< Grammar, Planning, and Summer Trips
By John Russell
15 July 2021

Imagine you want to talk about a plan you are making, perhaps for a trip this summer.

In today's Everyday Grammar, we will explore some important ideas for discussing plans. You will learn about important verb forms and expressions that can be used to talk about summer vacations, or really any kind of fun event in the future.

Will and be going to

everyday grammar
everyday grammar

When we talk about planning, we are generally talking about future time. English speakers show future time by using a couple of different structures.

The first is to add the word will. For example, a student might say:

I will finish my homework later.

The main verb is finish. The word will suggests a future time.

In everyday speech, English speakers often shorten will, as in:

I'll finish my homework later.

When talking about summer plans, a person might say:

We will travel in August.


We'll travel in August.

But English speakers also use the structure be + going to to talk about future plans. An example of this would be:

We are going to travel in August.

In everyday speech, going to is sometimes shortened to gonna, as in:

We're gonna travel in August.

But will and be going to are not the only useful structures for talking about plans. Different kinds of expressions can also be helpful.

Make + noun phrase

Perhaps one of the most useful of these structures is make + noun phrase. A noun phrase is a group of words that act like a noun in a sentence.

Consider this example:

Have you made summer plans yet?

Yes, we talked, argued and finally made a decision.

So, what are your plans?

We made arrangements to stay at a hotel on the beach.

You don't sound very happy about it...

I wanted to go visit family!

I'd rather go to the beach - your family must be a lot nicer than mine!

Note that the structure make + noun phrase appeared several times – made summer plans, made a decision, made arrangements.

In this case, make + noun phrase means to plan or decide to do something.

Phrasal verbs

English speakers also often use phrasal verbs when talking about plans. A phrasal verb is a verb and another short word or words that act together in a sentence. They take on a meaning different from what the individual words suggest.

One common phrasal verb used for planning is pick up.

Pick up has different meanings, but probably the most common one is to get or take something or someone from a place.

So, someone might plan to pick up a family member from the airport. Or, a person might plan to pick up some food.

Consider this example:

Are you going to pick up Ben at the airport?

Yes, he arrives at 8 o'clock.

What will you do for dinner?

We will pick up some food on the way home.

Note that both will and be going to appear in the discussion, as does the phrasal verb pick up.

Closing thoughts

Take some of the ideas you heard today and use them to write about your own plans. These plans can be real or imagined. What is important is that you get experience describing plans of many kinds.

Of course, there are many other ways you can talk about future plans... But we will wait to explore those ideas in a future program.

I'm John Russell.

John Russell wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English. Bryan Lynn was the editor.

Words in This Story

arrangement – n. (usually plural) something that is done to prepare or plan for something in the future

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