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Future Continuous‏‎ in English Grammar

colorful eye bulbs graffiti The Future Continuous verb form indicates an action or an event that will be in progress at sometime in the future.

As you can see from the timeline here, the action begins in the future and continues past a specific time the speaker is talking about.

Future Continuous timeline

For example, suppose we are talking about watching a film tonight. It will begin at 8 o’clock and finish at 10 o’clock. I can say:

At 9 o’clock I will be watching the film.

Formation

The future continuous is formed by joining the future simple of the verb to be with the main verb in the present participle (-ing).

will be + present participle

The lawyer will be addressing the Court at 9.15am.

I will be resting for a few days so I won’t be around.

They won’t be coming back before Monday.

 Both the specific or approximate time of the future event or activity can be stated, but it is not necessary.

Hi guys! I will be calling you by your first name, so please just call me Eric.

Be Going To

The construction be going to can also be used instead of will to create the future continuous.

be going to + be + present participle

This construction is more colloquial and a bit cumbersome but the meaning is pretty much the same. See for yourself.

Are they going to be waiting for us?
Will they be waiting for us?

Mary is going to be helping at the reception desk when John is on holiday.
Mary will be helping at the reception desk when John is on holiday.

I’m going to be staying at the Hilton Hotel.
I will be staying at the Hilton Hotel.

Usage

When you have two actions or events taking place in the future and you want to show that the shorter action interrupts or crosses the longer one you can use the future continuous.

 Hurry up or you will still be cooking when the guests arrive.

 I will be waiting for you at the bust stop if it rains.

 She will be crying every day this week when she reads that note!

N.B. The interruptions (marked in italics) are in the present simple rather than the future simple because they are in time clauses‏‎, and you cannot use future tenses in time clauses.

Longer actions can also be interrupted by specific times. Note that with the future simple, a specific time is used to show the time an action will begin or end. With future continuous a specific time interrupts or crosses the action. See the difference here.

Thank you for all your presents! I will open them tonight at midnight.

(when the clock strikes midnight I’ll start opening the presents)

Thank you for all your presents! I will be opening them tonight at midnight.

(when the clock strikes midnight I’ll be in the process of opening the presents)

Trivia

If you want a ‘musical’ example of the usage of the future continuous tense listen to the song “Every Breath You Take” written by Sting and performed by The Police in 1983. The single was the biggest hit of 1983, topping the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for 8 weeks; the UK Singles Chart for four weeks and the Billboard Top Tracks chart for 9 weeks.

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you.

Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching you.

Oh can’t you see
You belong to me?
How my poor heart aches with every step you take.

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you.

Since you’ve gone I’ve been lost without a trace.
I dream at night, I can only see your face.
I look around but it’s you I can’t replace.
I feel so cold, and I long for your embrace.
I keep crying baby, baby please…

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you.

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you

Useful Links

Future‏‎ Tense in English Grammar – the future in English grammar

Image © vasta

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