English grammar help: using ‘ing’ for future plans

English grammar help: using ‘ing’ for future plans

In English, we have lots of ways of talking about the future. In fact, it can be a little confusing knowing which to use sometimes.

The most common ways of talking about the future we encounter use ‘will’ or ‘be going to’ followed by an infinitive, and we tend to use ‘be going to’ most often for talking about future plans.

You might have heard people talking about future plans in another way however. Let’s look at an example:

Q: “What are you doing this weekend?”

A: “I’m meeting my sister.”

So, what do we call this tense form? That’s right ­ it’s the present continuous, but in this case we are using it to talk about future plans.

What’s the difference between using ‘be going to’ and the present continuous to talk about future plans? Let’s look at some more examples:

“I’m going to play football on Saturday”

You have made a plan in your head but possibly not taken any real action to confirm it. Also, playing football on Saturday is probably not a regular event for you.

“I’m playing football on Saturday”

You have made a plan and taken some real action to confirm it (e.g. called your friends or booked a place to play). In this case, it’s likely that playing football on Saturdays is a common activity for you.

If you can use the present continuous to talk about future plans, how do you avoid getting confused between the future and the present?

It’s all about context. When we use the present continuous to talk about the future, we often use words to show when something is happening (e.g. tomorrow / next Friday / at the weekend). The context might also be in the question we are answering:

“What are you doing this weekend?”

“I’m washing the car.”

In this case, we don’t need to repeat ‘this weekend’ because it’s already obvious from the question we are answering.So, what are you doing this weekend? Use the comments section to answer, and remember to only talk about events that you have to taken some action to make happen or that you do regularly at the weekend.

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