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Question will VS be going to

hirashin

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Dear native English speakers,
I'm not really sure in which case "will" or " be going to" should be used.

Which one sounds natural in each case?
1 (a) I’m going to tell my mother that I broke her phone.
(b) I'll tell my mother that I broke her phone.

2 (a) I don’t like this job. I’m going to quit.
(b) I don’t like this job. I’ll quit.

3 (a) I don’t feel good. I think I’m going to be sick.
(b) I don’t feel good. I think I’ll be sick.

4 (a) He doesn’t study at all. He is going to fail the test.
(b) He doesn’t study at all. He'll fail the test.

5 (a) I'm glad he's going to come to my house tomorrow.
(b) I'm glad he'll come to my house tomorrow.

6 (a) Maybe Tom is going to help us.
(b) Maybe Tom will help us.

7 (a) Probably Tom is going to help us.
(b) Probably Tom will help us.

8 (a) Someone is at the door. I'm going to call you back later.
(b) Someone is at the door. I'll call you back later.

9 (a) I'm worried I'm going to get lost tomorrow.
(b) I'm worried I'll get lost tomorrow.
 

Michael2

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As a basic rule, will is used for decisions made at the moment of speaking and for predictions. However the problem with isolating "will" sentences with no context means you could easily imagine a context where they would be possible, or imagine them being used with "if", where an If.... will.... construction is the norm.

I would say 8a is wrong as that is a decision clearly made at the moment of speaking and not preplanned
 

hirashin

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Thank you all.

1 & 2 are from this site:
【アメリカ人が解説】未来を表すwillとbe going to, be doingの違い
This site seems that an American woman runs. She says that you can't say
1b) I’ll tell my mother that I broke her phone.
2b) I don’t like this job. I’ll quit.

And 5 is from this YouTube video:

The teacher says 5(b) is no good. (around 3:33)
5 (a) I'm glad he's going to come to my house tomorrow.
(b) I'm glad he'll come to my house tomorrow.

I would say 8a is wrong as that is a decision clearly made at the moment of speaking and not preplanned

To tell you the truth, I thought other native speakers would also say it was wrong.
I was a little surprised by mdchachi and johnnyG's responses.
 

mdchachi

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To me, this whole discussion is splitting hairs. I'm not saying those sites are wrong but they are over-thinking about it.
Yes 8b is more natural than 8a but it means the same thing and if somebody said it to me, I would not think it was odd.
And as Michael2 said, it all depends on context. So when you have one sentence in isolation, it's easy to imagine a context that fits.
 

hirashin

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Thanks for your opinion, mdchachi. So you think English learners should not care about those subtle differences?
 

lamb_of_tyler

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In my opinion, "am going to X" sounds more intentional than "will X". Like "will X" is more happenstance -- just something that will eventually take place regardless of intention or purpose. "am going to X" comes across as more of a declaration that, given the current situation Y, X is the decided action / best way to address Y.

I think it's because "go" is an active verb, so represents an active intention to do something about the situation.
 

lamb_of_tyler

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Maybe you can think of it as being similar to Xに行く form, for example 買い物に行く, where "go" or "going to" represents the intention to go do "X".
 

mdchachi

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Thanks for your opinion, mdchachi. So you think English learners should not care about those subtle differences?
In this case, I think it is not important for English learners to learn. You can teach it but I would not test it. It's a subtle distinction that doesn't affect meaning much.
 

hirashin

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Thanks for the help, lamb_of_tyler.
In this case, I think it is not important for English learners to learn. You can teach it but I would not test it. It's a subtle distinction that doesn't affect meaning much.
I see. Thanks. I'll avoid testing it.
 

nahadef

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The usage is generally different. Both are correct under certain circumstances. Michael2 pretty much got it that will is for predictions. My Cambridge text differentiates will by pairing it with probably/I think/I guess. The second usage of will is for unplanned decisions.

Here is something I never show here: an illustration I made to show students the difference in an easy reference. I got a ton of these, but this is the sort of thing I made while being paid, not what I usually show off.
going.png
 

mdchachi

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The usage is generally different. Both are correct under certain circumstances. Michael2 pretty much got it that will is for predictions. My Cambridge text differentiates will by pairing it with probably/I think/I guess. The second usage of will is for unplanned decisions.

Here is something I never show here: an illustration I made to show students the difference in an easy reference. I got a ton of these, but this is the sort of thing I made while being paid, not what I usually show off.
View attachment 33631
Even if you reversed the speaking bubbles, it does not sound "wrong" to me. Slightly less natural I agree. The meaning doesn't change fundamentally in my opinion. Either way they'll be eating pasta soon. :)
 

nahadef

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The future progressive is a different, more vague pattern. I don't enjoy trying to succinctly communicate it.

It's not exactly wrong if you switch the balloons there, but... it would be wrong to say they have the same usage, and when teaching ESL speakers, they need to have some guidelines. If I were to go into class and say they're different but it doesn't really matter, the student wouldn't be very illuminated. Usually I tell them this is the best usage, but there can be overlap, and nobody is likely to misunderstand what you mean if you mix them up. Good teaching practice is to differentiate between mistakes that are a grammatical faux pas and mistakes that obscure meaning. (A student today submitted this plan: He's going to go to the Arc de Triumphe, and then he will probably go to Paris. I let him know he had to check the meaning of will probably again.)

I do think it would sound pretty weird to hold up your lunch and say "I'll have pasta," in 99/100 cases though; the case where you say "I'm going to have..." at a restaurant implies you've made up your mind before telling people, which people do actually do with menus. But for the sake of a classroom setting, this communicates the concept quite clearly, I think. If the student can get that "be going to" generally refers to a plan/situation before the conversation takes place, and will refers to something decided during the conversation, it did the job.
 

Buntaro

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Here are two more confusing examples.

1a. I don’t like this job. I’ll quit.
1b. I don’t like this job. I’m going to quit.

2a. If I don’t like this job. I’ll quit.
2b. If I don’t like this job. I’m going to quit.

1b is more common than 1a.

2a is more common than 2b.
 
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