk. Olivia: Sounds great, I am going to/will come too.
  9. You look tired, I am going to/will get you a glass of water.
  10. Frank: Do you need a ride to the airport tomorrow? Penelope: No, don’t worry, I am going to/will take a taxi.

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Fill in the gaps with the appropriate verb. Answers can be found at the end of the lesson.

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  1. It’s a bit noisy, I __________ shut the door.
  2. That picture looks like it __________ fall any minute now and smash on the floor.
  3. I’ve decided that I _________ go to a Chinese restaurant for my birthday.
  4. Paul said that he __________ be a doctor when he is older.
  5. If you keep going along this road then you __________ miss it. It’s a big brick building.
  6. You want to talk to my manager? Okay, I __________ go and find him for you.
  7. I __________ to visit my friend tomorrow and have a few drinks on her balcony, do you want to come?
  8. Sam __________ come unless we go somewhere cheap, I bet you.

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Answers:

  1. Are you going to go/will you go out without a sweater? It’s cold tonight.
  2. I’ve already chosen my dessert. I will /am going to have the tiramisu.
  3. I haven’t decided whether I am going to/will go to South America or the Caribbean for my summer vacation.
  4. That guy is driving really badly – he is going to/will cause an accident.
  5. We are going to/will visit the museum sometime over the weekend, but we don’t know when.
  6. Okay, I’m obviously boring you – I will/am going to stop talking about it.
  7. Our flight won’t/isn’t going to be delayed because of the weather, is/will it?
  8. Nina: It’s really nice outside, I am going to/will take a walk. Olivia: Sounds great, I am going to/will come too.
  9. You look tired, I am going to/will get you a glass of water.
  10. Frank: Do you need a ride to the airport tomorrow? Penelope: No, don’t worry, I am going to/will take a taxi.

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  1. It’s a bit noisy, I will shut the door.
  2. That picture looks like it is going to fall any minute now and smash on the floor.
  3. I’ve decided that I am going to go to a Chinese restaurant for my birthday.
  4. Paul said that he is going to be a doctor when he is older.
  5. If you keep going along this road then you won’t miss it. It’s a big brick building.
  6. You want to talk to my manager? Okay, I will go and find him for you.
  7. I am going to to visit my friend tomorrow and have a few drinks on her balcony, do you want to come?
  8. Sam won’t come unless we go somewhere cheap, I bet you.
A REVISION OF FUTURE TIME (PART ONE)

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