One of the most difficult things to teach in English grammar is the difference between ‘going to’ future and ‘will’ future. It is mainly difficult because as native speakers we understand that there really isn’t that much of a difference. Turkish students hate this and no matter how many times they review the differences, they still always want to say ‘will’ and never say ‘going to’.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll give you a basic rundown.
We use ‘going to’ when we’re talking about:
1. Plans – I’m going to visit my grandmother tomorrow.
2. Prediction from evidence – It is going to rain.
We use ‘will’ when we’re talking about:
1. Promises – I will always love you.
2. Sudden Decisions – Oh, it’s raining. I’ll take an umbrella.
3. Offers – I will help you.
4. Requests – Will you help me?
5. Opinions – I think you will like this book.
In my opinion, predictions and opinions are completely interchangeable, so we are left with plans as the only time when people need to use ‘going to’. I asked one of our Turkish friends today why Turkish people refuse to use ‘going to’ and always use ‘will’. “Because Turkish people never make plans,” he said. What a profound statement.
Turkish people don’t make plans. In everything they do they say the equivalent of God willing. Even if they have every intention on following through with something, they still don’t like to make plans.
So when I ask a student, “What are you going to do tonight?” They tend to respond with. “Maybe I will watch TV.”
So then I have to teach them “Maybe I will…” is better said as “I may/might…”, but that’s another story.