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In this sentence:

On Friday I’m going to a concert with some friends. Two local punk bands _____ – they’re quite good.

Can I write "play" or is it "are going to play"? And in this sentence:

On Saturday my basketball team _____ an away match.

Can I write "plays" or is it "are going to play"? Thank you :D

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There are a number of ways to refer to the future in English. However, one of the sentences you suggest is clearly incorrect: you definitely should not use the "simple present" play in the first sentence. It sounds completely unacceptable to me:

  • On Friday I’m going to a concert with some friends. *Two local punk bands play [incorrect] – they’re quite good.

The simple present is more acceptable in the second sentence than the first, but nonetheless I don't think it would be a good choice in general, only in certain specific circumstances that I can't quite pin down.

  • On Saturday my basketball team plays [possible but I don't recommend it] an away match.

    (I would use singular verb agreement with the collective noun team, but some other speakers would use plural verb agreement. Either is considered acceptable.)


One option for referring to the future that you haven't mentioned and that I think would be a good choice here is the progressive. I think both of the following sentences sound quite natural:

  • On Friday I’m going to a concert with some friends. Two local punk bands are playing – they’re quite good.

  • On Saturday my basketball team is playing an away match.

The present progressive can often be used like this when you have a phrase like "on Friday/on Saturday" that indicates the time in the future when the event is going to occur.

The "be going to" construction that you mentioned also sounds fine to me here:

  • On Friday I’m going to a concert with some friends. Two local punk bands are going to play – they’re quite good.

  • On Saturday my basketball team is going to play an away match.


It's also possible to combine the progressive with the future marker "will", as in the following example:

  • On Friday I’m going to a concert with some friends. Two local punk bands will be playing – they’re quite good.

For some reason, this doesn't sound as good to me in the second sentence.

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