Talk:Going-to future

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Origin of gonna[edit]

"The slang term gonna derives from songs that previously had a-verb preceded by goin'. For example, the sentence "I am going to make a sandwich" was usually sung as "I'm goin' a-make a sandwich", which later became written as "I'm gonna make a sandwich"."

Is this proven linguistic fact? I always thought that slang was derived from "going to", with the "to" eventually becoming a short schwa sound, in a case parallel to "want to" --> "wanna". Any expert opinion would be appreciated. Xyzzyva 23:01, 20 December 2005 (UTC)

This definitely is not true. Just some sort of 'folk etymology'. I also wouldn't consider it slang, but rather a colloquial pronunciation. Maknas 03:55, 15 January 2006 (UTC)


How about the phrase "I'm a-make a sandwich" in place of "I'm going to make a sandwich"? Thus "gonna" is reduced further to a prefix "a". 217.43.105.119 19:26, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Isn't that an enclitic on "I'm" though? Like "I'm=a make a sandwich"? I believe the same speakers (I think especially AAVE speakers) would allow "I'm=a really do it this time", but not "I'm really a=do it this time"... --Kiwibird (talk) 19:05, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

Celtic languages[edit]

I'm removing the bit about some Celtic languages having this construction, as none of the ones I'm familiar with (Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Welsh) does. If Breton and/or Cornish do, please specify which and add a source. —Angr 12:18, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

A discussion of other languages which include the construct *would* be useful here, though. French, for example, is among them, though Italian is not. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 72.8.105.140 (talk) 22:44:57, August 19, 2007 (UTC)

I think the list is: all Germanic languages, most Romance languages (including Piemontese and some other Italian dialects, but not standard Italian), and, depending on how far you stretch things, a smattering of random languages from around the world. --75.36.142.90 13:46, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Germanic languages? I haven't studied German for long but I was under the impression that it does not have a construct like this. Am I wrong? Anaphor 02:54, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I've never heard a German construction that's parallel to the English going-to future, either. Some Scandinavian languages, on the other hand, do use something similar: Danish kommer til at, Swedish kommer att (I've even heard the att 'to' dropped in substandard Swedish). The "travel as future" metaphor is definitely there, but seems to move in the other direction; then again, English speakers can say "How did this come to be?" implying that "this" didn't exist before. -- Ingeborg S. Nordén 17:34, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

"Most other languages use the same sort of structure to form a future tense."[edit]

I don't think this is true. Germanic languages certainly use a "going to" form (the only alternative being the "will" form), and Romance languages can do so despite having a simple future (or at least a habere future). But I don't think it's even true of Indo-European languages in general, much less "most languages."

While I can imagine that the metaphor of travel for future, intention, and prediction could be a human universal, that has to be established by actual usage in most languages, and I don't think it has been.

For example, in Japanese, you can say the equivalent of "I'm going to see you" ("anato wa mi ni iku"), but it very clearly means that I am going somewhere, and doing so for the purpose of seeing you, rather than that I'm promising or planning to see you in the future. Even where this reading seems like a ridiculous stretch, like "I'm going to speak English" ("eikoku wa hanashi ni iku") it would be interpreted as going somewhere for the purpose of speaking English.

In Japanese, some verbs are inherently future in non-past conjugation, and a few are future in -te + iru form; for others, you use what English-speakers would consider present plus an adverb. I believe (although I could be wrong) that the same is true in Chinese, and probably in most other isolating languages.

According to my one source (whose first language is English, but she was born in Iran to an Armenian family), only one of the two major Armenian dialects has a form similar to (but not equivalent to) "going to," and Farsi does not have anything like it at all. Note that these are Indo-European languages, from disparate branches.

For an even bigger stretch, based on my memories of an abortive attempt to learn Welsh (another Indo-European language, this one more closely related to the German and Italic languages), Celtic languages have three ways to form the future: a simple future, a "will"-like auxilliary, and a "do"-like auxilliary, and you can even combine the latter two. At first glance, "I will do to read it" doesn't sound that much different from "I am going to read it," but in fact the travel verb is completely absent, and the patterns have almost nothing in common (nor do the connotations behind the distinctions have much similarity).

I'm even less convinced that, where "going to" exists, the distinction between it and other future forms (e.g., connoting established plans, certain predictions, willful intentions, general strong association with the present) is consistent across languages. I'm not even sure they're universal in English; compare "I am going to be there" to "I will be there" in most dialects, and then in that overeducated British that distinguishes "will" from "shall." --75.36.142.90 13:43, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

You're probably right about Chinese. Something grammatically resembling the going-to future construct exists, for example 我去看电影 means "I'm going to watch a movie," but I think "going to" refers to the anticipated movement from where the speaker is, to the place where he will be when watching the movie, and the tense is just inferred as it often is in Chinese. It wouldn't be correct to say something like "In an hour, I'm going to read this book" if the book is in front of you. Similarly, you can say "I'm going to sleep" (In Chinese), but not if you're lying in bed... Yeah, so I think you were right about Chinese being like the Japanese structure you described, even though it seems like the going-to future exists syntactically. I hope that made sense ^^ JRNorbergé (talk) 21:05, 24 December 2009 (UTC)

Usage: Previously formed intention[edit]

to distinguish between "will" for spontaneous decisions and "going to" for previously formed intent seem to me to be arbitrary. I have seen both used to indicate previous intent, with the "I will" form being used more often in formal or institutional discourse. How is this not just an idiosyncratic / dialectical variation-- Gerry Turner 06:25, 19 March 2008 (UTC)