A question regarding will/be going to Advanced Grammar in Use



I've been going over Advanced Grammar in Use and came across Unit 9 Rule E I'll cite a part of it:

However, we use "will", not "be going to", when the main clause refers to offers, requests, promises, ability, etc.:

There are two examples the first of which I'll omit.

If you look to your left, you will see the lake.

= you will be able to see, you are going to see suggests: "I know this is what you can see when you look to your left"

The question is not about the rule itself but rather about the explanation about the difference between the usage of will/be going to here. I don't quite understand what they mean by saying "I know this is what you see.." Is it just about letting them know that you have already seen that or what?

I would like to ask to clarify this "be going to usage" and tell me a real life situation where this might be useful, in other words another example, thanks!


Posted 2017-06-28T19:22:24.943

Reputation: 301

I don't think your "rule" is accurate, for example as a promise: "I will get you your money by tomorrow" and "I am going to get you your money by tomorrow" are both fine. Similarly "Will you get us coffee on your way home?" and "Are you going to get us coffee on your way home?" are both grammatical, although the first is more a request and the second more an expectation. – Andrew – 2017-06-28T19:48:58.063

2It's very important to understand that most of what you will read in Hewings's Advanced Grammar in Use and similar reference and practice books, such as Swan's, are not rules. A rule is, for example, "The verb must agree in number with its subject: write He walks, not He walk." Hewings's book and the others aren't rule books; they are compilations of usages with examples and explanations designed to help you learn to speak, write, and understand English. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2017-06-28T20:04:56.370

Well, they contain a lot of rules just it's the advanced level so they mostly explain the shades of meaning and sometimes there are rules that you must follow. But in broad terms I understand what you are trying to say and yes I understand it , thanks! And it's not "my" rule , I told where it is from :) – Dmitrii – 2017-06-28T21:00:07.610

As for: "I will get you your money by tomorrow" I think suggests that you will certainly give this money back, you promise it. But in "be going to" it is your intention and it is more about "maybe". The rule doesn't tell you that it is prohibited to use "be going to" it says that IF you promise/offer/etc you have to use will. – Dmitrii – 2017-06-28T21:11:13.117

@Dmitri Both "I will get you the money" and "I'm going to get you the money" mean much the same thing. Your interpretation depends far more on whether you trust me, and not which expression I use. Both can be interpreted as a "promise" -- if you believe that I keep my promises. – Andrew – 2017-06-28T21:24:54.530



If you look to your left, you will see a hippopotamus.

If you look to your left, you are going to see a hippopotamus.

The speaker knows about the hippopotamus in either case, and so to express the difference between the two in terms of the speaker's knowledge is confusing and not very illuminating. We might express the difference in terms of the speaker's foreknowledge.

will refers to a predicted outcome.

are going to refers to a predicted eventual outcome.

If you eat this poison mushroom, you will regret it.

If you eat this poison mushroom, you are going to regret it.


If you look to your left, you will see a hippopotamus.

If you look to your left, you are going to see a hippopotamus. It will be visible momentarily.


Posted 2017-06-28T19:22:24.943

Reputation: 116 610

Hm, that's interesting , I would like to know the meaning of your "eventual" term. What is "eventual outcome" compared to "regular outcome"? I don't understand this "foreknowledge thing" , in both cases we know that they will be there when we look to the left.What does"It will be visible momentarily" have to do with that? – Dmitrii – 2017-06-28T21:07:15.827

1@Dmitrii Momentarily (as we use it in American English) means in a moment. Tᴚoɯɐuo is saying that the speaker knows this, and that by saying "you are going to see a hippopotamus", the speaker communicates that the hippo will appear a moment after you look to your left. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2017-06-28T21:15:25.377

And if you say "you will see a hippopotamus" what will it mean? Just stating the fact that there is one? And how could they be compared from this "time" perspective? – Dmitrii – 2017-06-28T21:42:31.190

will is silent with respect to the eventuality or immediacy of the prediction. It can go either way. It is mere prediction. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2017-06-28T21:46:48.260

1@Tᴚoɯɐuo Thing is, Hewings doesn't really treat this distinction in this section of AGIU (or anywhere afaict) so the OP is winging it here. The word foreknowledge appears nowhere in the book. :( – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2017-06-28T22:01:11.800

@P. E. Dant. The word foreknowledge was my word. I'm not ascribing it to the author. Not sure what you are referring to by "thing is". – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2017-06-29T10:25:45.530

@Tᴚoɯɐuo so clarify this pls, what you mean by "foreknowledge" compared to "knowledge"?and what is the difference between "outcome" and "eventual outcome"? – Dmitrii – 2017-06-29T11:19:54.047

@Dmitrii: what don't you understand about foreknowledge? Have you looked it up in a dictionary? – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2017-06-29T11:21:06.470

@Tᴚoɯɐuo I have a near native vocabulary size, don't need to look it up. The question is:If its not possible to explain it in terms of knowledge if in both cases the speaker knows that there is a hippopotamus how it is possible to explain it in terms of foreknowledge.And what it the difference between "eventual outcome" and "outcome"? – Dmitrii – 2017-06-29T11:25:21.303

@Dmitrii: Let's let you meditate a while on what it means to refer to an outcome as an eventual outcome. Eventually you may understand what the presence of the adjective adds to the meaning. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2017-06-29T11:33:09.323

@Tᴚoɯɐuo Thx for the opportunity, I have loads of things to meditate on and what I want to get answers to I post here. I repeat both of my questions I asked in the latter post and would be grateful to see some answers instead of this blather. – Dmitrii – 2017-06-29T11:42:21.960

Let us continue this discussion in chat.

– Dmitrii – 2017-06-29T11:59:03.963

@Tᴚoɯɐuo I can see that foreknowledge was introduced here by your answer. My thing is was by way of pointing out that your answer is probably the OP's first exposure to the notion of foreknowledge as an aspect of going to phrases. If he's relying on Hewings, it's all new to him. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2017-06-29T13:58:57.530

@Dmitrii You may imagine that you have a "near-native" vocabulary (whatever that may mean) but your writing is very obviously that of a non-native. There's no "blather" here: even to a "near native", that is insulting. Rather than ascribe your inability to understand Tᴚoɯɐuo's thoughtful and insightful answer and helpful comments to him, consider adding this word to that "near native" vocabulary of yours: introspection. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2017-06-29T14:13:46.307

@Tᴚoɯɐuo eventual - final, outcome - result, "eventual outcome" - final result. So we compare "final result" and "result" which in terms of the given examples makes no sense to me. What is "final result" in your examples of seeing a hippopotamus and what "result" is? – Dmitrii – 2017-06-29T17:07:30.297

@P.E.Dant I don't consider this explanation to be "thoughtful" and "insightful". What I do consider to be helpful is: a. Explaining what this "foreknowledge" term means, as you already mentioned rather than telling me obvious stuff " look it up". Those sort of answers could be given by anybody and eventually give nothing.If I keep asking this question isn't it obvious that I've already looked it up and didn't find the explanation.b. Saying what the actual difference between "eventual outcome" and "outcome" is based on the given examples. – Dmitrii – 2017-06-29T17:14:02.487

@Tᴚoɯɐuo I didn't mean to offend you man, sorry. I could explain why I said that, but I don't think that both of us are interested in that. I wish I hadn't said that. – Dmitrii – 2017-06-29T17:19:46.247

1@Dmitrii: These two questions are conceptually related: *What is the difference between outcome and eventual outcome, and between knowledge and foreknowledge.* However, these questions are not about English per se but about epistemology. What I would like you do is to is to visit a couple of good dictionaries (not learners dictionaries), consult the definitions of those two words, and then tell me what it is about the definitions that fails to clarify the issue for you. At that point I would be happy to append a P.S. to my answer where I will try to address the issue. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2017-06-29T18:00:32.217

@Tᴚoɯɐuo I do wish you had chosen an animal less evocative of humorous mental images than the hippopotamus. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2017-06-29T18:21:45.950

@P. E. Dant. These aren't your Disney hippos in tutus. We're on safari. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2017-06-29T19:40:56.917

@Tᴚoɯɐuo Good luck erasing that visual memory in any member of my generation. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2017-06-29T20:42:07.327