Future with present continuous
We can use the present continuous to talk about future plans. When we use the present continuous, it specifically means that the plan has already been made, and other people are participating. We know the time and place, and have already organised things. Usually, when we use the present continuous in this way, we need to add a time expression:
• I'm having lunch with my mum in an hour.
• We're playing football on Saturday. Do you want to join us?
• John isn't working tonight. Shall we see what he wants to do?
• You're running a race next weekend, aren't you?
• They're meeting us at six o'clock.
We also use the present continuous in question form, to ask about other people's plans for the future:
• What are you doing tonight?
• Are you doing anything on Saturday?
Future with 'going to'
We use 'going to' to discuss future plans. When we use 'going to', we have already thought about the plan before we speak:
• I'm going to watch a film after work.
• Tomorrow is a public holiday, so we're going to stay home all day.
• They're going to get married next year.
• I'm not going to cook tonight. I'm too tired.
We can also use 'going to' for predictions. In this case, the predictions must be likely to happen, and based on evidence:
• There are so many clouds. It's going to rain.
• Wow, John has scored another goal! Our team is going to win!
• Be careful, the floor is wet. You're going to fall.
• I've eaten so much food. I'm going to be sick.
• What a mess in the kitchen! Mum isn't going to be happy when she sees it.
Future with present simple
We use the present simple when we talk about something in the future with a fixed time or schedule. We often use it when we are talking about transport or events that already have a definite start time.
We should run! Our train leaves in ten minutes!
The football match starts at 8:45 pm.
What time does the concert begin?
The school term finishes on Friday.
It is most common to use the present simple in this way in the third person. However, we can use it in the first or second person when we are talking about something with a specific schedule:
I fly to Rome on Saturday morning.
When do you start your new job?
Future with present tenses and 'going to': be careful
The future forms can be very confusing. Here are some important rules to remember:
1) WILL vs GOING TO: Predictions:
We use "will" for a prediction without any evidence, and "going to" for a prediction with evidence:
I don't care that the other team has scored 7 goals. I still think our team will win!
The other team has scored 7 goals. They're definitely going to win.
My horoscope said that I will get a lucky phone call today.
My boss said that I'm going to get a phone call from another company.
2) WILL vs GOING TO vs PRESENT CONTINUOUS: Plans:
We use 'will' for spontaneous plans, made at the moment of speaking. We use 'going to' for plans already made before the moment of speaking. We use the present continuous for plans which also involve other people, and which have already been organised:
I'm not feeling well. I think I'll go to the doctor.
I'm going to the doctor after work tomorrow.
I've made an appointment. I'm seeing the doctor at 6:30.