Author Topic: "Be going to" for intentions or plans  (Read 213 times)

Offline Natalia

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"Be going to" for intentions or plans
« on: June 26, 2018, 01:05:32 PM »
In English grammar books, it is often written that we use "be going to" to talk about our intentions or plans. But how to explain to my students the difference between "intention" and "plan"?

Personally, I'd say that If we intend to do something, we are only considering doing it, we have a certain plan in mind, but if we plan to do something, we may have taken some steps to make it happen.


Offline Daniel

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Re: "Be going to" for intentions or plans
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2018, 01:36:16 PM »
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But how to explain to my students the difference between "intention" and "plan"?
Is it important to distinguish them? They're related ideas, and the description "about our intentions or plans" seems to encompass both, rather than suggesting we must distinguish the two.

Literally, "plans" are actual, well, plans-- like a list of steps or specific known ways of doing something. "Intentions" are (potentially) more vague than that, just a desire and intent to do something, possibly without a specific plan.

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Personally, I'd say that If we intend to do something, we are only considering doing it, we have a certain plan in mind, but if we plan to do something, we may have taken some steps to make it happen.
Not exactly. No specific steps need to be taken for a plan, except making a plan. And "intend to do" just means that you expect and desire to do something, so it can include all cases of "plan to do" something as well, I think.

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Personally I like thinking about "be going to" as a prospective aspect, not a future tense. It's the inverse of the perfective aspect ("have Xed") which refers to actions that have ended before/at the present moment. "Be going to" refers to actions that are going to begin starting at/after the present moment. It also makes sense as aspect rather than tense because it can be used in other tenses: "I was going to do it, but then I forgot." Or even in the future "I will be going to..." (sort of a future of the future, rare because that context is rare).

In that sense, you can think of "be going to" as referring to the path (in time) you are going on, as you approach the future. This fits with plans/intentions. It's not guaranteed that it will happen, but you are at least currently headed toward that result-- an intention, and possibly a specific/intentional plan.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2018, 01:37:58 PM by Daniel »
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