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What Is a Future Progressive?

By Angie Bates
Updated May 17, 2024
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Also called the future continuous, the future progressive is a verb tense which indicates that a future action will be ongoing. Only verbs which have a definite beginning and ending to their action can be used in the future progressive. Formed by placing "will be" or "going to be" in front of a verb ending in "-ing," the future progressive is normally used to indicated an assumed interruption to a future action, an ongoing future intention, or to ask a question about future action.

To form a future progressive, two auxiliary verbs are used. Auxiliary verbs are specific verbs used in conjunction with the main verb in order to shift the meaning. Either "will" or "going" is the first auxiliary verb used to form a future progressive. The verb "to be" is the second. The auxiliary verbs are followed by the main verb with an "-ing" ending, such as in "will be running" or "going to be shopping."

A future progressive is only used when the action in question is both in the future and is continuing or progressing. For example, "Tomorrow afternoon, I will be swimming." Unlike the simple future, "Tomorrow afternoon, I will swim," which states at some point during the given time frame swimming will occur, the future progressive indicates the action is continuing through the whole afternoon. Most often the progressive form is used in response to a suggestion that an action may be interrupted. For example, "tomorrow afternoon, I will be swimming," would be a logical response to someone saying, "I thought I'd have lunch with you tomorrow afternoon."

Additionally, the future progressive may be used to ask a question about a future event. Questions posed in the future progressive are generally designed to be polite and non-presumptive while still indicating that the asker hopes the answer to be in the affirmative. For example, the question, "Will you be cooking dinner tomorrow night?" uses the future progressive "will be cooking."

Normally, only dynamic, not stative, verbs can be used in the future continuous. Dynamic verbs denote actions which have a clear beginning and ending, whereas stative verbs generally indicate states of being, such as "love," "be," or "believe," which often have no clear cut beginning or end. For example, saying "at 11 tonight, I will be loving you" seems nonsensical or humorous, since one would assume the love the speaker has is simply a state he or she is always in, not something that can be restricted to a time frame. On the other hand, saying "at 11 tonight, I will be watching a movie" seems more reasonable because in this case, the speaker is indicating an event with a clear time frame.

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