The real Dilemma about these two very similar terms, 'will' and' going to' is that they usually mean the same thing, but there is a slight difference that is hard to tell. Usually, when a person says 'I will', or 'I'm going to', it means exactly that, it means that they are going to do something. Both of these terms are used verbally or in conversation when making decisions.
It is quite clear that most people use the terms 'will' or 'going to' as per their whims and fancies and often tend to make mistakes when using these words. For example, when a person says, 'I am going to do the dishes for you' they have made their point, but a better way to say it would be 'I will do the dishes for you!'.
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, the term 'will' is used when describing something with a degree of certainty. According to the same Dictionary, 'Going to' or 'Be going to' is generally used when we want to emphasize our current decision in the present.
Will vs Going To
Sometimes the word 'Will' can have a different connotation. While the phrase 'going to' often relates to the physical action of doing something or going somewhere, the word will is mostly a question of will, about making up one's mind, as some say. When put like that, the word 'will' is a very common way of describing what you are planning to do and other related thought processes related to making up your mind to do it. Often it is influenced by one's own volition, the feeling of rightness, and desire.
On the other hand, the phrase 'Going to' comes from a verb (to go) and sometimes refers to going to a place physically too, but we are not referring to that in this context. However, if both of these words have anything in common, it's the fact that they both involve making a decision, and they both occur in the near or immediate future. Usually, when one is confident about a decision, they use the word will. The term 'will' is used when an individual talks about a future happening, especially one he has planned.
Also, when one is bragging about a decision they have made, they will say things like 'I will climb Mt. Everest!' because they have made up their mind. You will probably not hear them say "I am going to climb Mt. Everest!' because this reflects some kind of uncertainty.
The words' Will' and 'going to' are very interchangeable, and both words can be used in sentences without much change in the meaning! However, both the terms do differ only a little, which we will see later on. It's easy to understand if one gets confused. Choosing Will over Going to express the future tense is, in fact, quite a confusing yet common concept.
Although both terms are usually used interchangeably, this is only because English is the sort of language that allows you to express yourself in several ways. Choosing which term to use and when depends purely on the context. The following excerpt shows the confusion involved when it comes to WILL vs GOING TO!
Planning a Party
(two neighbors talking)
John: Hey, what a great day it is. It seems that it will continue to rain.
Mark: Maybe yes. Perhaps it will become sunny after some time like yesterday.
John: You may be right. I am going to throw a birthday party for my son. Will you come?
Mark: Yes, definitely. Who else will be going to the party?
John: I have invited few people. Jane is going to do all the cooking. And I am planning to hire a clown.
Mark: A clown! That will be a great idea for the kids.
John: As a child, I always wanted a clown in my birthday party. Now, I'm GOING TO fulfil this wish at my son's birthday.
Mark: I'm sure everyone WILL have a good laugh.
John: Let us hope for the best!
In the above conversation, we can observe that the words 'WILL' and 'GOING TO' are used frequently even in conversations! Even though there are not many notable differences between both words, Consider analyzing the notable differences in tabular form.
Difference Between Will and Going To in Tabular Form
|Parameter of Comparison||Will||Going to|
|Common Usage||When using the word ‘Will’ It usually refers to the decision made at the moment of speaking. For E.g., I will cook potatoes today. (rapid decision)||‘Going to’ on the other hand refers to a earlier made decision For E.g., I am going to the mall tomorrow.|
|Predictions||The word will is used whenever a prediction is made based on a personal belief. For E.g.,I think they will lose the match.||The phrase 'going to' is used when the prediction is made based on some kind of evidence.For E.g., Lionel Messi is going to win the match today.|
|Future Facts||The word ‘will’ may provide facts ahead of time. For E.g., His secretary will come tomorrow.||‘Going to’ indicates something that will happen in the immediate future. For E.g., Priya is going to call now.|
|Other Tenses||The word ‘Will’ can only be used in Future tense||The phrase ‘Going to’ can be used in Past tense too as well as future tense.|
|‘be’ Verbs||'Be’ verbs are not required while using the word ‘Will’ as it is used after the subject. For E.g., She will buy a shampoo.||Usually a ‘be’ verb is used before ‘Going to’. The be verb is what determines the tense of a sentence. For E.g., She ‘is’ going to buy a shampoo.|
What is 'will'?
Much like the pun suggests, the word 'will', usually is a battle of the will. Lots of emotions come to the forefront when making a decision, and it is only then, after making up their mind, that we hear a person say 'I will' do something.
The word will is so flexible it can be used :
- To make offers: For example, 'I will help you with your luggage'
- To make promises: I will keep my promise."
- To express dreams: "Someday I will learn another language"
- To express actions: "Will you buy me a dress, Aunty?
- It can also be used in a negative sense, For example, 'I will break your nose if you hurt him.'
(The above list is taken from the website gonaturalenglish.com)
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, the term 'will' is usually almost always used when any person is 'talking about something that will happen in the future, especially things they are certain about or things they have planned.
To better understand the usage of the word 'will' in a sentence, consider the following everyday examples of its use: 'Louella will be six years old next month' and 'The photos will be ready for collection on Wednesday Afternoon.'
A few similar examples or synonyms for the word 'will' are- 'heart's desire', 'decree', and liking' etc. On the other hand, a few antonyms for the word 'will' are- reluctance, scruples, and resistance.
What is Going to?
In the previous paragraphs, there was some reference to making decisions, but remember that behind every decision ever made are thoughts like 'I'm going to try'. Like the word 'will', 'going to' also refers to the thought/intent to do something in the future.
The phrase 'going to' has lots of uses: Consider the following sentences
- when the phrase going to is used to make definite plans: 'I'm going to help you with your english'
- When the phrase going to is used to perform immediate actions: 'He's going to eat my lunch with a friend tommorow'
- When the phrase going to is used to perform actions that will happen soon: 'He's going to be a Doctor, next year'
- When the phrase going to is used to express a degree of anticipation: 'Are you going to download our free E-book?'
- When the phrase going to is used to predict a future action:The weather is going to be very cold today'
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, the term 'going to' or 'be going to' is used when one is 'intending to do something in the future, or being certain or expecting to happen in the future' Going to is also sometimes used as an 'auxiliary verb'. You might not be aware, but an Auxiliary verb usually denotes intentions, future events, and plans. It also includes making predictions based on evidence of some sort.
The expression 'be going to', followed by a verb in the infinitive, allows us to express an idea in the near future. For example, consider the following sentences: I'm going to talk to her. Very soon, I will talk to her. As seen in the above sentences, much like the word 'will', the phrase 'going to' is used to describe what could happen or what will happen in the future, and often it refers to a future event. A few everyday examples of the usage of the term 'going to' in a sentence are: 'Robin is going to listen to some jazz music tonight' and 'I am going to watch TV tonight' Consider also: 'It's going to rain' While some synonyms for going to are- 'about to', intending to', 'almost', 'ready to', 'and all set to', a couple of antonyms for going to are- culminate, conclude, and complete.
Difference Between Will and Going To in Points
- The term 'will' can either be a verb or a noun, whereas the term 'going to' is a present continuous form of the verb go + the preposition to.
- 'Going to' does not show any tense but is a structure that can denote the sentence in a future tense. It is also used to express events you have already planned in the future, and your intentions for the future. On the other hand, the word 'will' refers to something you have just decided to do for predictions and promises.
- The expression going to is generally used in the informal way, while the verb will is used to express the same meaning formally.
- Going to is often used as a present continuous expression. On the other hand, the verb will is normally used in the future tense.
- The term 'will' usually depends on one's volition, whereas the term 'going to' is more often related to physical action.
- A few synonyms for 'will' are 'heart's desire', 'decree', and liking' etc., and a few synonyms for 'going to' are 'about to', intending to', 'almost', 'ready to', 'and all set to'
- A few antonyms for 'will' are reluctance, scruples, and resistance whereas a few antonyms for 'going to' are culminate, conclude, and complete.
- An example of a sentence in which the word 'will' is used is : 'The economy will get better soon'. On the other hand, an example of a sentence in which the word 'going to' is used is: 'I'm going to attend the meeting'.
- When you want to ask/request for something, use WILL. When you're expecting or anticipating something to happen, use GOING TO.
After watching a person battle it out to make up his mind to make a decision, he finally says, 'I will (do something)'. If there is anything we can understand from overhearing another person say that he has the will to do something, or is going to do something, it quite simply means, that it is a decision they MIGHT make in the future. (future tense)
What we have to remember is to use our discernment (and the above-given guidelines if you like) to try and use either of the words appropriately. Both words must be used correctly to articulate a future action and to make a line or sentence that is both on point and makes sense as well!
What is to be noted about both these terms is that they allow the speaker/writer to use both terms interchangeably so long as they are used in the right context.