Are both sentences grammatically correct? Is there any difference in meaning between these two?

I'm going to finish my report before I go to sleep.


I'm going to finish my report before I'm going to sleep.


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Yeah, sort of. Sentences such as the ones you've put forward are context dependent. Here's a scenario in which the context makes your second sentence grammatical.

Joe Blow: I'm going to have a slice of chocolate cake before I go to sleep .

Jane Doe: Before I'm going to sleep, I'm going to finish my report.

There are likely a dozen ways of saying/writing sentence number two, but do you see the distinction between the use of the simple present tense and the gerundial "I'm going"? A strict grammarian may bust my chops for suggesting the "before I'm going to sleep" locution is awkward, and I suppose it is, but it does serve a purpose in expressing someone's firm intentions, yes? Shades of meaning . . ..

  • This is very helpful. Thanks! So the emphasis of the present continuous here is on the firm intention of the speaker rather than the order of activity, yes? – Paul Edison Oct 13 '14 at 3:06
  • Yes, I think so. Another way of stating it: "I'm going to sleep, but first I'm going to finish my report." Here there is a firm intention to do both (i.e., go to sleep AND finish the report). Also, in Jane Doe's sentence, there is a hint of a process: a process of going to sleep. Perhaps she is in the habit of brushing her teeth, putting on her jammies, and so on. Language is funny that way. It's hard to tell what she means without there being further information. Context is crucial, of course. Don – rhetorician Oct 13 '14 at 5:03

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