1. I will buy an umbrella when it rains.

  2. I will buy an umbrella when it is going to rain.

What is the difference between the first one and the second one?

Besides, can I change it to "when it is raining" in the first sentence?

Thanks a lot!

  • 1
    1. It starts to rain and then you buy an umbrella. 2. It looks like it will start raining soon, so you buy an umbrella.
    – user3169
    Oct 3, 2016 at 18:06
  • Thanks a lot!!! But can we say: "Now it is going to rain soon." which means " Now it looks like it will rain soon?"
    – moyeea
    Oct 3, 2016 at 18:08
  • 4
    We would say: "It's going to rain soon." It is not idiomatic to include "now", and in normal speech we will almost always contract "it is". Also: the sentence "I will buy an umbrella when it is raining" sounds almost like a joke! It means that the person will wait until he is drenched before deciding to buy the umbrella. "When it is raining" means the rain has already begun. We would buy an umrella "before it rains," or "before it starts raining." Oct 3, 2016 at 18:10
  • But can we say "I will buy an umbrella when it rains" "when it rains" also means maybe it already rained.?
    – moyeea
    Oct 3, 2016 at 18:53
  • If you have new questions, you should post them as questions, not in comments. Or you could edit this question and clarify that the answer you have received doesn't fully expunge all your doubts and uncertainties. There's nothing wrong in making a question more detailed or more complex!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 4, 2016 at 4:21

1 Answer 1


I will buy an umbrella when it rains.

The next time it rains, I will buy an umbrella. Or possibly the time after that.

I will buy an umbrella when it is going to rain.

The next time it looks like rain, I will buy an umbrella.

I will buy an umbrella when it's raining.

I'm not going to buy an umbrella until it's actually raining.

  • But in the second sentence, " I will buy an umbrella when it is going to rain". Can this one refers to the moment " when it rains"?
    – moyeea
    Oct 3, 2016 at 18:28
  • Yes, you could wait until the last moment before it started raining, but as written the sentence implies that you plan to buy it in advance of the rain.
    – Andrew
    Oct 3, 2016 at 18:32
  • But just one thing I can't understand. "It is going to rain tomorrow" means "Perhaps it will rain tomorrow", but why"when it is going to rain" is talking about the time before it starts to rain.? And "when it rains" maybe also refers to the time when it is rainning outside, right?
    – moyeea
    Oct 3, 2016 at 18:56
  • "It is going to rain tomorrow" means "I am sure it will rain tomorrow". Of course no one can know the future, but you can make a definite prediction. Similarly, "The Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl this year," is a definite statement, even though we all know it's just an opinion. "When it's going to rain" = "When it looks like it will rain," vs. "When it rains" = "When rain is actually coming down."
    – Andrew
    Oct 3, 2016 at 19:38
  • Thanks so much! That means" when it rains" may refer to the moment that it is raining outside, right? Besides," We were just about to leave when it began to rain." In this sentence, "when it began to rain" modifies which part? modify"leave"?
    – moyeea
    Oct 3, 2016 at 19:56

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