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Archive Language Point 74

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The future in the past

Alice and Kitty in the kitchen

Going to: future plans

Speakers of English use to be + 'going to' + base verb (without 'to') to talk about plans for the future.

I'm going to visit my uncle in Thailand next Spring.
I'm going to wash the dishes.
I'm going to Poland for Christmas.

Time expressions can be used if the speaker wants to say when the action will happen.

I'm going to visit my uncle in Thailand next Spring.

But it is not always necessary to use a time expression: 'going to' refers to an unspecified time in the future.
I'm going to wash the dishes.

'Going to go' can be shortened to 'going'.
I'm going to Poland for Christmas. = 'I'm going to go to Poland for Christmas.'


Was going to: the future in the past

Sometimes we make plans for the future, but the plans don't actually happen. Speakers of English use was/were + 'going to' + base verb (without 'to') to look back at the plans we made but didn't do.

I was going to visit my uncle in Thailand last Spring, but I couldn't afford a ticket.
I was going to wash the dishes, but there wasn't enough time.
I was going to go to Poland for Christmas, but I stayed in France.

Time expressions can be used if the speaker wants to say when the action should have happened.
I was going to visit
my uncle in Thailand last Spring.

But it is not always necessary to use a time expression.
I was going to wash the dishes.
I was going to meet a gorgeous man.
He was going to be funny, and rich too.

When the subject of the sentence is I/he/she/it, use 'was'.
I was going to meet a gorgeous man. He was going to be funny, and rich too.

When the subject of the sentence is you/we/they, use 'were'.
We were going to get married.


Was/were going to: pronunciation

In spoken English, the phrase 'going to' can be pronounced word by word, especially when speaking slowly, or in formal situations.

However, in faster speech (also known as connected speech), or in less formal situations, 'going to' is often pronounced as 'gunna'gunna

In addition, the pronunciation of 'was' becomes 'wuz'wuz(rhymes with 'buzz') and 'were' becomes 'wuh'wuh(rhymes with 'the')

Alice uses this informal pronunciation style when she says:
'I wuz gunna meet a gorgeous manwuz gunna
Listen

Now listen to Alice using more formal pronunciation.
'I was going to meet a gorgeous man.'

Listen

'He wuz gunna be funny.' wuz gunna
Listen

'He was going to be funny.'

Listen

'.we wuh gunna get married and everything.' wuh gunna
Listen

'we were going to get married and everything'

Listen

For more information about pronunciation in connected speech, see the BBC Learning English pronunciation webpage


Vocabulary:

resolutions:
promises you make to yourself about how you are going to improve your life by changing your behaviour; people often make resolutions at New Year

to have high hopes:
to feel very positive and optimistic about the future of something

he had a skeleton in his closet:
he had a secret about something bad that happened in the past

that's that:
the situation is completed and can not be changed

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