Difference between Will and Going To

Updated on June 1, 2017

Can you point out the difference between the two sentences below?

“I will call you later.”

“I am going to call you later.”

You are probably going to say that the only difference is that the first sentence used “will” and that the second sentence used “going to.” The two are often loosely interchanged, but believe it or not, they do have a slight difference. In this article, we will discuss why “will” and “going to” are not exactly the same.

Descriptions

Will

The word will is used in sentences that express:

  1. Instantaneous decisions; for example: My mouth is so dry. I will go get some water.
  2. Forecasts based on your opinion, especially when words such as “perhaps,” “probably,” “think,” “wonder,” or “believe” are used; for example: I think Jenna Fey will bag the grand prize.
  3. Predictions or forecasts or in the remote future; for example: Don’t worry, pal. This will be over soon.
  4. Future facts or real events; for example: The class will resume tomorrow.
  5. Promises; for example: I will return your book on Wednesday.
  6. Requests; for example: Will you print these documents?
  7. Offers or invitations; for example: Will you come to my graduation party next week?
  8. Refusal; for example: I repeatedly asked Johnny to do the laundry but he just will not do it!
  9. Threats; for example: Sleep early or you will be late!
  10. A question that comes after an imperative statement; for example: Call me, will you?

going to

On the other hand, the phrase going to is used when talking about:

  1. A future event or action that has been decided or planned; for example: I am going to spend my summer vacation in Greece.
  2. Forecasts based on evidence; for example: Bruno got the most number of votes. He is going to win this contest.
  3. An event that is about to happen; for example: He’s going to cry now!

Will vs Going To

What, then, is the difference between “will” and “going to”?

“Will” can be used in many ways. It can be used to express a rapid decision, prediction, request, invitation, offer, threat, refusal, or a promise. It can also be used in tag questions that come after an imperative statement. On the contrary, “going to” is used in statements that express a planned future event or action, a forecast based on evidence, or an event that is about to happen.

Comparison Chart

WillGoing To
Used to express a rapid decision, prediction based on opinion, request, invitation, offer, threat, refusal, or a promise; also used in tag questions that come after an imperative statementUsed in statements that express a planned future event or action, a forecast based on evidence, or an event that is about to happen.