How to say that you have plans to go to the movies tonight (but you are not sure yet, maybe you will have a pizza)? I mean there are options:

I am going to the cinema tonight.

Way too much certainty in this. For me it means that you have already bought tickets, the least.

I am going to go to the cinema tonight.

Sounds a bit awkward.

I will go to the cinema tonight.

Sounds too formal to me.

  • 3
    You've used 'cinema' in your examples. You might want to change that to 'movies' as your question uses 'movies'.
    – Varun Nair
    Dec 22, 2015 at 12:29
  • @VarunKN it's fine; sense #2. We don't restrict ourselves to InE!
    – Maulik V
    Dec 22, 2015 at 12:34
  • All seem quite certain that you are going to some movie. If you are not sure, you must include that by putting probably, may, think, plan etc words.
    – Maulik V
    Dec 22, 2015 at 12:36
  • That's an entire different point of discussion. english.stackexchange.com/questions/21694/…
    – Varun Nair
    Dec 22, 2015 at 12:40
  • If you say these sentences word for word, they do sound formal, or very certain. But at least with the first two, if I heard them said more casually ("I'm goin' to the cinema tonight" or "I'm gonna go to the cinema tonight") they would sound very natural to me, especially if cinema is replaced with movies (but that might just be my regional opinion).
    – Numeri
    Dec 22, 2015 at 18:00

4 Answers 4


I am going to the cinema tonight.

This indeed shows that plans are already made (not necessarily that tickets are bought already, but the speaker is sure that he will end up watching a movie tonight).

I will go to the cinema tonight.

This is not "formal" as you mentioned, but for this scenario rather implies spontaneous decision (the speaker decided that he will go to the cinema just now).

If you want to express uncertainty, you could go with:

I am planning to go to the cinema tonight.

I'm thinking about going to the cinema tonight.

I might go to the cinema tonight.

  • 2
    Another option, a bit less uncertain: "I'm probably going to the cinema tonight."
    – ssav
    Dec 22, 2015 at 12:33
  • 1
    A shade more uncertainty would be "I may be going", similar to might be
    – Peter
    Dec 22, 2015 at 18:19
  • @Peter "may" feels a bit more formal than "might", but other than that I agree.
    – anon
    Dec 23, 2015 at 5:23
  • -1 I will go to the movies (or cinema) has nothing to do with spontaneity. It expresses the speaker's current resolve to carry out a future action, thus 'a promise'.
    – GoDucks
    Jan 7, 2016 at 4:41

A far more casual response could be, "I'm thinking of catching a movie (film, flic, or flick) tonight."

I am Canadian and as such, I do tend to borrow from the French, hence, flic/flick for film.

  • 3
    Flick isn't French, it's short for flicker.
    – ssav
    Dec 22, 2015 at 15:06
  • Yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man Dec 22, 2015 at 16:11
  • 1
    The French for "film", is "film"...
    – Tom Bowen
    Dec 22, 2015 at 16:35
  • Frankly (which is franchement, in French) "flic" actually means "police", in a casual way. Dec 24, 2015 at 2:33

You could simply say:

I have plans to go to the movies tonight.

Plans are plans, not cast in stone, and are implicitly subject to change. You nailed the answer in your question.

  • 1
    Slightly alternatively, I usually say "I intend to go..." if I've gotten as far as the planning phase (e.g. looking up times, finding something interesting, checking my financial situation, etc). I'm not sure if that's me, or something regional, but I consider it to be a reasonable alternative.
    – phyrfox
    Dec 23, 2015 at 2:30

I'm answering based on common, informal speech. Not necessarily proper, well structured English.

"I think I'm gonna go to the movies tonight.

"I think I'm gonna go to the movies."

In the second example, it's okay to drop "tonight" because it's just common and expected that you'll be seeing a movie in the evening.

"I think I'm gonna go see a movie."

"I might go to the movies."

It's my experience (Canada) that this type of speech is more common. You rarely ever hear people say theater or cinema in this context. Typically people will use "movie" or "movies" when describing the act of going to the theater to see a movie, because they're describing the event rather than the location or venue.

Where you will hear people use theater/cinema is in speech directly associated with the location rather than the event.

On the phone, Jane asks Jim where he is. He replies:

"I'm at the theater."

.. rather than:

"I'm at the movies".

... although it would be perfectly acceptable in informal speech and convey the same meaning to use the latter. Again, to illustrate the point about location versus event:

Jane: "Where did you get those cool 3D glasses?"
Jim: "At the theater."


Jane: "Can you grab me a pack of smokes on your way to the theater?"

Jane is a terrible chain smoker and soon she will suffer a premature hypothetical death and no longer be used in my examples.

  • I would eschew gonna here.
    – Lambie
    Feb 10, 2020 at 21:26

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