There are two future verb forms for prediction and they are formed by using the words, ‘will’ or ‘going to’, and these are required grammar for students who wish to achieve B2 level English.

B2 level English is the equivalent to an upper intermediate standard. These levels of English are determined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF or CEFR), which is an organisation that was put together by the Council of Europe as a way of standardising the levels of language exams in different regions. This scale is widely used internationally, and all important examinations, such as IELTS, Cambridge, Pearson and Aptis, are mapped to the CEFR.

The term ‘future verb forms’ refers to verb tenses, which are structures in the English language that are used to express actions or events that will occur with relation to the future, rather than those formations that are used to express the present tense or the past.

For more on the English tenses, please see the relevant post.

A Crystal Ball


The Cambridge Online Dictionary defines prediction as ‘to say what will happen, or what one thinks will happen in the future’.

Here are some examples of predictions,

  • I think something will happen.
  • I know you will pass your exam.
  • I expect it will rain.

For the above predictions the simple future tense has been used. This form is created by using the base form of a verb with the modal auxiliary ‘will’ (or sometimes the modal auxiliary ‘shall’).


‘Will’ is an aspect of English grammar that is commonly used to express future actions or events. Will is a modal auxiliary verb, which is a type of verb that is used to help or support the meaning of the main verb in a sentence.

The auxiliary verb ‘will’ conveys a sense of willingness, likelihood or intention, and ‘will’ is the auxiliary verb that is present in all four forms of the future tense in English grammar. It is the presence of the auxiliary verb ‘will’ in a statement that lets a reader or listener know that this is not a reference to the present or the past. A statement formed with the modal auxiliary verb ‘will’ is some form of prediction or speculation about the future. Indeed, a question formulated with the word ‘will’ is also speculative:

  • Will you help me with my homework?

Prediction with other future forms

“So surely,” you say, “all four future tenses refer to predicting the future.”

Indeed, there are four future verb forms in English: the future simple, the future continuous, the future perfect and the future perfect continuous, but the future simple tense alone can be used for prediction as one cannot predict what is already occurring or has already occurred.

Indeed, all four forms of the future tense are formed using the modal verb ‘will’ and all can be used to speculate in their respective ways:

The future continuous:

  • I expect it will be raining.

The future perfect:

  • I expect it will have rained.

The future perfect continuous:

  • I expect it will have been raining.

But, notice that the two perfect forms of the future tense refer back to the past and the continuous form of the future refers to what may be currently taking place. In fact, the tenor of these sentences is clearly speculative and not making a prediction about what will happen in the future.

So, paradoxically, only the future simple tense can be used for prediction.

Be going to

However, as the title of this post suggests, there is another manner of forming the simple future tense that can also be used for prediction. This structure is created by using the words ‘going to’ with the verb ‘to be’: ‘I am going to’, ‘she/he/it is going to’, ‘we/you/they are going to’ followed by the base form of the main verb of a sentence.

For example,

  • She is going to travel next week.
  • They are going to pass their exams.
  • It is going to rain.
  • I am going to go home now.

In all four of these examples, the phrase ‘be going to’ can be interchanged with the word ‘will’:

  • She will travel next week.
  • They will pass their exams.
  • It will rain.
  • I will go home now.

However, notice in the final example that the main verb of the sentence is ‘go’, and this verb can co-occur comfortably with ‘be going to’, but is stylistically less pleasing if both forms of ‘go’ are in the continuous and should be avoided:

  • I am going to be going shopping tomorrow.
  • He is going to be going for a run later.

Otherwise, ‘will’ and ‘be going to’ are synonymous and interchangeable when used for prediction.

The evolution of ‘going to’

Notice that to ‘be going to’ is neither a simple tense formation, nor a future tense formation, but possesses the structure of the present continuous tense:

  • I am running.
  • I am sleeping.
  • I am going to…

The structure consists of the verb to be and the inflection -ing in the present tense. To ‘be going to’ is simply a present continuous phrase:

  • I am going to the zoo.

There are various theories of how to ‘be going to’ came to be used interchangeably with ‘will’ for the future simple tense in English. It is thought that it may have been translated directly into English by speakers of other languages who use a direct translation of this form as their primary future tense. Or, arguably, that the verb ‘to go’ may have evolved colloquially from its literal spatial use to its current additional representation as an expression of prediction.

As a result of its continuous structure, the phrase form ‘be going to’ is not exclusively used for prediction but can also be used in its past and future forms:

  • I was going to go out tonight.
  • I will be going to the cinema tomorrow.


For prediction, the present form of the phrase to ‘be going to’ or the future simple form of ‘will’ alone can be used. In fact, whenever ‘will’ is used in the future simple construction, it is making a prediction. Moreover, whenever the present continuous form of to ‘be going to’ is used, it is also engaged in prediction, which is namely, saying what will/is going to happen in the future.

If you have any questions or comments, please do enter them below.

Exercises to practise

Pay close attention to how other words affect the sentence order and your choice of ‘will’ or ‘be going to’.

Will and Be Going To

Using 'Will' and 'Be Going To'

1 / 24

We ____ go to the beach if the weather is nice.

2 / 24

She ____ buy a new car next month.

3 / 24

I think it ____ rain tomorrow.

4 / 24

She ____ go to the doctor if she feels worse.

5 / 24

He ____ probably forget about our meeting.

6 / 24

I ____ take a break after finishing this project.

7 / 24

The company ____ launch a new product next month.

8 / 24

She ____ go shopping this afternoon.

9 / 24

They ____ be going on holiday next summer.

10 / 24

They ____ have a baby in a few months.

11 / 24

____ you help me with my homework, please?

12 / 24

____ they be here on time?

13 / 24

The phone ____ probably not _____ ring while I'm in the shower.

14 / 24

They ____ not attend the event.

15 / 24

He ____ send you an email yesterday.

16 / 24

____ you____ be at the meeting tomorrow?

17 / 24

I promise I ____ help you with your homework.

18 / 24

She ____ probably pass the exam.

19 / 24

My parents ____ retire in a few years.

20 / 24

I ____ cook dinner tonight.

21 / 24

____ you come to the party on Saturday?

22 / 24

The sun ____ set in the west.

23 / 24

We ____ visit our grandparents this weekend.

24 / 24

He ____ call you later.

Your score is

The average score is 84%



Börjars, Kersti, and others. Introducing English Grammar, 2nd edn (Routledge, 2010)

Burton-Roberts, Noel. Analysing Sentences: An Introduction to English Syntax, 4th edn (Routledge, 2016)

Crystal, David. Spell it Out: The Singular Story of English Spelling (Profile Books, 2013)

Crystal, David. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, 3rd edn (Cambridge University Press, 2019)

Hewings, Martin, and others. Cambridge English Grammar and Vocabulary for Advanced (Cambridge University Press, 2015)

Huddleston, Rodney, and others. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Cambridge University Press, 2002)

Parrott, Martin. Grammar for English Language Teachers, 2nd edn (Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Quirk, Randolph, and others. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, reprint edn (Pearson, 2011)

Seely, John. Oxford A – Z of Grammar & Punctuation (Oxford University Press, 2020)

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