I admit that talking about the future is one of the most confusing aspects of English. We don't just think about when we're going to do something, we also take into account how we consider it.
In Spanish there's not much difference between lo haré mañana and lo voy a hacer mañana. In English, however, we receive unspoken information according to what people say. I'll do it tomorrow, for example, tells us that the decision to do it has just been made. I'm going to do it tomorrow tells us that the decision was made earlier and that it is now an intention.
This may sound confusing, but in fact it's very precise. Just a little difficult at first...
Structure: will do something
Will is used to talk about a future fact:
Will can be used to make a prediction:
Will is also used to express an intention or decision made at the moment of speaking. Immediately after this decision, going to is probably the most appropriate form to use:
Structure: going to do something
Going to is used to talk about a future intention when a decision has already been made:
When we use 'going to go', we often omit 'to go' and just say 'going'.
Going to is also used to talk about future predictions when there is evidence that something is going to happen:
The present simple is used to talk about future timetables, itineraries and so on.
Spanish people are not generally happy using this because it sounds strange to them. However, English people use it all the time to refer to the future.
It's used to talk about future arrangements (a word which doesn't have an exact translation in Spanish). An arrangement is similar to an intention, but involves more preparation or organisation. In other words you have to phone someone, or put it in your diary, or promise yourself something.
Structure: will be doing something
The future continuous is used to talk about an activity that will be in progress before and after a particular time:
It is also used to refer to a future event that will happen in the normal course of things, in other words it doesn't have anything to do with intentions, time of decision, type of plan etc. This event will occur as time passes. Imagine how you use the present continuous to talk about what's happening now (I'm using my computer, etc). Now think about the future, and that's how we use the future continuous (I'll still be using my computer in half an hour).
Structure: will have done something/will have been doing something
The future perfect is used to talk about an action that will be completed before a specific time in the future.
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