We generally use the present progressive to talk about personal arrangements and fixed plans, especially when the time and place has been decided. But we use going to structure to express our intentions. So, why do we use the pr. prog. in the following sentence?

What are we having for dinner?

That has nothing to do with fixed plans or personal arrangements. I think we asking about previous decision, so going to looks better to me. Is it correct?



What are we having for dinner?

the time and place (dinnertime, some known location) has been decided, it just has not been decided what will be served.
There will be a dinner (a fixed plan) and at least the speaker and listener will be there (personal arrangements).

This question is only about the food, and does not discuss other details of the dinner itself.

  • But what is the difference between, say, I'm getting a new job and I'm going to get a new job.? – Dmitrii Bundin Dec 26 '14 at 5:20
  • "I'm getting a new job" means that you are now in the process of getting a new job. "I'm going to get a new job." means you have some intention to get a new job, but there is probably no fixed plan to do so yet. – user3169 Dec 26 '14 at 5:36
  • I think that what will be served has actually already been decided too (by the cook). The asker is just asking about that decision. Now if people were gathering to go out for dinner but the menu had not yet been decided, I generally will use, "What should we have for dinner?" – Jim Dec 26 '14 at 6:47
  • The thing is Swan in PEU provides one as an example I'm getting a new job (It's already arranged) and I'm going to get a new job. (I've decided to). It confused me, because it seems the first one may not mean I'm in process right now. – Dmitrii Bundin Dec 26 '14 at 17:17

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