Expressing future plans and arrangements Present and future forms The present continuous is the most common way to talk about personal arrangements, i.e. fixed plans for the future, when the time and place have been decided. I’m seeing Thomas tomorrow. We’re having lunch together. be going to is the most common way to express future plans and intentions, and to imply that a decision has been made. I’m going to give up smoking tomorrow. He’s going to get the last coach home.
Expressing future plans and arrangements Present and future forms In most cases you can use either going to or the present continuous, but there is a subtle change of emphasis. The present continuous emphasizes that a time and place to do something has been decided; going to emphasizes the intention. I’m meeting Sue this evening. I’m going to tell her that we are done. Compare: I’m meeting Sue. (= We’ve arranged to meet.) I’m going to meet Sue. (= It’s my intention, but arrangements may or may not have been made.) We do not use the present continuous when it is clear that something is just an intention, not something that has been arranged. NOT I’m telling her that we are done.
Expressing future plans and arrangements Present and future forms The future continuous can often be used instead of the present continuous to refer to future arrangements. We sometimes use it to emphasize that we are talking about something that will happen anyway rather than something we have arranged. Compare: I’m seeing Susan tomorrow. (= I have arranged it.) I’ll be seeing Susan at the party tomorrow. (= It will happen anyway, but I didn’t arrange it.) I’ll be going to the mall later – do you want anything? It is often used to make polite enquiries about arrangements, e.g. Will you be meeting us at the station? Will we be having supper at the usual time? I’m going to see a play and it starts at 8.30.
Expressing future plans and arrangements
Present and future forms We can also use the present simple to talk about future events which are part of a timetable or a regular schedule. The plane leaves in five minutes. Our lessons start next Tuesday.
Expressing future plans and arrangements Other ways of expressing future arrangements be due to + infinitive can be used to say that something is arranged or expected. My aunt is due to arrive at 7.30. Can you meet her at the airport? We also use due on its own to mean â€˜expectedâ€™, e.g. The next coach is due in five minutes. We use be about to + infinitive to say that something is going to happen very soon. My niece is about to have a baby, so I need to keep my mobile switched on. We can also use be on the point of + gerund with a similar meaning, but this is slightly more formal and implies something is more imminent. We can use be + to + infinitive in a formal style to talk about official plans and arrangements. It has been announced that the Prime Minister is to visit Brussels next month.
A presentation for B2 ESL learners about different ways of expressing the future.