Friday, May 28, 2010

Expressing intentions

When you are “planning” to do something, what is your degree of intent? I’m just curious because apparently in the Russian language, “planning” is tentative. That is, “planning” to do something means that you still aren’t sure. I don’t know if this is a linguistic distinction, or cultural, or both.

In class today we asked the teacher what the difference was between “thinking” about doing something and “planning” to do something. She said they were synonyms. We asked how you could express “planning” to do something, but when you are sure. She said that didn’t happen. Hmm, okay…

Here’s how I picture the English verbs working:

1)    I’m thinking about going/I might go to the beach tomorrow (tentative).
2)    I’m planning to go to the beach tomorrow if the weather’s nice (conditional: I’ll go IF x happens).
3)    I’m planning to go to the beach unless it rains (conditional: I’ll go UNLESS x happens).
4)    I’m going to the beach tomorrow (no question).

I would definitely view option 3 as closer to yes than no. But these are all assumptions from my own head. Maybe I’m wrong?


  1. V.....................May 30, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    You know it's interesting that you've mention that. For instance, if I say: 'I am thinking about buying a car' or 'I am planning to buy a car' they pretty much mean the same. However, if I say: 'I am thinking about taking a vacation' or 'I am planning to go on vacation' they are two different things. 'Thinking' in this case becomes 'maybe in some future I may take a vacation'.

    Although some may disagree. I think it's WHAT I am going to get at the end determines the intent of my 'thinking' or 'planning'.

  2. It definitely depends on the activity, because for some actions there are simply more factors that could go wrong. Going on vacation can be affected by money, weather, tickets, reservations, transportation, etc. Taking a trip to the grocery store-not so much. But I suppose different people may have different expectations about what is flexible and what isn't. Normally if I tell someone my plans, I intend to follow through.


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