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    #1

    Future time

    Hello,

    Let me ask about future time this time.

    My grandparents will celebrate their golden wedding next weekend.
    My grandparents are celebrating their golden wedding next weekend.
    My grandparents are going to celebrate their golden wedding next weekend.

    What is the difference? Meaning? Degree of formality? Other?

    Thanks.

  1. #2

    Re: Future time

    Hi Henry,

    For these particular sentences, the first and second would be more usual in L1 usage. The 'will' form (Future simple) seems slightly more formal than the present continuous form. The 'going to' form seems slightly unnatural - it's not really an intention, more a fact.

    In general, present continuous for future is used for fixed scheduled appointments or diary commitments - 'I'm visiting the dentist on Tuesday.' (I don't necessarily want to go, but there it is, in my diary, so that's where'll I'll be.)

    The 'going to' form is used for talking about what you intend or hope to do ('I'm going to wear my black jacket at the party.') It's also used with predictions about the future with evidence 'Look at those clouds. It's going to rain.' or 'I feel strange. I think I'm going to be sick.')

    The 'will' form is most often used - for predictions after 'I think' - 'I think our team will win tomorrow.' - or in first conditional sentences 'If I see him, I'll tell him'.
    - or in more formal written forms 'The conference will be held in November.'

    It's quite a complex area, though!

  2. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552
    #3

    Re: Future time

    Ah -- the future in English is a complicated thing. :)

    There are differences, but in your examples, they are very small:

    Quote Originally Posted by henryh View Post
    My grandparents will celebrate their golden wedding next weekend.
    The "will future" is used to express:

    1. a decision being made: My grandparents, after a long discussion, have come to a decision. That decision is to celebrate their Golden Wedding next year.

    2. a prediction: Knowing my grandparents, I predict that they will celebrate their Golden Wedding next weekend.

    My grandparents are celebrating their golden wedding next weekend.
    The present progressive is used to express an arrangement which has already been made: My grandparents have organised the party, invited the guests, booked the caterers and bought the decorations. They are celebrating their Golden Wedding this weekend.

    My grandparents are going to celebrate their golden wedding next weekend.
    "Going to" is used to express a plan: My grandparents decided a little while ago, and now they are beginning to organise their Golden Wedding celebrations.

    "Going to" can also be used to express something which will happen in the very near future, and you can already see the evidence that it will happen: "What is that man doing on the cliff-top? He's going to fall!" (He's dangerously close to the edge, and looks as if he's losing his balance.)

    The Golden Wedding example is not very clear, and in fact in certain situations you could use either one of the three examples with almost no change in meaning.

    Here's a clearer example. Sally is asking her friend Mary where would be a good place for a holiday for her and her husband:

    Mary: What about Rome? It's a great city with lots of history, and very romantic.
    Sally: Good idea! We'll go to Rome. [decision]
    Mary: You'll have a great time. [prediction]

    Later on, Sally tells her husband, Pete:

    Sally: OK, I've decided. We're going to visit Rome. [plan]
    Pete: Don't I have a say in this? [because Sally's "going to" means the decision has been made, and can't be changed]

    Sally books the tickets and the hotel, and makes various other arrangements. She talks to her friend Debbie:

    Debbie: So, have you decided where you're going for your holiday?
    Sally: Rome. We're flying next week. [arrangement -- the tickets have been booked]

    As usual, Pete takes too long to get to the airport, and they're in a rush to get to the plane:

    Sally: Oh no, we're going to miss the flight! [Sally has just seen the time, and has calculated that they cannot possibly get to their gate in time]
    Pete: No, we're not. We'll be there in plenty of time. [prediction]

    • Member Info
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    #4

    Re: Future time

    Thank you, Clare. I like your explanations a lot.

    • Member Info
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    #5

    Re: Future time

    Rewboss, thanks a lot. The same applies to you.

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