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I hope you can help me clarifying. I've watched this video that explains the difference between "Will" and "Going to" (with referring to future plans specifically). With reference to such video the teacher says the use of "Will" is bounded to instant decision, while "Going to" is used to refer a future planned before the moment of speech. The examples made however are in positive, for example it covers case like

I'm going to eat out this evening

which means that in the future I'll eat out, but that such event has been previously planned. While

I'll eat out this evening

means that in this moment I'm kind of planning my future. It makes perfectly sense to me that the meaning of

I won't eat out this evening

means that I'm planning now to don't eat out, but what about

I'm not going to eat out this evening

Is this suppose to suggest in general that I have other plans for the evening?

  • You can definitely say "I'm not going to eat out this evening" if you don't have plans to eat out this evening, and you think you won't change your mind. – Peter Shor Feb 1 '17 at 14:42
  • @PeterShor is this discussion related somehow on how to use the "ing" for the future? Like "I'm eating out this evening", is it grammarly correct (for a future) and, if it is, what's the meaning? – user8469759 Feb 1 '17 at 14:45
  • They're two different constructions. Whether they're related somehow is a question for linguists to argue about. – Peter Shor Feb 1 '17 at 14:46
  • No I mean... is the use of "present continuous" to express future supposed to express "plans" as well? – user8469759 Feb 1 '17 at 14:52
  • Teasing out differences in nuance between all the following when finishing each one up with "...fish for dinner later on this evening" isn’t quite so hard as catching a rainbow, but it’s definitely getting there: I am going to have, I am having, I will have, I will be having, I am not going to have, I am not having, I will not have, I'll not have, I won't have, I will not be having, I won't be having, I'll not be having, I SHALL not be having. – tchrist Feb 1 '17 at 16:17
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Native English speakers use going to and will interchangeably in many sentences, even sometimes when the events are (or are not) planned in advance. For example, both "the fireworks will start at 7pm tomorrow" and "the fireworks are going to start at 7pm tomorrow" are perfectly fine, even though it's clear they've been planned well in advance.

So it's tough figuring out these differences in meaning.

I have found a context that makes some of these differences in meaning clear to me. I can't say which other contexts these differences carry over to.

I can't watch the movie with you; I'm going to eat out this evening.

Here, it sounds to me like the dinner was planned in advance.

I can't watch the movie with you; I will eat out this evening.

This sounds rather rude to me, because it doesn't sound like the dinner was planned in advance.

I can't watch the movie with you; I eat out this evening.

Here, the simple present sounds to me like habitual action: the speaker eats out every Monday evening.

I can't watch the movie with you; I'm eating out this evening.

Again, the dinner sounds like it was probably planned in advance.

However, simple present continuous doesn't necessarily mean an event has been planned in advance. Both of the following are perfectly fine, and mean the same thing.

It sounds to me like you really need help; I'll come over right after work.
It sounds to me like you really need help; I'm coming over right after work.

The negative of these constructions behaves more or less like the positive. You don't have to have other plans to use "I'm not going to eat out this evening." You can use it if you just aren't planning to eat out. For example, you could say:

I'll be at home at 8:00 if you want to telephone me then; I'm not going to eat out this evening."

  • To be honest I do think that most of the times they do mean the same thing, unless I want to stress something in particular. However as I pointed out often (even famous manuals devoted to conversation purpose) they point out such difference, which sometimes confuse me. – user8469759 Feb 6 '17 at 15:27
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Your first two examples have the same meaning. Your second two examples have the same meaning. It doesn't matter if your plans were made weeks or moments ago.

Specifically, in your second two examples, it doesn't matter if you plan to do something else; or if you actually plan to do nothing at all; or if you have no plans, but simply do not wish to eat out.

  • Are you sure? That's not what I've been reading. – user8469759 Feb 3 '17 at 19:56
  • Well, this has been my experience. I'm not a language professor, but I have been speaking American English for fifty odd years and I have read thousands of books over the years. – Davo Feb 3 '17 at 20:29
  • @Davo: you mean you would say "I can't see the movie with you tonight; I'll eat out this evening"? I certainly wouldn't. – Peter Shor Feb 6 '17 at 2:27
  • @PeterShor: I haven't had a reason use your sentence as written, no. But I have used the construction of the first half and that of the second half, independently. – Davo Feb 6 '17 at 12:25
  • @Davo: the construction of the first hand and the second half independently are perfectly normal. Putting them together gives a sentence that sounds rather rude to me, because it sounds like the eating out wasn't planned in advance. – Peter Shor Feb 6 '17 at 12:30

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