U4 Going to Vs. Present continuous

“Be Going to” or Present continuous??


  • We use (be) going to:
     - To talk about plans and intentions:
I’m going to drive to work today.
They are going to move to Manchester.
     - When we can see that something is likely to happen:
Be careful! You are going to fall.
Look at those black clouds. I think it’s going to rain.

  • We can use the present continuous for plans or arrangements:
I’m playing football tomorrow.
They are coming to see us tomorrow.
We’re having a party at Christmas.

Which of these is the grammatically correct form:
  1. Where are you going to apply?
  2. Where are you applying?

Both of them are correct.
We can use either one of them to ask a question about the future.
Some grammars call #1 the "going to" future, and suggest that we use it when talking about something that has been planned or arranged (we have taken some step to make something happen).
They may call #2 the present continuous and say that we use this tense to talk about the future when we have only an intention to do something (but we have not taken any steps to arrange the future action).
In reality, they are both examples of the present continuous, and the factors that describe when we use them are subtle and complex. Short and simple explanations don't work very well here.

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