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    #1

    Cool The ubiquity of will + be + ing

    I've come across so many phrases or sentences in the future continuous tense. I thought they were supposed to be written in the simple future.

    e.g. We'll be paying you at the end of your shift.

    e.g. The library will be closing earlier today.

    Paying someone and closing the library are almost momentary actions and it is perfectly alright to say we'll pay you... and the library will close... HOWEVER, TIME AND AGAIN, I'VE FOUND NATIVE SPEAKERS have a super strong tendency to us the future continuous. Am I missing something here? There must be something that the continuous aspect is conveying certain meanings while the simple aspect can't.

    I'd really really like to hear mang (and perhaps different) views from all the Native English speakers, no matter you're a teacher or not, no matter what your nationality is...A BIG THANK YOU!

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The ubiquity of will + be + ing

    5. The modal will + be + -ing form
    Progressive forms usually refer to a situation that began before a time point continues through and after that time point, and into the future, and is of limited duration. The combination of this idea with the modal will, expressing certainty, leads to the modal will + be + -ing form referring to a situation beginning before a future time point and continuing through that time point:

    Sally’s plane takes off from Heathrow at 9 o’clock tomorrow, so by about midday she will be flying over Istanbul.

    It is also possible that the speaker is more concerned with the pure certainty of the action happening than with volitional aspect that might be implied by the use of WILL by itself:

    Emma will be seeing Luke tomorrow.

    Some writers claim, with some justification, that this use of modal will + a progressive implies, by its lack of reference to intention, volition or arrangement, a 'casual' future. Depending on the context and co-text, the speaker may be intending a ‘casual’ futurity, or may be indicating a situation in progress at a particular time.

    from: Ways of Expressing the Future in English

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    #3

    Re: The ubiquity of will + be + ing

    As a side note "The library will be closing earlier today" is very ambiguous and not very natural. "Earlier today" is usually used to describe a time on the same day which has already passed and therefore isn't possible in the future!

    Today, the library will be closing earlier than normal/than usual.
    The library will be closing early today.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 04-Apr-2012 at 21:52. Reason: Insert missing word

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    #4

    Re: The ubiquity of will + be + ing

    Thanks, of course I understand the use of future continuous tense generally but to help me understand better, could someone please shed light on what the differences between the following are:

    1a) We'll be paying you at the end of your shift.
    1b) We will pay you at the end of your shift.

    2a) The library will be closing early today.
    2b) The library will close early today.

    I would almost always write sentences like (b) but I really don't understand why Native English speakers like to opt for (a).
    Thank you very much

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    #5

    Re: The ubiquity of will + be + ing

    I don't have any good answers, but I think part of it is distinguishing volition from simply talking about the future.

    Another aspect is that we use the same form so much in the present tense. We don't say "I walk to the store," we say "I am walking to the store."

    So "the store will be closing early" seems to follow the same pattern.

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    #6

    Re: The ubiquity of will + be + ing

    Quote Originally Posted by Tedwonny View Post
    Thanks, of course I understand the use of future continuous tense generally but to help me understand better, could someone please shed light on what the differences between the following are:

    1a) We'll be paying you at the end of your shift.
    1b) We will pay you at the end of your shift.

    2a) The library will be closing early today.
    2b) The library will close early today.

    I would almost always write sentences like (b) but I really don't understand why Native English speakers like to opt for (a).
    Thank you very much
    The answer I gave in post #2 works for this question.

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    #7

    Re: The ubiquity of will + be + ing

    Quote Originally Posted by Tedwonny View Post

    I would almost always write sentences like (b) but I really don't understand why Native English speakers like to opt for (a).
    Thank you very much
    We don't do it because of any difference of meaning, or fine distinction that we want to make. We do it because it's idiomatic in English to use continuous tenses more often than other languages do.
    If you look at Indian English, you'll find this taken to an extreme. Again, it's not to make any subtle distinctions that they do it.
    Indian: "It's not to be making any subtle distinctions that we are doing it."

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    #8

    Re: The ubiquity of will + be + ing

    West life has a song - I'll be loving you forever.
    Whitney Houston also has a similar song - I will always love you.

    Is there something one is stressing over the other?

    I find this very interesting.

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: The ubiquity of will + be + ing

    Quote Originally Posted by Tedwonny View Post
    West life has a song - I'll be loving you forever.
    Whitney Houston also has a similar song - I will always love you.

    Is there something one is stressing over the other?

    I find this very interesting.
    Irish English uses the continuous even more than BrE, that might be the explanation for the Westlife song title.

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    #10

    Re: The ubiquity of will + be + ing

    Quote Originally Posted by Tedwonny View Post
    no matter you're a teacher or not,

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    I have found some experts' ideas that may interest you.

    *****

    1. The pilot says to her passengers: We will be flying at 30,000 feet.
    2. The pilot says to his passengers: We will fly at 30,000 feet.

    Possible difference: No. 1 is "future as a matter of course." That is, we always fly at that altitude; No. 2 might mean that the pilot had just decided to fly at that altitude.

    *****

    3. When will you be paying back the money?
    4. When will you pay back the money?

    Difference: No. 3 is more polite. It assumes that repayment will happen as a matter of course. In other words, you -- of course -- will pay back the money; No. 4 may seem like a demand.

    *****

    5. The next train will be arriving at platform four.
    6. The next train will arrive at platform four.

    The experts make these observations:

    (a) "In describing future happenings in which there is no direct human involvement [my emphasis], the choice ... is less important."

    (b) The -ing form "tends to be more informal.


    The experts who deserve 100% credit for these ideas are Professors Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik in their magisterial A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (London and New York: Longman, 1985), pp. 216 - 217. Credit to Mr. David Crystal for compiling the index, which helped me locate this information.

    *****

    If you find some explanations for the difference between the progressive and non-progressive, please do share them with your fellow members.


    HAVE A NICE DAY!

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