The future continuous tense is a verb tense that shows an action happening over a period of time in the future. “I will be dancing all night” is an example of the future continuous tense, as it indicates an action continuing over a specific future period of time. Compare it to this sentence, written in the simple future tense: “I will dance.” Although this example indicates an intention to dance in the future, it does not refer to a continuous action over a specific period of time in the future.
The future continuous tense can be confusing because it sometimes seems interchangeable with other future tenses. Below, we cover the specifics of the future continuous tense so you know when to use it—and when not to use it.
What is the future continuous tense?
The future continuous tense, also known as the future progressive tense, is a verb tense that shows an ongoing action in the future. It is the future version of the present continuous tense, which uses a similar construction.
Future continuous: I will be watching my shows from lunch until dinner.
Present continuous: I am watching my shows.
It is helpful to use the future continuous tense when describing:
- multiple actions happening in the future
- planned or confirmed future events taking place at a specific time
Although the future continuous tense is often confused with the simple future tense, there are some key differences between the two. The future continuous tense is usually used with a specified period of time, whereas the simple future tense can be used with or without an exact time.
The future continuous tense also shows more certainty than the simple future tense does. We use the future continuous tense for actions we know will happen, but we use the simple future tense for actions that are less likely.
Future continuous (certain): They will be promoting me to manager on Friday.
Simple future (uncertain): They will promote me to manager one day.
There’s also some confusion about the future continuous tense vs. the future perfect continuous tense. Keep in mind that the future continuous tense is for actions taking place over a specific period of time in the future, while the future perfect continuous tense is for actions that are ongoing into the future but lack a specified end date.
Future continuous: I will be working as a sales assistant from November to December.
Future perfect continuous: In December, I will have been working as a sales assistant for a year.
Like all other continuous tenses, you cannot use the future continuous tense with stative verbs like want, need, love, or hate. Use the simple future tense with stative verbs instead.
Future continuous tense (incorrect): I will be needing help with the repairs tomorrow.
Simple future tense (correct): I will need help with the repairs tomorrow.
How does the future continuous tense work?
The future continuous tense is formed with the words will and be plus the present participle of the actionable verb. Unlike most other verb tenses, you do not need to conjugate any verbs to match person, number, or gender.
[will] + [be] + [present participle of verb]
She will be speaking in the auditorium this evening.
Essentially, the future continuous tense takes the present continuous tense and adjusts it to speak to the future.
Remember that when using the modal verb will, the verb that follows uses its bare infinitive form (the infinitive without to). So when we add will to the present continuous, the verbs is, are, or am take their bare infinitive form, be. The present participle remains the same.
Future continuous: He will be studying for the test all night.
Present continuous: He is studying for the test right now.
How to use the future continuous tense with negatives
When using the future continuous tense with negatives, insert the word not after will and before be.
[will] + [not] + [be] + [present participle of verb]
She will not be joining us this evening.
How to use the future continuous tense with contractions
Contractions can be tricky with the future continuous tense because positive and negative sentences have different rules.
For positive sentences, if the subject is a pronoun, use a contraction with the subject and the word will.
She’ll be coming around the mountain.
I’ll be sleeping until noon.
For negative sentences, instead of using a contraction with the subject, use the contraction won’t to replace will and not.
I won’t be attending the party this weekend.
They won’t be checking their email while on holiday.
How to use the future continuous tense in questions
When using the future continuous tense in a question, the subject comes after will and before be.
[will] + [subject] + [be] + [present participle of verb]
Will she be acting in the sequel next year?
For negative questions, we typically use the contraction won’t to replace will.
Won’t she be acting in the sequel next year?
When to use the future continuous tense, with examples
There are a few particular instances when the future continuous tense is preferable over the other future tenses.
1 To describe a future action happening during a specific time
As we talked about above, the future continuous tense is often used with specified times.
We will be watching horror movies from dusk until dawn.
The museum will be hosting a special tour at 8 p.m.
2 To describe multiple future actions happening at the same time
When more than one action is happening in the future and at least one action is ongoing, use the future continuous tense.
My brother will be babysitting while I’m at work.
I’ll be playing basketball on Sunday, and my partner will be playing tennis.
3 To describe a future action interrupted by another action
In a situation involving multiple future actions and one action interrupting another, use the future continuous tense for the action being interrupted, and use the simple present for the action that interrupts.
This construction is often used with a subordinate clause beginning with when.
I will be taking a shower when the guests arrive.
When the clock strikes midnight, we will be drinking champagne.
4 To describe likely hypothetical situations in the future
All future events are hypothetical, so you can use any future tense to describe them. However, use the future continuous tense for hypothetical events that seem likely—or that you want to seem likely.
Everyone will be cheering for me at the game tomorrow.
We’ll be driving hover cars any day now.
For more details on using the future continuous tense and other tenses, check out our free grammar guide.
Future continuous tense FAQs
What is the future continuous tense?
The future continuous tense is a verb tense used to show a future action that takes place over a period of time, as with the example, “The professor will be speaking from 3 to 4 p.m.”
How does it work?
You form the future continuous tense with the modal verb will and the verb be as a bare infinitive (the infinitive form without to). After will be, add the actionable verb in its present participle form, with the –ing ending. For example, “We will be waiting here when you arrive.”
When should you use the future continuous tense?
Use the future continuous tense when you discuss multiple actions in the future, when one future action interrupts another, when you specify an action occurring during an exact future time range, or when you discuss a hypothetical future event with a high likelihood or desired likelihood.