2

She is going to spend her vacation in Hawaii.

Does it mean that the speaker knows for sure that she has decided to go Hawaii ? OR does it mean that the speaker just guesses or speculates that ?

  • It is the future continuous. And, yes, it is a simple statement of fact - she has decided to go to Hawaii, as you guessed. – Mick Oct 3 '16 at 5:00
  • Nice, but if the speaker is sure that she has decided to go Hawai , what would he say? – Gamal Thomas Oct 3 '16 at 5:30
  • @MickSharpe the future continuous would be: She will be spending her vacation in Haiwaii. The OP is correct in saying that the example is "going to" future. – Mari-Lou A Oct 3 '16 at 8:29
  • Related loosely:About to vs Going to – Mari-Lou A Oct 3 '16 at 17:19
2

She is going to spend her vacation in Hawaii.

There are two possible interpretations of this sentence according to grammar books.

  1. intention
    The speaker expresses the woman's intention to spend her vacation (in British English ‘on holiday’) in a specific destination. The decision was taken at some point in the past, we do not know if the hotel or the flight are booked but when there is no time expression such as; next month, in December, next summer, we usually infer the immediate or near future.

Put simply, she has made the decision — in the past — to travel and spend her vacation in Hawaii

  1. Prediction
    The person is about to spend her vacation on the Hawaiian islands. We base our prediction on something that can be seen, and therefore deduced. We might see the person in an airport with her boarding card, maybe she and her partner are wearing typical Hawaiian-style shirts. Or maybe she is actually boarding a Hawaiian Airline airbus which is scheduled to take off.

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Usually a sentence similar to the OP's refers to the first meaning, but without context we can never be 100% certain.

References

Advanced Language Practice by Michael Vince

Unit 2 Tense Consolidation: future time

3. Be going to describes intentions or plans. At the moment of speaking the plans have already been made.

I'm going to wait here until Carol gets back

Going to is also used to describe an event whose cause is present or evident.

Look at that tree! It's going to fall.

Decisions expressed with going to refer to a more distant point in the future.

A Practical English Grammar Fourth Edition, by A.J.Thomson, A.V.Martinet

206 The be going to form used for prediction

A The be going to form can express the speaker's feeling of certainty. The time is usually not mentioned, but the action is expected to happen in the near or immediate future [...]
B 1
be going to implies that there are signs that something will happen

  • Thanks Mari, it is so helpful. In the second usage (about to) is equevalent to "will" right? – Gamal Thomas Oct 3 '16 at 17:08
  • @GamalThomas no, not really. "About to" is more immediate than "going to", but "will" can be used for distant future. Oh, you're talking about promises, or instant decisions like: I'll be ready in a minute or "Yes, we love the house. We'll buy it!" The meaning isn't exactly the same as "about to" or "going to". – Mari-Lou A Oct 3 '16 at 17:14
1

Yes. It seems that the speaker knows it as a fact. Else, it could have been said that "she may be going to".

Allwords.com defines "going to" as:

Going to - verb

"Going is the present participle of "to go" and "to," in this case, denotes an inifnitive. "Going to" is technically a progressive participle, in which "going" serves as an auxillary verb, and is always preceded by the verb to be or a conjugation thereof. It is, however, almost always used as form of the future tense: I am do do, I will do, I shall do); or as the past progressive(imperfect) to indicate definite non-completion: "I was do" as as opposed to "I was doing."

I have also taken definitions and examples from dictionary.com which goes as:

going to

About to, will, as in I'm going to start planting now, or Do you think it's going to rain? or We Thought the train was going to stop here. This Phrase is used with a verb ( start, rain, stop in the examples) to show the future tense.Occasionally the verb is omitted because it is understood. For example, That wood hasn't dried out yet but it's going to soon, or Will you set the table?—Yes, I'm going to"

But in this example it is pretty clear the the action is about to happen in the future for sure.

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