Future Continuous: Rules and Usage

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The Future Continuous is one of the tenses we use to talk about the future.

But why exactly do we need this tense? Can we only use the Future Simple for the future?

The Future Simple does not show continuous actions. Actions that are in progress.

Therefore, we have to use the Future Continuous.

What is the Future Continuous?

The Future Continuous describes the actions that will be in progress. The Future Continuous describes actions that will last at a certain time in the future or actions that will last from a certain moment in the future to another certain moment in the future.

Let’s see what the Future Continuous is. How the Future Continuous is formed. How the Future Continuous differs from the Future Simple and the Present Continuous.

Vintage pocket watch on a dark background, text Future Continuous Full guide.

How to form sentences

The Future Continuous is very simple to form. We need only two main components:

  1. The future form of the verb to be. This is will be.
  2. The main verb with the -ing ending.

Let’s look at these two components in more detail:

  1. We use the future form of the verb to be. The future form of the verb to be is will be regardless of who is the subject.
  • I will be working
  • He will be reading
  • She will be walking
  • It will be swimming
  • We will be running
  • They will be speaking
  • You will be writing
  1. The verb with the -ing ending is a verb that expresses dynamics, duration, process, action in the process.

A verb in its usual base form without the particle to shows a simple action as it is:

  • speak
  • write
  • run
  • talk
  • walk

A verb with the -ing ending shows the dynamics of its action:

  • speaking
  • writing
  • running
  • talking
  • walking

For some verbs, we can simply add -ing to form a continuous form:

talk + ing = talking

walk + ing = walking

For some verbs, we add the -ing ending according to the rules for adding the -ing ending.

write – e + ing = writing

run + n + ing = running

How to form Affirmative (Positive) Sentences in Future Continuous

To form an affirmative (positive) sentence, we put the subject first. After the subject, we put the verb to be in its future form will be. Then we put the main verb with the -ing ending.

Subject (I, he, we, John, dog) + will be + main verb ending in -ing (speaking, walking, reading) + rest of the sentence.

We will be playing.

He will be running.

How to form Interrogative (Question) Sentences in Future Continuous

To form an interrogative (question) sentence, we put will first. After will, we put the subject. We put be after the subject. After that, we put the main verb with the -ing ending. Then, we can add the rest of the sentence if needed.

Will + Subject (I, he, we, John, dog) + be + main verb ending in -ing (speaking, walking, reading) + rest of the sentence.

Will she be taking questions?

Will we be working on this project next year?

Note that when we ask a question we only put will in front of the subject, not will be. We put be after the subject.

How to ask Wh-Questions

We ask a general question when we want a simple Yes / No answer.

Will you be studying when we arrive tomorrow?

We ask a Wh-Question when we want to get additional information.

Where will you be studying when we arrive tomorrow?

Why will you be studying when we arrive tomorrow?

For this we use additional words and phrases:

  • When
  • What for
  • Why
  • Where
  • How long
  • Where exactly
  • What time
  • In which place
  • How exactly
    Etc.

Wh-Questions are no different from General or Yes/No Questions. Only we put a question word or phrase at the beginning of the question:


question word or phrase + will + Subject (I, he, we, John, dog) + be + main verb ending in -ing (speaking, walking, reading) + rest of the sentence.

When will he be reading?

How long will he be running?

Infographic of examples of question words and phrases, when, why, what time, etc.

How to form a Short Answers

A short answer to the question in the Future Continuous is formed according to the following formula:

Yes \ No + Auxiliary verb from the question (+ not if the answer is negative).

Will she be staying with you?
No, she will not.

Will we be working on this project next year?
Yes, we will.

The auxiliary verb in the answer refers to the main verb in the question.

Will she be staying with you?
No, she will not (means she will not be staying)

Will we be working on this project next year?
Yes we will (means we will be working)

How to form Full answers

A full answer to the question in the Future Continuous is formed according to the following formula:

Yes / No + part of the question in the affirmative (positive) or negative.

Will she be staying with you?
No, she will not be staying with me.

Will we be working on this project next year?
Yes, we will be working on this project (next year).

How to form Negative Sentences in Future Continuous

To form a negative sentence, we put the subject first. After the subject, we put will with the negative not. Then we put be. After that, we put the main verb with the -ing ending.

Subject (I, he, we, John, dog) + will + not + be + main verb with the -ing ending (speaking, walking, reading) + the rest of the sentence.

Next year we will not be working with those schools.

John will not be working when we arrive.

Be careful, in the negative sentence we put not exactly after will, not after the be.

Incorrect: John will be not working when we arrive.
Correct: John will not be working when we arrive.

Abbreviation of will in negative sentences

We contract will not in negative sentences, turning will not into won’t.

This is a slightly unusual form of contraction, as the letter “o” appears in this form.

will not = won’t

  • I won’t
  • He won’t
  • She won’t
  • It won’t
  • We won’t
  • They won’t
  • You won’t

I will not be doing it = I won’t be doing it

Infographic of the short form of the will not and examples of the will not with all pronouns, an example of sentences
The short form of will not.

When we Use Future Continuous

We use the Future Continuous in the following cases:

  1. We use the Future Continuous to express a continuous action that will take place in the future at some point.

I will be fixing my car tomorrow at 10 am.

Jessica will be sitting in the library all tomorrow.

  1. We use the Future Continuous to describe two or more actions that will happen in the future at the same time.

I will be cleaning the apartment, Maria will be cooking for the meal.

Attention: Actions that we describe using the Future Continuous must occur simultaneously. If these actions are not simultaneous but follow each other, then we use the Future Simple.

  1. We use the Future Continuous to describe an action when we can accurately answer when exactly will the action take place. In what period of time will this happen. From what moment to what moment will this happen.

Tomorrow at six o’clock two teams will be playing on the field.

I will be driving home this time tomorrow.

example of a sentence in future continuous, a car driving on the road in the wood.
Example of the Future Continuous.
  1. We use the Future Continuous to express an action that was planned in advance.

In this case, we use the verb with the -ing ending to emphasize that this action was not spontaneous but planned. The Future Continuous emphasizes our belief that this is how things will happen.

We will be swimming in Hawaii on August 25.

  1. We use the Future Continuous to ask about someone’s plans.

Will you be working with Albert?

Note: When we use the Future Continuous, such questions sound more polite than if we ask a question using the Future Simple.

Important: We often ask questions like this to make sure our plans match the plans of the person who we are asking.

  1. We use the Future Continuous to invite someone. When we use the Future Continuous, such a sentence looks very polite.

Will you be working on this project with me?

Note: If we ask this question using the Future Simple, then such a question will sound like a more insistent invitation.

Will you work on this project with me?

  1. We use the Future Continuous when we talk about actions that will happen inevitably and we cannot influence this in any way. Because there are reasons that do not depend on us.

I signed a contract so next month I will be working on this book.

Do we use Shall?

Shall is an auxiliary verb. We can use shall in all future tenses including the Future Simple but only with I and We.

  • I shall…
  • We shall…

Also, we must remember that shall is used rarely in modern English.

Once upon a time, shall was widely used instead of will for I and We.

  • I shall
  • He will
  • She will
  • It will
  • We shall
  • They will
  • You will

We shall be working closely with Australia.

But then will began to gradually replace shall.

  • I will
  • He will
  • She will
  • It will
  • We will
  • They will
  • You will

We will be working closely with Australia.

Shall looks outdated these days, almost no one uses it in modern English.

The use of shall can only be found in some fixed expressions, grammatical forms, old books, fiction, or when someone imitates the “old” sound of the English language.

You need to know what shall is and how to use it so that you can understand what this verb means.

Anyway, remember, in modern English, will is used the same way regardless of who is the subject.

An old journal and pencil, the page of the journal says shall looks outdated these days almost no one uses it in modern English.

Stative verbs and Action verbs

In English, there are two main groups of verbs. Stative verbs and Action verbs. The group of Stative verbs includes verbs that mean:

  • Thought processes
  • Feelings
  • States
  • Possession

These verbs include:

  • to want
  • to see
  • to love
  • to have
  • to be
  • to remember

We do not use such verbs with the -ing ending because the duration of these processes cannot be seen, felt, or measured.

We can say:

I’m running.

Running is a process that we can see or measure. We can imagine someone running for a certain length of time:

I was running from 4 o’clock to 5 o’clock.

But we cannot imagine:

I am wanting

Because “to want” is a state that cannot be expressed in such a visual way as to run. You either want something or you don’t. After all, it would be silly to say:

I am wanting to eat.

We of course say:

I want to eat.

Two sentences show the difference between a stative verb and an action verb, dandelion petal flying in the air

Therefore, Stative verbs (non-continuous verbs) are used in the Future Simple instead of the Future Continuous.

But in some cases there are exceptions, and we can use Stative verbs with the -ing ending.

For example, we use Stative verbs with -ing when we want to emphasize the duration or progress of a feeling or state.

Oh! I will be loving that idea!

Example of a sentence shows how we can use a stative verb as an action verb, painting of a girl dancing.
Sometimes we can use stative verbs as action verbs.

What is the difference between Future Continuous vs Future Simple?

The Future Continuous is often confused with the Future Simple.

Let’s take a look at the main differences between the Future Continuous and the Future Simple.

  1. We use Future Continuous If we want to politely ask someone’s plans. We use Future Simple if we want to more persistently invite someone.

Will you be working on this project with me?

Will you work on this project with me?

2. We use the Future Continuous to describe an action that will take place at a certain point in the future. We use the Future Simple to say that some action will happen in the future and this action will not relate to any specific moment or period of time.

Tomorrow I will work.

Tomorrow at this time I will be working.

What is the difference between Present Continuous and Future Continuous?

We use both the Present Continuous and the Future Continuous to tell our plans that we are confident in.

When we use the Present Continuous we are talking about plans for the future. When we use the Future Continuous, we are talking about plans for the future and indicate the moment when this will happen.

I am playing tennis with Jack tomorrow.
I will be playing tennis with Jack tomorrow at three o’clock.

Markers

The Future Continuous markers are words and phrases such as:

  • all day long
  • all night
  • all the time
  • at 3 o’clock
  • at that moment
  • during that time
  • during the afternoon
  • during the day
  • during the morning
  • during this time
  • for 10 hours
  • for a week
  • for months
  • from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. tomorrow
  • from Monday to Wednesday
  • from two till three
  • from…till…
  • from…to….
  • in the meantime
  • meantime
  • meanwhile
  • the day after tomorrow
  • the same time next week
  • the whole evening
  • the whole morning
  • the whole year
  • this time tomorrow

We will be working the whole evening.

Jessica will be working from ten o’clock in the morning.

They will be having fun all day long.

Infographic of examples of future continuous markers, the whole year, for a week, at that moment, meantime, etc.
Future Continuous Markers.

Examples of Sentences in Future Continuous

Take a look at examples of the Future Continuous. This will help you understand the lesson better:

Tonight, one of you will be going home.

Let me show you where you will be working.

Tomorrow we will be cooking for 30 VIP’s.

When I come, the children will be doing their homework.

Tomorrow at this time these boxers will be pounding each other in the ring.

I can’t help you, I’ll be going home this time.

I will be writing the letter tonight.

Twelve new schools will be working by the end of the year.

So how many I will be cooking for?

Yes, he will be staying for a few days.

I and the boys will be playing all night.

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