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I'm confused by the use of "going to" in this dialogue. Here, Kate uses "going to" when replying to a question. Going to..." is often used when one is about to do something very soon. But in Kate's sentence "going to" seems to have other uses. Could you explain how "going to" works in the Kate's sentence?

Jane: I'd like to know if both sentences are correct and have the same meaning:

He answerd my letter.

He replied to my letter.

Coolie: The top suggest that the recipient of the letter took some action in return, (by writing 'As I have already told you on the phone, I am trying my best to pay back the money), meanwhile, the bottom just indicates a phyical reaction he did in turn (posting a return mail).

Kate: I'm going to have to disagree with Coolie. While there might be contexts in which the two sentences have slightly different meanings, I can't think of any right now, and in any case, most of the time, they mean exactly the same thing.

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    Don't overthink this one. I'm going to have to disagree with Coolie is just another form of "polite circumlocution" along the lines of I would disagree... There no "literal meaning" to the optional highlighted element in most contexts, beyond that simple concession to deferential politeness. Rarely, it could be more "literal", as in "I'm not looking forward to seeing your friend Coolie at our dinner party tonight, because I know he'll bring up the conflict in Gaza. I don't like arguing, but I won't be able to remain silent. I just know I'm going to have to disagree with him" Dec 13, 2023 at 13:55
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    There is no "literal meaning" to the optional highlighted element in most contexts, beyond that simple concession to deferential politeness. In rare circumstances like my "Gaza" example above, it's your sense #2. But that's irrelevant to the usage presented in your question, as I think I've already said. Dec 13, 2023 at 14:37
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    "I'm going to have to disagree..." can be a polite circumlocution, but it can also announce that you are taking a stance, asserting an opinion with conviction, albeit with some reluctance. Dec 13, 2023 at 15:54
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    I’ve upvoted both FumbleFingers’ and @TimRonsomedevice’s comments. I’d add that whichever of the two meanings is intended, it is not a “textbook” use of the phrase going to. To reiterate, it marks either deferential politeness or resolve in the face of anticipated resistance, and it does not strongly convey any sense of futurity. Dec 13, 2023 at 16:43
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    Imagine someone asks, “What time do you think they’ll get here?” and the person asked doesn’t have an answer she’s confident about. She might ponder and reply, “Hmm… I’m going to say… not before seven.” In using I’m going to instead of I’d, she conveys a somewhat higher degree of tentativeness. If she were quite comfortable with her estimates, she might say simply, “Oh, after seven.” Dec 13, 2023 at 17:44

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Obviously Kate could simply say, "I disagree," which has essentially the same meaning as "I'm going to have to disagree."

In this context, I think using the "going to have to" construction is a way to soften the disagreement. "I disagree" is a very blunt statement, and can be taken as aggressive or impolite, just the same as saying, "You're wrong!"

On the other hand, "I'm going to have to disagree" implies that you are disagreeing with reluctance, in much the same way that saying, "Unfortunately, I believe that you are incorrect" is a much softer way of saying, "You're wrong!"

To expand on "polite disagreement", there are three common conventions.

  1. Signal that you understand the other persons argument or their concern.
  2. Apologize or signal reluctance in your disagreement (this where "I'm going to have to disagree" comes in)
  3. Pretend to be less sure of your position than you actually are. (For example, using constructions like, "I think" and "I believe" to soften your language.)

In the case of using something like "I'm going to disagree", I would expect that to be the second part of a longer statement like, "I see your point, and I understand your concerns, but I'm going to disagree" or "I'm going to disagree, but only because I feel like this concern isn't being treated fairly."

Otherwise, I think simply saying "I'm going to disagree" sounds both a little cluttered and a little aggressive. At that point just say, "I disagree."

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  • I also heard a native speaker say "I'm going to disagree" without "have to". What about that? Could you explain?
    – Nyambek
    Dec 13, 2023 at 17:08
  • @Nyambek I added a bit more. I hope that helps. Dec 13, 2023 at 17:32
  • Well said. I'd add that one element of the softening is the padding of extra words itself. *With all due respect, Say, If you don't mind, I must admit, ..." Thus, coating the core message also sugarcoats it, for being coated at all. Dec 13, 2023 at 20:38
  • @YosefBaskin Your sentence uses "would" in "I'd add that one element of the softening...", could you explain how "would" in your sentence?
    – Nyambek
    Dec 14, 2023 at 2:42
  • I agree, there is a slight difference between “I’m going to have to disagree” and “I disagree”. The first one shows that I disagree with some difficulty, as if I have no other option. The second one expresses my true opinion, without any doubt or hesitation. It’s a more direct way of saying what I really think.
    – StackNance
    Dec 14, 2023 at 8:30

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