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Going / going to

Two people trying to snowboard

A question from Marcel Fehlmann in Switzerland:
Good afternoon. Using 'going to' for the future: Is it more natural to say 'I'm going to go snowboarding' or 'I'm going snowboarding'? Thank you for your answer.


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Amos Paran answers:
Well, Marcel, what it really depends on is to what extent your plans to go snowboarding are fixed, or not.

The present progressive is used for plans and arrangements that are pretty well definite and fixed. So, if I say I am going to the doctor tomorrow, this means that I have an appointment, or that there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I will do this. I am going to go to the doctor tomorrow means that I am planning to do so, I intend to do so - but I am less certain about it.

So, in my case, I would say I am flying to Hungary next month because I already have the ticket. But I would say I am going to go to Italy for my summer holiday this year because in fact I've not finalised my plans and may yet change them.

Amos Paran is the Course Leader of the MA in Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Distance Learning at the Institute of Education, University of London. His main teaching and research interests are reading in a foreign language and the use of literature in foreign language teaching and learning.


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