Weekly Grammar Question: Will + Going to (making predictions)

A few weeks ago we looked at the difference between will and going to for making plans but what about predictions? How can we express our thoughts about what will happen in the future? Are will and going to the same? Are they completely different? Read on to find out.


The Rules:

So, the rule is pretty simple:

1) We use will for predictions based on our opinions, without any evidence to back it up. e.g. “I think we will have flying cars by the year 2025”. (In this situation, the speaker is expressing their opinion about the future but they really have no concrete facts to support it) 

2) We use going to for predictions backed up by evidence. e.g. “Ooh, look at those dark clouds above, I think it’s going to rain”. (Whereas in this situation, the speaker can see that the clouds above them are quite dark and therefore they think it’s going to rain. The dark clouds are the physical evidence that supports their opinion)

2) We could also use it in the negative. e.g. “Not I don’t think it’s going to rain, those clouds aren’t rain clouds.”


The Reality:

However, this is English and therefore rules are made to be broken and there are exceptions and oddities throughout our wonderful language, especially when it comes to the future. Take football for example. I’m Irish, our football team is awful, absolutely terrible, shockingly bad, and it has been awful for years and years. Spain, on the other hand, have an excellent football team and have won numerous competitions with some of the best players in the world.

So, if Spain and Ireland were playing each other, the logical prediction would be: “Spain is going to win!” We have years of evidence to support out prediction.

But what would I, as an Irishman, say? Would I be logical and say, “Spain are going to win!” or could I say “Ireland are going to win!!!!”? I think I would say the second one. I have absolutely no evidence to support this prediction but I do have my national pride, my hope and a strong feeling that despite all evidence, this time, Ireland are going to win. Everyone would understand how I feel and how strongly I feel about this.

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