If you speak English, you most likely make use of the English future tense every day. And chances are, if you're not an English scholar or planning on teaching English, you don't know how to explain how each of the seven tenses making up the future tense system are formed and used (or even that there are seven variations!). For the average person; there is one future tense and that's all there is to know. If you want to know more (or plan on teaching English) then knowledge of each of the seven minor tenses that make up the past tense is required. The seven future tenses are: present simple, present continuous, BGI, future simple, future continuous, future perfect and future perfect continuous.

This simple guide will tell you everything you need to know about the fifth of the future tenses, the future continuous tense.

When is the future continuous tense used?

The future continuous tense is used when:

- Referring to something that will happen or be in progress at a particular moment in the future e.g.

He will be performing here next week; I will be going to the doctor on Wednesday; This time next week, I will be in Spain

- Making predictions about the present moment e.g.

She will probably be trying on clothes in that store she likes so much; He will be sleeping now

- Asking about other people's plans e.g.

Will you be learning English?; Will you be staying for long? Will you be competing?

How is the future continuous tense formed?

Tenses have three variations: Affirmative, Negative and Question

Note: The present participle is the "ing" form of a verb. The question form of this tense asks questions that have yes or no answers.

-Affirmative: Subject + will + be + present participle

I will be taking part; He will be leaving for England; They will be arriving soon

-Negative: Subject + will + not + be + present participle

I won't be taking part; He will not be leaving for England; They will not be arriving soon

- Question: Will + subject + be + present participle

Will I be taking part?; Will he be leaving for England?; Will they be arriving soon?

Contracted Forms

Contracted forms are often used in the English language, and are usually seen as more natural (particularly in spoken English). The subject + will phrase (affirmative form) as well as "will not" (negative form) can be shortened (contracted). The contracted forms are as follows:

I will = I'll

He will = He'll

She will = She'll

It will = It'll

They will = They'll

We will = We'll

Notice that all of the contracted forms are formed by adding the subject + an apostrophe + will minus the first two letters.

Will not = Won't

There is no rule for the formation of "won't" – it's just needs to be remembered that this is the contracted form of "will not".

Note: Sentences are still corrected even if the contracted form is not used, so it is best to learn the rules, formations and uses of the different tenses properly and to not worry about contracted forms. These can be learnt later as a student becomes more comfortable with the language.

Keep it simple

It may seem that there is no simple way of learning the English tense system, but by taking one minor tense at a time and practicing its formation and different uses, one will find that the tense system can be learnt fairly quickly. Knowledge of parts of speech and the rules to form each tense is important in the beginning, and once these are fully remembered, practice will see the entire system becoming much easier to understand and use naturally and correctly.