Wednesday, 4 May 2016


Be going to: form

We use be going to + the base form of the verb:

I’m going to take a few exams at the end of the year.

It’s going to be difficult to get a job during the summer as the tourist industry is suffering from the economic downturn.

Be going to: uses

Be going to is commonly used in informal styles.


We use be going to to talk about future plans and intentions. Usually the decision about the future plans has already been made:

She’s going to be a professional dancer when she grows up.

I’m going to look for a new place to live next month.


We use be going to to predict something that we think is certain to happen or which we have evidence for now:

It’s going to snow again soon. (The speaker can probably see dark snow clouds.)

Look out! He’s going to break that glass.


We use be going to when we give commands or state that something is obligatory:

[parent to a child]

You’re going to pick up all of those toys right now. This room is a mess!

Gonna (informal contexts)

Spoken English:

We use gonna /gənə/ instead of going to in informal contexts, especially in speaking and in song lyrics. We write gonna to show how to pronounce it:

Are you gonna try and get stuff sorted as soon as you can then? (Are you going to try and get things organised as soon as you can?)

One day I’m gonna be a star.

Be going to or will?

Will is often used in a similar way to be going to. Will is used when we are talking about something with absolute certainty. Be going to is used when we want to emphasise our decision or the evidence in the present:

[An ‘A’ road is a main road. A ‘B’ road is a smaller road.]

We are now very late so we’re going to take the ‘B’ road. (the speaker refers to the present and emphasises the decision)

I know the ‘B’ road will be quicker at this time of day. (the speaker states a fact)

Will: form

Affirmative form

Will comes first in the verb phrase in a statement (after the subject and before another verb). It is often contracted to ’ll in informal situations:

The next Olympic Games will be in London.

I’ll give you a call at about 6 o’clock.

Will cannot be used with another modal verb:

You will be obliged to sign a contract before starting employment.

Not: You will must sign a contract… or You must will sign a contract

Will can be followed by have to or be able to:

You’ll have to let me know when it arrives.

She will be able to live nearer her parents if she gets the job.

Negative form

The negative form of will is won’t. We don’t use don’t, doesn’t, didn’t with will:

They won’t tell us very much until January.

Not: They don’t will tell us very much until January.

We use the full form will not in formal contexts or when we want to emphasise something:

I’ll carry her but I will not push a pram.

Question form

The subject and will change position to form questions. We don’t use do, does, did:

Will you be home earlier tomorrow?

Will I be able to take this brochure home with me?

Will the number be in the phone book?

Not: Does the number will be in the phone book?

We can use will and won’t in question tags:

You won’t forget to take the cake out of the oven, will you?

It’ll take quite a long time to get there, won’t it?

Will or ’ll?

We commonly use ’ll as the short form of will and shall. In speaking, willand shall are usually contracted to ’ll, especially after subject pronouns (I,we, you, they, he, she, it):

We’ll meet you outside the coffee shop. (more common in speaking thanWe will meet you …)

However, in some contexts ’ll is normally the only choice. In such cases, ’ll is best not seen as a contraction of either will or shall, but as an independent form.

As an independent form, ’ll is often used to indicate a personal decision:

There’s the cinema. We’ll get out here and you can park the car over there.

Not: We shall/will get out …


Anyone want a drink?


I’ll have a tomato juice, please.

’ll is also used for indicating decisions or arrangements where will or shall would sound too direct and too formal:

OK. My diary says I’m free on Wednesday. So we’ll meet next Wednesday.


A noun phrase + ’ll is not normally acceptable in writing:

Jan’s father will fetch you from the station.

Not: Jan’s father’ll fetch you …

’ll is not used in a tag or a short answer:

[talking about the offer of a cheap hotel room]


But you’ll have to be quick. Everyone will be after it, won’t they?


Yeah, they will.

Not: Yeah, they’ll.

Will: uses

Certainty in the future

One of the main uses of will is to refer to things in the future that we think are certain:

The rooms will be redecorated but all the facilities will be the same.


He’s still there at the moment.


He’ll be there until the new guy starts.

[talking to a child]

Will you be 5 in September?

Making predictions

Will is used to make predictions about the future:


Have you decided what you are going to do with the car?


No. Father thinks it’ll cost a lot of money to fix.

I think they’ll be off in January again. (they’ll be away, possibly on holiday)

Some predictions are about facts – things that we know always happen:

It’s all wool. It’ll shrink if you wash it in hot water.

Some predictions are about the present:

That’ll be Katie shouting. (The speaker is certain. He or she makes a deduction because of what they know about the situation.)

Conditional sentences

We often use will (or the contracted form ’ll) in the main clause of a conditional sentence when we talk about possible situations in the future:

If she gets the job, she will have to move to Germany.

I’ll take a day off if the weather’s fine next week.

Intentions and decisions

We use will for immediate intentions and decisions. We usually use ’ll, not will, after I think:

When I go and see Marie, I think I’ll take her some flowers.

What will you do with that soup? Will you just put it in the fridge or will you freeze it?

I think I’ll have some orange juice, actually.

We use will and be going to for decisions, intentions and plans. We use will when the decision is immediate and be going to when we have already made a plan:


It’s too expensive to fly on the Friday. Look it’s nearly £200. It’s only £25 to fly on Thursday.


We’ll fly on Thursday then.


Great. That will save us lots of money.

We’re going to drive to Birmingham on Friday, and Saturday morning we’re going to drive to Edinburgh.

Willingness and offers

Will is often used to express someone’s willingness to do something or to make offers. It is often used with I in this context:

I’ll show you where to go.


It’s just a leaflet that I’ve got.


Just the leaflet. Right, I’ll go and get you a brochure too.

I’ll give you a lift to the hotel.


We use will to make promises:

I’ll be there for you. Don’t worry.

We’ll always love you.

Requests and invitations

We often make requests or invitations with will:

Will you pass me the salt?

This tastes good. Will you give me the recipe?

Will you come for dinner on Saturday?


We sometimes give commands or orders using will:

Will you be quiet, please!

Will you stop picking your nails!

It is also used to insist that someone does something:

But you will have to do it. You’ll have no choice.

[parent to child]

You will wear it whether you like it or not.

General truths

Will is used to describe something the speaker thinks is generally true:

[talking about making complaints at hospitals]


Do you think they should try and make it easier for people to complain?


No, cos some people will always complain. (cos = because in informal speech)

Habitual events

We use will to refer to events that happen often:

[talking about a younger sister, Celia, who doesn’t eat properly; she refers to Celia]

Celia will start to get upset if she has to eat cabbage or meat like chicken breast. My mum will say, ‘Just try it’. And she’ll start shaking her head and going, ‘No. I don’t want to’. Mum will put it near her mouth and she’ll start to cough.


Will is also used to talk about repeated behaviour which the speaker does not like or approve of. Will is normally stressed here:

He will leave his clothes all over the floor. It drives me mad. (stronger than He leaves his clothes all over the floor.)

Inanimate objects (things)

Will may be used to refer to inanimate objects and how they respond to humans, most typically in the negative form won’t:

The car won’t start.

The door won’t open. It’s stuck.

Will and shall

We use will for all persons, but we often use shall with I and we. Will (’ll) is generally less formal than shall when used with I and we:

Simply complete the form and return it to me, and I shall personally reserve your hotel room for you.

We shall look at a full report from the centre.

We’ll see you in the morning.

Shall also has a special legal use for talking about rules and laws. In these cases, we often use it with third-person subjects:

According to the basic principle of human rights, people shall not be discriminated against because of their nationality, race, age, sex, religion, occupation and social status.

Shall and will are both used to talk about intentions and decisions. Shall is more formal than will.


I’ll see you later. I won’t be late.         informal

I shall see you later. I shan’t be late. formal

Spoken English:

In speaking ’ll is much more common than will and shall.

Will is much more common than shall in both speaking and writing.

Will and shall: uses


We use will and shall to make predictions and to state facts about the future:

There will be strong winds tomorrow in the south of the country.

The year 2025 will be the four-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the university.

We shall need an extra bedroom when the new baby arrives.

Decisions and offers

Will and shall (usually in the short form ’ll) are used to announce decisions and to make offers:

[a salesperson in a clothes shop is talking to a customer]


Which size do you want? Medium or large?


I’ll have large. (decision)

Wait. I’ll open the door for you. (offer)

Not: Wait. I open the door for you.

shall contact you again when I have further information.

Shall with I and we

We can use shall instead of will with I and we in statements. Its use is more formal:

We shall never forget the holiday we had in Vietnam.

When we use shall I and shall we in questions it is usually to make suggestions rather than to refer to future time:

It’s getting late. Shall we go home?

Shall I invite Louisa and Jill to the party?




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