"going to" vs. "fixing to"

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"Well, you knew Roxanne was fixing to get married," Gladiola begins. Sarah stares at her. "You mean Missy," she says [...] (The New York Times)

If I'm not wrong, in the sentence above I observe that "fixing to" works like the quasimodal "going to", speaking of future intentions.

Question are: Are "fixing to" and "going to" always interchangeable? If not, when can we replace one with each other?

user114

Posted 2013-03-22T22:16:28.787

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I understand it to mean "preparing to". I've used it before, but not often. I've used it informally when talking to friends to show my excitement about something: "I'm back in school! I'm fixing to finish in two years and get my degree!" It is a colloquialism, which English abounds in because it is spoken all over the world. – Nick – 2017-10-29T18:05:38.703

@snail, as a non-native speaker, shall I consider "fixing to" a colloquialism, a new tendency in the language, an American form, or what? Am I safe in using it or would people frown at me if I did? – None – 2013-03-22T22:42:37.567

2I wouldn't use it if I were you. It's definitely not "a new tendency", but it's not accepted as part of Standard English. The most I can really say is that it belongs to dialects I don't speak. I'm not sure exactly what it means, which is why I didn't describe it; my feeling is that it means going to, but dictionaries say preparing to. – snailplane – 2013-03-22T22:46:03.527

2@snailplane I don't use it, but those around me do. In my experience it means "a relatively short time from now, I am going to do [x]". It's interesting that dictionaries define it as "preparing to" though. That's not how I've heard it used, but it makes more sense as to the development of the phrase; "fixing to" could be extrapolated to "I am fixing things up in order to be ready to do [x]". Interesting!! – WendiKidd – 2013-03-23T15:42:05.120

Answers

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In East Alabama, where I came from in the middle of the last century, fixing to was not entirely synonymous with going to: it signified about to, on the verge of and would not be used of long-term plans or expectations. Thus:

 She's going to be a pediatrician when she grows up, AND
 She's fixing to be a pediatrician after she gets her degree,BUT NOT
She's fixing to be a doctor when she grows up.

And in fact the story you reference says that “the church was already reserved [...] and the minister all lined up, and the invitations sent.” Likewise, a little further on, the two-by-fours with which Sean busts up the car and Roxanne busts up Sean come from “a big pile of treated lumber that they got on sale from Wal-Mart” because “they were fixing to build a deck with” them and “Sean's brother was going to help them build the deck”. In both instances plans were pretty well advanced.


marks an utterance as unacceptable

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2013-03-22T22:16:28.787

Reputation: 176 469

+1; exactly. "Fixing to" signifies that you are going to do something a relatively short period of time from now, and so does not have quite the same meaning as "going to". – WendiKidd – 2013-03-23T15:43:41.107

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This term reminds me of what you might find in a 50's or 60's film, especially if set in the US south or midwest.
To me it is folksy, and is similar to planning to or scheming to.

user485

Posted 2013-03-22T22:16:28.787

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Also said by men, eg in song-title I feel like I'm fixin' to die by Country Joe And The Fish.

– James Waldby - jwpat7 – 2013-03-22T23:17:44.347

Here's why I voted down: fixing to is centuries old, but I don't think it's fallen out of favor in the last fifty years; I'm from the Midwest and I've never heard anyone say this phrase in person; and I think the part about women using this phrase more often because we're good at planning and scheming is somewhat bizarre. – snailplane – 2013-03-23T03:13:13.220

OK I was a bit off (and opinionated) on this one. I'll delete it unless there is some objection. – None – 2013-03-23T05:00:52.210

at least I'll edit out the opinion... – None – 2013-03-23T05:09:49.967

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Yes, in this context they are. They mean the same thing. Be fixing to do something to is informal and would be common in spoken day to day conversation.

Noah

Posted 2013-03-22T22:16:28.787

Reputation: 452