The differences between “plan to do” and “plan on doing” are very subtle. While most people like to use the phrases interchangeably, it’s good to understand the differences if you want to advance your knowledge of the English language. In this article, we’ll explore them both.
What Is The Difference Between “Plan To Do” And “Plan On Doing”?
“Plan to do” should be used when someone is definitely going to do something and carry out their plan. “Plan on doing” should be used when it’s uncertain whether someone will carry out their plan, though it may happen because there are signs.
According to The Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of “plan” is”to think about and decide what you are going to do or how you are going to do something.”
Is “Plan To Do” Or “Plan On Doing” Used The Most?
While the differences between the two phrases aren’t obvious, we still think it’s wise to understand them. We also think it helps to know which of the two phrases is more popular to use.
According to this graph, “plan to do” is by far the more popular choice of the two. “Plan on doing” gets much less common usage in English.
The reason “plan to do” is more common is that when someone makes a “plan,” it’s usually more obvious that they’re going to carry it out. Since “plan to do” implies they will carry out their plan, we’re more likely to use it.
Also, we have to consider the verb forms to know which one is more popular.
“Plan to do” uses the infinitive form “to do” in the sentence. It is straight to the point and helps the reader to understand exactly what is happening. “Plan on doing” uses the present participle “doing” in the sentence. It’s more long-winded and isn’t as easy for reader comprehension.
Examples Of How To Use “Plan To Do” In A Sentence
Let’s go over using the two phrases in sentences. We’ll start with “plan to do,” the more common choice of the two. Once we understand how this works, we’ll have a much easier time understanding the rest of this article.
- I plan to do something with you this evening.
- He’s planning to do something, I can just tell.
- They’re planning to do what he asked later.
- We plan to do those things for you.
- He’s planning to do everything before tomorrow.
- I plan to do every task on this list.
“Plan to do” is used to say that something is on your agenda in the future. You’re definitely going to do whatever the plan is, and (unless something goes terribly wrong for you) nothing will stop you from carrying out your plan.
That’s the simplest way we can explain how “plan to do” is used in a sentence. It refers to the definitive action of completing something that we’ve already set in motion. Usually, people who say “plan to do” understand that something is going to happen.
When we say that someone else is “planning to do” something, it usually means we don’t have the full information. We might not know what their plan entails, but we at least know that they’re going to definitely do something.
Examples Of How To Use “Plan On Doing” In A Sentence
Now let’s see how “plan on doing” is used differently. It’s the less definitive of the two phrases and is less popular. Still, it has its uses.
- He’s planning on doing something, but I don’t know what?
- What is it you plan on doing?
- I plan on doing many things before I grow up.
- We plan on doing something, but we haven’t told each other what.
- I can tell that you plan on doing something; I hope it isn’t anything stupid.
- Whatever it is you’re planning on doing, don’t.
From these examples, the meaning of “plan on doing” is made clearer. We use it to talk about some kind of plan that a person has, though there’s nothing directly set in motion, and there’s no clear way for us to tell whether they’re going to achieve the plan.
“Plan on doing” is usually more open-ended than “plan to do.” It means that something can go wrong or that we don’t understand what the plan is or whether someone is even intending on carrying it out.
Does “Plan On Doing” And “Planning To Do” Have The Same Meaning?
The meaning of the two phrases “plan on doing” and “planning to do” is important to note as well. You might have noticed that we used both variations in the sections featuring examples above.
“Plan on doing” means that we’re not sure about the overall plan that someone has. “Planning to do” is more definitive, but it uses the present participle tense to say that someone is “planning” to do something.
The two phases are different. “Plan on doing” has already been explained. “Planning to do” is linked directly to “plan to do.”
We use “planning on doing” when we include the word “are” before it to set it up as the present participle.
- We are planning on doing something.
- I am planning on doing that.
“Plan To Do” And “Plan On Doing” – Synonyms
We believe that synonyms are some of the most useful ways for you to expand your ability. We’ll include some examples which will hopefully allow you to stop getting the two phrases in this article confused while still getting the same meaning.
If someone is “plotting” something, it means they’ve already put a plan forward to achieve something. It’s usually something that a villain might do in a film or TV show.
Again, we can “scheme” to decide on a plan that we want to carry out. Much like “plotting,” its clearest use is in film and TV.
Do The Same Rules Apply To “Planning On Going” And “Planning To Go”?
The same rules apply when we look at “planning on going” and “planning to go.” We use “going” in the more general sense, while “to go” is used to show a more direct intention of traveling somewhere.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.