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I've been looking at the difference between the "going to" future and the present continuous, for usage in future sentences.

If I understand correctly, the difference is:

  • "Going to" future is used for plans (or events) that are certain: "I am going to study physics"
  • Present continuous is used for appointments or arrangements: "I am meeting Jane on Tuesday"

One of the comparison examples I found in a video is the following:

|--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|             "Going to" future           |             Present Continuous                   |
|--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|I am going to show her around the town.  | I am showing her around the town this afternoon. |
|She is going to study Psychology.        | She is studying Psychology at college next year. |
|He is going to see his lawyer next week. | he is meeting his lawyer on Tuesday.             |
|They are going to meet again soon.       | They're meeting at 1 o'clock tomorrow.           |
|--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

My problem with that table is in the third example: He is going to see his lawyer next week. Why did the presenter use the "Going to" future instead of the Present Continuous? Isn't this a meeting at a specific date (next week)?

If that sentence is correct, then why is She is studying Psychology at college next year. Present Continuous? How does next week differ from next year?

Another quick question:

I assume They are going to meet again soon. is "Going to" future because "soon" is not a specific date. Correct?

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    I think that "difference" between "going to" future and present continuous is largely spurious. The main difference is that I am going to die automatically implies in the future, whereas I'm dying means right now. Admittedly you wouldn't often hear I'm dying tomorrow, but the important point is that it's only "future" because of the word tomorrow (just as in ...for tomorrow we die.) – FumbleFingers Sep 9 '16 at 14:22
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    If there is a future time stated in the sentence, you can either use going to or present continuous for plans, appointments, or arrangements. The following are all fine: I am going to show her around the town this afternoon, She is going to study Psychology at college next year, he is going to meet his lawyer on Tuesday, They're going to meet at 1 o'clock tomorrow, He is seeing his lawyer next week. – Peter Shor Sep 9 '16 at 16:10
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    "They are meeting again soon" works fine too, because 'soon' implies the future. The time doesn't have to be specific, merely in the future. – AmI Sep 9 '16 at 19:13
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For the present continuous to be used as future, a fairly specific future time needs to be stated (i.e. "someday" would not work). It doesn't have to be so specific, just not totally vague like "someday."

For the "going to" construction, it does not matter if you mention a future time or not, as future is implied. Also you can mention a future time whether specific or not ("someday" works fine).

I assume They are going to meet again soon. is "Going to" future because "soon" is not a specific date. Correct?

"They are meeting again soon" would actually be fine too, but is not likely to be used often. But "They are meeting again someday" would not. There it would need to be "They are going to meet again someday." Or, of course, you can use the explicit future tense: "They will meet again someday."

A phrase I think is commonly used that is present continuous as future is "I'm moving soon" or "I am moving soon," like in "I'm moving to Dallas soon." So you can use "soon" with present continuous as future.

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Going to = is used for personal plans/decisions before the time of speaking. Can be use also for intention and prediction.

Present continuous =used for arrangement or appointment with Time expression or place before the time of speaking.

Will = desicions at the time of speaking.

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