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Sentence Patterns using "I was going to..."

We use this sentence pattern to tell about something we planned or wanted to do, but we didn't actually do it.

The key thing is that we wanted or planned to do something, but we did not do it for some reason.

I was going + infinitive..., but + reason I didn't do it

These sentences are in the past tense.
  • I was going to go to the gym after work, but I was too tired.
  • I was going to call you last night, but I feel asleep right when I got home.
  • I was going to tell you, but I completely forgot.
  • I was going to buy everybody dinner, but my credit card didn't work. It was so embarrassing.
  • I was going to watch a movie last night, but the power went out.
  • I was going to mention it at the meeting, but I forgot.
  • I was going to buy the shirt, but I forgot to bring my wallet.
  • I was going to look for a new job, but then my boss offered me a raise and a promotion.
We can also use other people as the subject.
  • She was going to come, but she decided to stay home tonight.
  • He was going to quit his job, but he decided to stay because the company gave him more money.
  • We were all going to meet at the restaurant, but it rained so hard that we all decided to meet another day.
  • They were going to get married, but they ended up breaking up.
  • The children were going to play outside, but it started to rain.
  • The workers were going to go home, but something came up.
It is also common to tell your final action using "so". When we are writing, we can connect this to the end of the sentence or we can make a new sentence.
  • I was going to eat at home, but I was too lazy. So, I ordered pizza.
  • I was going to exercise, but I got off of work too late, so I decided to just go home.
  • We were going to go on a short trip last weekend, but we heard that the traffic was going to be terrible, so we just stayed home.
  • They were going to stay home on Friday, but their friend told them about a fun party. So, they went to the party.
Bonus Tips and Points

1. Sometimes we do not want to tell people exactly why we did not do something. It could be a secret or it could be personal or maybe we just do not want to explain the situation to them. If this is the case, we can use vague expressions like "something came up".
  • I was going to call you, but something came up.
  • I was going to come to your party, but something came up and I had to deal with it.
  • She was going to come, but she couldn't because something came up.
  • He was going to do it, but he had some family emergency.
  • I was going to attend, but I had something else to do.
People also use this when lying.
  • I was going to do my homework, but there was some family emergency.
2. We can express the same thing by using "I was planning to..., but...".
  • I was planning to exercise, but I felt sick. So, I just went home.
  • She was planning to quit her job, but she decided not to.
  • They were planning to go on vacation, but they changed their minds.
  • We were planning to meet you, but our flight landed too late.
Real-World English Conversations

A) Why didn't you come to the party?
B) I was going to come, but I felt a little sick. So, I just stayed home.
A) Do you feel better now?
B) Yes, thank you.

A) I am sorry that I didn't come to your show.
B) What happened? You promised that you would come.
A) I was going to attend, but my son got sick so I had to stay with him.

A) I was going to join that company, but I decided to start my own business instead.
B) That's exciting!
A) It has been going well so far.

A) I thought that you were going to buy a new apartment in this neighborhood.
B) I was going to buy a new apartment, but the prices are just too high.
A) So, what are you going to do now?
B) I will probably just stay in my current apartment for the time being and wait for the real estate prices to go down.

Study these free English lessons to improve your English speaking. If you learn these common sentence patterns well, then your English speaking will improve greatly and you will be able to have fluent conversations in English in the near future! Study the lessons well, practice using them at home and in real life, and make sure to come back to review the material so you do not forget.

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