Is there a semantic difference between the following two sentences?

In the future, we are planning to migrate our tool to the Z3 solver.

In the future, we plan to migrate our tool to the Z3 solver.

2 Answers 2


Yes, their meanings are the same but there is a slight difference in use.

1) A fixed arrangement in the near future is very often expressed by the present continuous tense:

In the future, we are planning to migrate our tool to the Z3 solver.

The time expression: in the future informs us of when the action will occur. You can substitute those words with any adverb such as: tomorrow, next week, in January etc.. We often use the present continuous tense when we are talking about appointments, dates, plans and programmes. think of it as being an event which we have "pencilled" in our diary or calendar. Note that the time must be mentioned otherwise the reader or listener may confuse the future meaning with the present.

2) The simple present is also used for a definite future arrangement.

In the future, we plan to migrate our tool to the Z3 solver.

However, it is more impersonal and formal than the continuous. Compare the following sentences:

I'm leaving tonight = implies it is my decision, I have made the arrangements myself.


I leave tonight = could imply that the decision was not made by me but by my company or the manager I work for.

So back to your original question, may I suggest that the second sentence in the simple present tense i.e.In the future, we plan to migrate our tool to the Z3 solver is preferred and would sound more natural coming from an enterprise/company/business source.

  • 1
    In support of Plain English, I'd have to say the preferred option would be to just delete "In the future". If they ever come to fruition, plans always involve things that (you hope) will happen in the future, so arguably it's just pointless verbiage. Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 20:51
  • @FumbleFingers You're absolutely right and the phrase would become more believable, too! But that's my humble opinion, (I don't want to be responsible for anyone thinking that the expression: "in the future" is best avoided.)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 5:15
  • I'm leaving tonight does not at all imply that it was the speaker's decision: "They're sending me to prison; I'm leaving tonight." That sentence is perfectly valid, and going to prison is clearly not something the speaker wants to do.
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 21:44
  • 1
    @ Mari-Lou: I've upvoted the answer, but (like WendiKidd, I assume) I see no justification whatsoever for the idea that the choice between I'm leaving and I leave has anything to do with volition. There's not even a slight difference on that front. Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 23:14
  • 1
    @ Mari-Lou: There's variation across different users' cultures and personal characters, but I don't think you should make too much of the "defensive/adversarial" nature of some "debates" in comments on ELU. I disagree about that "volition" nuance being relevant in this exact context, but I'm quite sure there are other contexts where something along those lines applies. You could reasonably say, for example, Venus aligns with the Sun next Monday, but I'm far less happy with Venus is aligning with the Sun next Monday (I'd much prefer will be aligning with the "continuous" aspect). Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 15:00

There is really no semantic difference between the two sentences.

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