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"I will..." or "I am going to..." for German Speakers

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

A common problem that many German speakers have with English is with knowing when it is better to use "I will..." or "I am going to..."to talk about future plans.

Use this simple guideline to understand when to use each one:

  • Use the Future Simple if the plan is made spontaneously, meaning in or during the conversation - “the train is cancelled, fine we will take a taxi” or there is an element of promise to the plan "I will send you the document tomorrow".

  • Use the Present Continuous for plans that you knew about before the conversation -"I am going to the cinema on Friday" or "we are meeting next Tuesday".

The Present Continuous can also be formed with going to, hoping to, or planning to - I'm planning to visit family on the weekend or I'm hoping to be at the meeting on Tuesday.


Excercise: Look at the scenarios. Translate the response, which has been written in German, into the right tense. Think about whether you are referring to a plan made before, or in the conversation.

1) You are asked about your plans for the weekend and answer: "Ich gehe am Wochenende ins Kino ".

2) A client rings you up to ask you to send them some information, you respond: "Ja, ich werde es sofort tun".

3) You are asked at the end of a meeting whether you plan to go back to the office, you respond: "Ja, ich gehe wieder ins Büro".

4) You are asked what time you plan to work until today, you respond: "Ich arbeite bis etwa 18 Uhr".

5) You wanted to travel to a meeting by train, but have just been told that the trains are on strike, you respond immediately: "In diesem Fall werde ich mit dem Taxi fahren".

6) Your manager rings you on your lunch break and asks you to send him a copy of a document that he had lost, you answer: "Kein Problem, ich werde es Ihnen in einer Stunde schicken".

7) You are asked at 16:45 to stay later in the office, but you can't because you have a dentist appointment immediately after work, you respond: "Tut mir leid, aber ich gehe gleich zum Zahnarzt".

8) You need to explain to the participants in a meeting what you are about to present to them, you say: "Ich zeige Ihnen gleich die Verkaufszahlen".

9) A colleague asks you to remind them when you had planned to meet each other next, you respond: "Wir sehen uns nächste Woche".

10) During a meeting there is a request for someone to show a new colleague around the building, you offer: "Ich mache es".

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