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  1. #1
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Present continuous (I am doing) for the future

    Present continuous (I am doing) for the future and going to

    A. We use the present continuous and going to + infinitive to talk about future activities and events that ae intended or have already been arranged.

    B. When we talk about an INTENTION to do something in the future, although no definite arrangement has been made, we prefer going to rather than the present continuous. To emphaise that we are talking about a DEFINITE ARRANGEMENT, we prefer the Present continuous.

    e.g Before I go to China next year, I'm going to learn some Cantonese.(rather than ....I am learning some Cantonese).

    Question 1. As native English speakers, will you think it's too complicated to differentiate "an INTENTION to do something in the future with no definite arrangement' and "with a DEFINITE ARRANGEMENT"?.

    Question 2. When you communicate in English, will you consider the above factors before using "going to" or "the present continuous"?

    Quesion 3. Do you think English is difficult for non-native English speakers to learn because there are a lot of rules of grammar have to be followed?

    Would be appreciated for your help!
    Last edited by Winwin2011; 07-Oct-2011 at 20:39.

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Present continuous (I am doing) for the future

    Quote Originally Posted by bh1234 View Post
    A. We use the present continuous and going to + infinitive to talk about future activities and events that are intended or have already been arranged.

    B. When we talk about an INTENTION to do something in the future, although no definite arrangement has been made, we prefer going to rather than the present continuous. To emphasise that we are talking about a DEFINITE ARRANGEMENT, we prefer the Present continuous.

    It is more accurate to say that we use the BE going+ to future for a future situation for which we have present evidence. There can be no question of intent in an utterance such as, "Look at those black clouds; it's going to rain". Note than when the present evidence is simply the knowledge in our own minds, then there is no effective difference between the present continuous and the Be going+to structure.

    e.g Before I go to China next year, I'm going to learn some Cantonese.(rather than ....I am learning some Cantonese).
    "I am learning Chinese" is possible here.

    Question 1. As native English speakers, will you think it's too complicated to differentiate "an INTENTION to do something in the future with no definite arrangement' and "with a DEFINITE ARRANGEMENT"?.
    We don't need to.

    Question 2. When you communicate in English, will you consider the above factors before using "going to" or "the present continuous"?
    We don't do it consciously, but there is some process in the brain that leads us to one form rather than the other.

    Quesion 3. Do you think English is difficult for non-native English speakers to learn because there are a lot of rules of grammar have to be followed?English almost certainly has no more (and no fewer) 'rules' than most other languages.

  3. #3
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Present continuous (I am doing) for the future

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    It is more accurate to say that we use the BE going+ to future for a future situation for which we have present evidence. There can be no question of intent in an utterance such as, "Look at those black clouds; it's going to rain". Note than when the present evidence is simply the knowledge in our own minds, then there is no effective difference between the present continuous and the Be going+to structure.

    "I am learning Chinese" is possible here.

    Question 1. As native English speakers, will you think it's too complicated to differentiate "an INTENTION to do something in the future with no definite arrangement' and "with a DEFINITE ARRANGEMENT"?.
    We don't need to.

    Question 2. When you communicate in English, will you consider the above factors before using "going to" or "the present continuous"?
    We don't do it consciously, but there is some process in the brain that leads us to one form rather than the other.

    Quesion 3. Do you think English is difficult for non-native English speakers to learn because there are a lot of rules of grammar have to be followed?English almost certainly has no more (and no fewer) 'rules' than most other languages.

    Is there any difference for using "going to" or "the present continuous" between British English and American English?


    In Hong Kong, I can't find any English Grammar book witten by American. Do you know any?

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Present continuous (I am doing) for the future

    Quote Originally Posted by bh1234 View Post
    Question 3. Do you think English is difficult for non-native English speakers to learn because there are a lot of rules of grammar have to be followed?
    I would point out that the writers uses we prefer and is giving these as tendencies rather than fixed rules. There are plenty of times when we could use either form.

  5. #5
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Present continuous (I am doing) for the future

    The similar threads may help you as we have had countless conversations on this forum about the use of "I will..." vs "I am going to...". To be honest, the more conversations we have, the less clear it becomes!

  6. #6
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Present continuous (I am doing) for the future

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    The similar threads may help you as we have had countless conversations on this forum about the use of "I will..." vs "I am going to...". To be honest, the more conversations we have, the less clear it becomes!
    I think that the reason it becomes less clear is that many of us believed that the 'rules' ('Will' is the pure/neutral future tense, 'BE going to' expresses intention, the present cotinuous an arrangement, etc.) we encountered when we first started studying English in some depth, or began teaching, were absolutely true.

    We assumed initially that if we used these structures ourselves in a different way, then we must be wrong. Later, we began to realise that these were not absolute rules, and then we began to fear that the whole system was pretty arbitrary.

    In fact, there are reasons for selecting one way of expressing the future over another, but the individual has a great deal of freedom. We are in the are that Michael Lewis refers to as 'Grammar as Choice'. Exercises that require the learner to fill the gap with 'the correct/appropriate future' form are often frustrating - without sufficient context, several forms could usually be used. However, in many situations, some forms are very unlikely. In the black clouds example I gave in post #2, "it is raining" is wrong.

    We each have our own ways of dealing with this. I have outlined my ideas here: http://www.gramorak.com/Articles/Future.pdf

  7. #7
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Present continuous (I am doing) for the future

    Maybe my confusion stems from the fact that I was never taught that there was a difference between the two and had no idea that anyone else thought that until I joined this forum!

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Present continuous (I am doing) for the future

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Maybe my confusion stems from the fact that I was never taught that there was a difference between the two and had no idea that anyone else thought that until I joined this forum!
    There so often isn't a real difference between the two, despite what some course books and grammars claim.

    1. I am seeing Andrea this evening.
    2. I am going to see Andrea this evening.


    I may say #1 because part of my mind is thinking about the arrangement Andrea and I made this morning; I may say #2 because my mind takes the memory of the arrangement as present evidence of the future meaning. However, in practical terms, I think it would be silly to claim that there was any difference at all between these two particular sentences.

    But:

    3. He insists on driving home after a night in the pub. He ____ an accident one day.

    is going to have is one acceptable option for the gap; is having is not. There is present evidence, but there is no arrangement.
    Last edited by Tdol; 08-Oct-2011 at 17:15. Reason: Moved 'have' from sentence to after 'going to' in 3

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Present continuous (I am doing) for the future

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    We each have our own ways of dealing with this. I have outlined my ideas here: http://www.gramorak.com/Articles/Future.pdf
    It's strange that the vast majority of linguists agree that we have no future tense, but still it keeps coming up. The two tense view makes things so much clearer IMO.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Present continuous (I am doing) for the future

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    The two tense view makes things so much clearer IMO.
    And this is not a recent theory. Some grammarians, at least, realised this a long time ago:

    Nos duo tantum habemus Tempora in quovis verba, PrŠſens & PrŠteritum Imperfectum. Wallis, Johannis, (1653.91) Grammatica LinguŠ AnglicanŠ, Oxford: Lichfield

    Two Times the Engliſh Language only knows, The firʃt, the preſent, next the paſſing ʃhows. Gildon, Charles & Brightland, John (1711.) A Grammar of the English Tongue, (7th edn,1746.104), London: Henry Lintot

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