Mastering 'Will' vs 'Going to'

Will vs Going to: Mastering English Grammar Choices to Perfect Your Language Skills

No Comments

Derek Cupp

By Derek Cupp

Mastering English grammar can be a tricky task, especially when it comes to distinguishing between similar structures such as “will” and “going to”. Often confused, these two forms play essential roles in expressing future intentions, predictions or decisions. Yet, recognizing their subtle differences is key for communicating effectively and naturally in English.

I’ve noticed that learners often toss up between them, uncertain which one correctly conveys their thought. So let’s cut through the confusion together. Understanding the distinction between “will” and “going to” not only refines your linguistic skills but also boosts your confidence while conversing or writing in English.

In this article, I’ll take you on a journey exploring every nook and cranny of the “Will vs Going to” conundrum. We will dig deep into examples, usage rules and exceptions – everything you need for mastering these crucial elements of English grammar.

Understanding the Basics: When to Use ‘Will’ and ‘Going to’

English grammar can sometimes feel like navigating a maze, especially when it comes to future tense. Two words often used interchangeably are ‘will’ and ‘going to’. But let’s dig into their specific uses.

The word will typically refers to spontaneous decisions made at the moment of speaking or for predictions based on personal opinions. If I decide right now that I’ll have pizza for dinner, that’s a spontaneous decision. Similarly, if I say “I think it’ll rain tomorrow,” it’s an assumption based on my judgment—not something I planned or know for sure.



Spontaneous Decision

“I’m hungry—I’ll order a pizza.”

Prediction (Opinion)

“I believe they’ll win the game.”

On the other hand, we often use going to when we’ve decided our plans in advance or when making predictions based on evidence or facts. If you’ve already decided what movie you’re going to watch this weekend—that’s a plan. And if dark clouds are gathering outside and you say “It’s going to rain,” it’s an assumption based on observable evidence.



Planned Action

“I’m going to watch Avengers this weekend.”

Prediction (Evidence)

“Look at those clouds—it’s going to rain!”

Now that we’ve covered these basics, let me be clear—there is some overlap in usage between will and going to. Sometimes both can be used interchangeably without changing the meaning significantly, but understanding these nuances helps us communicate more precisely.

Remember not just what you’re saying but how you’re saying it! Knowing whether your choice communicates spontaneity vs planning, opinion vs evidence makes all the difference in adding clarity and depth to your conversations in English.

Common Mistakes in Using ‘Will’ vs ‘Going to’: How to Avoid Them

I’ll start by saying that, mastering the use of ‘will’ and ‘going to’ can be tricky. One common mistake among English learners is using these two interchangeably, which isn’t always correct. Here’s how you can avoid this.

Firstly, we often use ‘will’ when making decisions at the moment of speaking or for future predictions that are not based on present evidence. It’s also used for promises, offers, requests, or commands. On the other hand, we use ‘going to’ when there is a clear intention or plan before the moment of speaking and for predictions based on present evidence.

For example:

  • Incorrect: I’m going to decide later.

  • Correct: I’ll decide later.

Here’s another one:

  • Incorrect: The sky looks dark. It will rain.

  • Correct: The sky looks dark. It’s going to rain.

Another common error is using ‘will’ after time clauses such as when/while/before/after/as soon as/until which should instead be followed by a verb in the base form (infinitive without ‘to’).

Like so:

  • Incorrect: When you will arrive home tonight, call me.

  • Correct: When you arrive home tonight, call me.

Also keep in mind that native speakers often contract “I will” to “I’ll”, “she will” to “she’ll”, etc., but with “going to”, it’s more common just drop out the ‘to’, especially in spoken English – so instead of saying “I’m going to go”, many people would say “I’m gonna go”.

Remembering these simple rules can help improve your grasp of English grammar tremendously!

Conclusion: Mastering Your Grammar Choices with ‘Will’ and ‘Going to’

I’ve taken you through the ins and outs of using ‘will’ versus ‘going to’. Deciding which one to use can often leave language learners scratching their heads. But as I’ve shown, understanding the context is key.

When you’re looking at future events that are certain or planned, it’s best to reach for ‘going to’. So if you’re talking about your plans for next weekend, say “I’m going to visit my friend,” instead of “I will visit my friend.”

On the other hand, when making promises or spontaneous decisions, I turn towards ‘will’. When assuring someone of something in the future, like returning a borrowed book, I’d say “I will return it tomorrow.”

This table showcases some examples:



Planned events

Going to

Promises / Spontaneous Decisions


Remember that these aren’t hard-and-fast rules. English is a living language and these usages can change based on region or colloquial usage.

It’s important not to get overly hung up on this choice between ‘will’ and ‘going-to’. If you choose one over the other in casual conversation, most native speakers won’t even notice. However, aiming for accuracy helps improve your command over English.

Continuing practice and exposure will help cement these concepts in your mind. And remember – even native speakers sometimes make mistakes!

Leave a Comment