I am reviewing tenses right now: there are some really good worksheets online. It is often confusing to know what tense you have to apply, especially while talking. Anyhow, what's confusing me now is the really subtle difference between "will" and "going to".

A: I can't hear the television!
B: I (turn) will turn it up so you can hear it.

Ted: It is so hot in here!
Sarah: I (turn) will turn the air-conditioning on.

Both times "will" future is used, but i wonder why not " going to "? Because from my understanding is, that "going to" is used when you plan to do sth, and "will" for a prediction or an assumption.

Isn't it sure that you turn it on, same as in "I am going to college after i graduate "?

Also, could you say ... turn on the aircon or does it have to be.... turn the aircon on? Where do prepositions that come with a verb go?


2 Answers 2


will has several possible meanings- including, as you say, for a prediction or an assumption.

The sun will set at 6.53 pm - future fact

I think that it will rain tomorrow - prediction

I will finish this job if it kills me - expression of firm intent

I will see John about this tomorrow - future plans

I will help you - expression of willingness

Looking at your examples, the use of will is an expression of willingness to help, in response to the first person's explanation of a problem.

If you were to say I am going to, if would imply that you had already planned to turn up the volume / turn on the aircon, but you don't intend to do it until you are good and ready. It might suggest that you are not willing to accommodate the other person's stated need.

Here is an example that uses going to

A: We have run out of toilet paper
B: It's on the shopping list: I'm going to do the shopping tomorrow.

  • 1
    Perhaps a mention about contraction in speech? It's rare that people say "I will open the door" It's always "I'll open it". But otherwise it's a full and proper answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 9, 2017 at 8:30
  • @Mari-LouA: Agreed. Note that I have ue the contracted form in my example.
    – JavaLatte
    Jan 9, 2017 at 8:35
  • I don't see any "I'll" in the answer, just the "I'm going" bit.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 9, 2017 at 8:37
  • The sun will set at 6.53 tomorrow, I will see John about this tomorrow . Both examples confuse me now. i thought thats exactly when you don't use the will future . First goes with a tomorrow which indiicates to me to use present progressive like : "The sun is setting at 6.53 tomorrow " and second example is a plan , and to me planning goes with be going to ?
    – Matthias
    Jan 9, 2017 at 10:47
  • @Matthias: Check out the link to the Cambridge Dictionary entry for will at the start of my answer: as you can see, there are several possible meanings, and there is some overlap with going to. Present continuous can be used about something happening from before to after a specified time, eg tomorrow. As far as I'm concerned sunset is instantaneous, so present simple (or future simple) would be fine. Here are some notes about when you might use present continuous. learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/verbs/….
    – JavaLatte
    Jan 9, 2017 at 13:39

When you make an instant decision (deciding now), you usually use "will".

A. It's hot in here,

B. I'll turn the AC on.

When there's an intention (something already decided), you can use "be going". For examples:

I'm going to college after I graduate or l'm going to go to college after I graduate.

I'm visiting my friend on the weekend or I'm going to visit my friend on the weekend.

Reference: Professor John Eastwood states the following on page 69, chapter 24 be going to, in his book "Oxford Practice Grammar:

The present continuous can have the very similar meaning to "be going to".

I'm going to visit my friend at the weekend.

I'm visiting my friend at the weekend.

We can use be going to with the verb go (We're going to go out this evening), but the present continuous is more usual. We're going out this evening.

  • 2
    Your going to college example does not use going to in the way that the OP intends. The to is a preposition, not an infinitive marker. The example does imply intent by using simple present to describe a future action. For the OP's usage of going to, you would have to add another going to and change the existing going to an infinitive: "I am going to go to college after I graduate."
    – JavaLatte
    Jan 9, 2017 at 8:32
  • @JavaLatte, I think you can omit to go in your sentence. Should we say Mary is going to a new school next term or Mary is going to go to a new school next term?
    – Khan
    Jan 9, 2017 at 12:47
  • 1
    Both of your Mary sentences are valid, but you are not simply omitting to go: you are using a completely different grammatical construction- one which does not match the grammatical construction of the OP's question.
    – JavaLatte
    Jan 9, 2017 at 13:24

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