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According to Cambridge's Advanced Grammar in Use, (Unit 11D) only will is correct in the following sentences, but not going to,

If you look carefully, you'll (not are going to) find writing scratched on the glass.

If you move to your left, you'll (not are going to) be able to see the church.

because in a situation like the above, you are describing a future event that follows another.

I would argue that in almost all conditional situations a future event may follow another, and therefore it is not a reason to distinguish will and going to.

So my question is: Can going to be used here or not?

  • You are right. I will reword my question. – tiaotiao May 25 at 4:31
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    People use are going to in this context all the time. It sounds very slightly strange to me personally, but not at all unusual. Given that it is used so often, I think it's impossible to make the claim that it's wrong. Language and grammar is fluid and necessarily changes over time and use. It may have been something that wasn't done in the past, but it's certainly done now. This seems more a prescriptive statement than anything of practical value. For all intents and purposes, I don't think this can be called wrong. – Jason Bassford May 25 at 14:57
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I have now read the passage in question which says:

We can use will or going to with little difference in meaning in the main clause of an if-sentence when we say that something (often something negative) is conditional on something else - it will happen if something else happens first

...

However, we use will (or another auxiliary), not going to, when we describe a future event that follows another. Often 'if' has a meaning similar to 'when' in this kind of sentence.

I think that it may be that the use of "will" rather than "going to" in such a case results in better writing, but that construction is in my view used too frequently to call this a rule. Such a declaration, with no particular reason given, feels very prescriptive to me. So I have to disagree with this source about this "rule".

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