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From the Cambridge Dictionary

have yet to: If you have yet to do something, you have not done it

They have yet to make a decision.

I also read the tutorial on Yale and the post "Be yet to do" vs "have yet to do".

I guess I understand the meaning of it. I'd just like to know the difference between the example above and the one below

They are going to make a decision.

When should I use which?

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    'Going to X' means you intend to do X, and not necessarily for the first time. 'Have yet to' means you haven't done X, and doesn't strongly entail that you ever will.
    – user207421
    Jun 29, 2020 at 0:23
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    I have yet to win the lottery. But I'm not going to, since I don't play.
    – Polygnome
    Jun 29, 2020 at 13:24

3 Answers 3

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Are going to: a statement about the future

You use are going to if there is a stated or known intention about a future action or event:

"They said they would vote on it today. They are going to make a decision."

It's essentially the same thing as this:

"They will make a decision."


Have yet to: a statement about the present

You can use have yet to in the same situation—but it more accurately reflects a situation in the present:

"They said they would vote on it today—and we're still waiting. They have yet to make a decision."

There is an additional nuance that you are waiting for the thing to happen, rather than it being a simple statement about a future event.


In addition, you can also use have yet to in situations where there is no reasonable assumption about a future event:

"I have yet to win the lottery."

I might never win the lottery, but the use of have yet to is still an accurate description of the present.

(If I instead said, "I am going to win the lottery," as a statement of fact, I could be accused of rigging the event illegally—otherwise, how could I be certain of such a thing?)

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    You don't have to be absolutely certain, "going to" can be used to refer to intent or fervant hope.
    – Barmar
    Jun 28, 2020 at 16:28
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    @Barmar: I suppose so, but that is not what "going to" means. Compare "I'm going to be a star one day" with "I'll be a star one day", which both express your intent or fervent hope. In other words, the idea of intent or fervent hope comes not from the "going to" construction, but from our human feeling for people's hopes and dreams in general -- psychology, not grammar.
    – TonyK
    Jun 28, 2020 at 16:48
  • @TonyK True, I was mainly responding to the suggestion that it implied cheating to ensure that it happens.
    – Barmar
    Jun 28, 2020 at 17:10
  • @TonyK "I'm going to be a star one day" means you will be a star one day. This statement is probably wrong.
    – user253751
    Jun 29, 2020 at 11:29
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Have yet to do means something like Have not done yet something you expect should have been done (keeping you waiting anxiously maybe). Are going to do is neutral and does not convey such expectation.

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"We have yet to decide to go on vacation" means "We are still trying to decide whether to go on vacation but haven't yet decided.

On the other hand, "We are going to go on vacation." means "Our intention is to go on vacation though we have not done so yet." In both instances the vacation has not been realized. However, there is a more positive aspect to the 2nd sentence and the listener can infer that the vacation is imminent (It is going to happen.) In the 2nd sentence, the decision could go either way so the listener would be advised not to rely as much on the eventuality of a vacation. The decision makers could stall for a month, a week, etc. The word 'yet' puts the whole proposition into question.

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  • "We are going to go on holiday, but have yet to decide where" would also work
    – freedomn-m
    Jun 29, 2020 at 8:32

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