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7. The Future Continuous


This tense is made up of the future simple of to be + the present participle. In the first person, will is more usual than shall, except in the interrogative.

I will be working I won’t be working Shall I be working?

B. Use

This tense has two uses:

It can be used as an ordinary continuous tense.

It can express future without intention.

1. Like other continuous tenses we use the future continuous to say that we will be in the middle of doing something at a certain time in the future.

This time next week I’ll be on holiday. I’ll probably be lying on a beautiful beach.

2. The future continuous used in this way does not imply that the speaker has arranged to do something. It merely states that this action will occur in the normal course of events. The future continuous is somewhat similar to the present continuous but differs from it in the following points:

I am seeing Tom tomorrow.

I’ll be seeing Tom tomorrow.

The first implies that Tom or the speaker has arranged the meeting, but the second implies that Tom and the speaker will meet in the ordinary course of events (perhaps they work together).

3. Let’s compare the future continuous and will + infinitive.

I’ll write to Mr Pitt and tell him about Tom’s new job.

I’ll be writing to Mr Pitt and I’ll tell him about Tom’s new job.

In the first sentence the verb in bold type expresses intention. The speaker has already decided to write the letter and tells the news. But in the second sentence the verb in bold type expresses no intention. It is merely a statement of fact and implies that this letter will be written as a matter of routine because, probably, I write letters to Mr Pitt regularly.

8. The Future Perfect

A. Form

will/shall + perfect infinitive

B. Use

It is normally used with a time expression beginning with by: by then, by that time, by the 24th:

By the end of next month he will have been here for ten years.

It is used for an action which at a given future time will be in the past, or will just have finished.

We’re late. I expect the film will already have started

by the time we get to the cinema.

In clauses of time and condition the Present Perfect is used instead of the Future Perfect.

9. The Future Perfect Continuous

A. Form

will/shall have been + the present participle

B. Use

Like the future perfect, it is normally used with a time expression beginning with by. The future perfect continuous has the same relationship to the future perfect as the present perfect continuous has to the present perfect, i.e. the future perfect continuous can be used instead of the future perfect:

1. When the action is continuous:

By the end of the month he will have been working here for five years.

2. When the action is expressed as a continuous action, i.e. if we are interested in the action itself:

By the end of the month he will have been repairing cars.

But if we mention the number of cars we must use the future perfect:

By the end of the month he will have repaired 7 cars.

10. be + infinitive (I am to...)

This structure is often used to talk about arrangements which have been planned for the future. It is very much used in newspapers:

The Queen is to visit Japan next year.

There’s to be a rail strike on July 18th.

be+ infinitive can also be used to give orders. (Parents often tell children to do things in this way.)

You’re to do your homework before you watch TV.

Tell her she’s not to be back late.

11. be about + infinitive

This structure expresses the immediate future and means ‘going to very soon’:

Don’t go out now - we’re about to have lunch.

just can be added to make the future even more immediate:

I was just about to go to bed when there was a knock at the door.

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