The future continuous tense is one of English’s future tenses that helps us discuss things that will be happening in the future, to make predictions about the future, and to reassure others about the future, among other uses. If you already know the present continuous and the simple future tense, then the future continuous tense structure should be truly no problem at all. Although this tense is relatively simple, many schools do not focus on teaching it. This is despite the fact that it is commonly used in everyday English conversation.
If this tense does not sound familiar, you may have learned it under a different name. It is sometimes referred to as the future progressive tense.
In this article, we want to give you a chance to study future continuous through a look at the grammar involved in this tense, examples of sentences, and some conversation ideas of where this tense would be useful.
If you have any questions about what you read here, feel free to ask us by commenting or clicking on the image below.
We also have a number of other grammar resources for you to use. This includes pages on the simple future and present continuous tenses, which you will need to know before you start on the future continuous tense.
All of these resources can be found on our Verbs in English page.
What is the Future Continuous Tense?
The future continuous tense is used to talk about continuous actions that will happen for a certain amount of time in the future. More simply, we use it to talk about things that we believe will be happening at a given point sometime later.
One interesting feature of this verb tense is that it only works with action verbs. We cannot use verbs like be, like, know, or remember.
Future Continuous Tense Vs Simple Future
Although the simple future tense is a more commonly used verb tense, it can’t do everything when it comes to the future. Simple future is best used to tell us facts (or what we believe to be facts) about the future. It has a very definitive sound to it.
I will visit mom tomorrow.
I am going to study English this year.
The future continuous, by contrast, is more about putting yourself into your future self’s shoes. For this reason, it is often used when you are having a casual conversation. It has a far more casual tone.
I will be writing my essay tomorrow after dinner.
She will be playing soccer this spring.
Future Continuous Uses
So when do we use the future continuous? It can be hard to outline when you should use this tense because it is often dependent on the situation and how one feels about the future. However, there are some instances where you are likely to see this tense used.
1. Continuous Events in the Future
The most basic use of this verb tense is to talk about continuous events in the future.
Next year, he will be studying at Yale.
I’ll be watching that movie with Tami tonight.
2. Projecting Yourself Into the Future
When you are asked about what you will be doing in the future, you can use the future continuous tense. This is especially true when it is less of a fact and more of a where do you see yourself kind of answer.
What will you be doing tomorrow at 8?
I will be watching Netflix with my friends.
In this example, you can see that the question is asking the speaker to think about what they will be doing at 8 o’clock tomorrow. They must think about their future selves and predict what they will be doing. This is another common use for this verb tense.
You can compare the previous future continuous tense sentences with the below simple future sentences to see the difference.
When will you graduate?
I will graduate next year.
In this instance, the answer is not a guess. They are instead using what they know about the future to state a fact. Although it is not set in stone, the speaker is very certain that they will graduate next year.
3. Guessing About the Future
Although most statements about the future are guesses, sometimes these guesses are fairly uncertain. When you are guessing about the future, you can use the future continuous tense.
I think he will be retiring next year.
I believe we will be sorry that we forgot about her birthday.
4. Two Simultaneous Actions in the Future
When two things are happening at the same time in the future, we can use the future continuous to express this.
While you are writing exams, we will be relaxing in Hawaii.
He’ll be wishing he was there while you are traveling through Europe.
5. An Event that Is Happening Now and Will Continue
When something is happening now, and it will likely continue into the future, you can use the future continuous to describe it. We need to use still with our sentence, though.
He will still be running tonight.
They will still be wanting to eat when they get home.
The future continuous can also be used to reassure someone that something will happen or get done.
We’ll be finishing the repairs this week. (reassuring that repairs will be done soon)
They’ll be arriving any second now. (reassuring that they will get there quickly)
7. Polite Questions About the Future
When we are asking about future plans, it can seem rude or overly forceful to use the simple future. So, often we use the future continuous because it feels more polite and less forceful.
What will you do tomorrow? (forceful)
What will you be doing tomorrow? (casual, polite)
Where will you work in London? (forceful)
Where will you be working in London? (casual, polite)
Future Continuous Tense Structure
Next, we want to look at how future continuous tense structure works. As stated earlier, this is not so hard as you should have already mastered the simple future and present continuous before this.
Download the above chart at the link below.
Subject + will + be + (root verb + ing)
I will be running.
She will be swimming.
Subject + will + not + be + (root verb + ing)
We will not be joining them.
They will not be playing this game.
Will + subject + be + (root verb + ing) + ?
Will you be visiting her tomorrow?
Will Tara be studying tonight?
Contractions for the Future Continuous
As this tense can often be very conversational, it is common to use contractions when you form it. Below, we will outline how these constructions should look.
Subject’ll + be + (root verb + ing)
I’ll be running.
You’ll be eating.
She’ll be swimming.
He’ll be jumping.
It’ll be printing.
We’ll be hiking.
They’ll be partying.
Subject + won’t + be + (root verb + ing)
We won’t be joining them.
They won’t be playing this game.
There is no common contracted form for questions.
Conversations to Practice Future Continuous
One of the best ways to learn a new verb tense is by using it in conversation. Here are some conversation ideas that you can use to practice this verb tense.
1. What will you be doing this time next year?
I’ll be traveling around Europe.
I’ll be starting university.
2. What will you be doing when you graduate?
I’ll be looking for a job.
I’ll be moving to London.
3. What will you be doing after you retire?
I think I’ll be fishing every day.
I’ll be moving to Florida.
We hope that you have found our future continuous resources helpful. Although this tense may be less important than simple future, it is still something that every serious English learner should study. If you have any questions that weren’t addressed in this article, then please comment on this post so that we can answer your question as quickly as possible.
If you are looking to take your English learning to the next level, sign up for our email list so we can send you the resources, quizzes, and study materials that you can use to improve your English for free.