simple vs continuous future

raisingfink   Friday, February 13, 2004, 07:07 GMT
I hope you can help me with this sentence - "We will be arriving next month". I don't see anything wrong with it, but my student insisted that "next month" is too long a time to be saying "...will be arriving.." I've always felt using the simple future sounds more like a promise as opposed to continuous future which sounds a bit like "...should be arriving.." or more like a plan. I dunno. What do you think?
Lou   Friday, February 13, 2004, 07:44 GMT
Just checked up in one of my grammar books, and the information is that 'will be -ing is similar to the present continuous for future arrangements. So, in that case, it's possible to say: We are arriving next month. OR We will be arriving next month. I personally would choose - We will be arriving next month.

Another source has the information: The future progressive can be used to say that an action will be in progress at a particular moment in the future. It's often used to suggest that something in the future has already been fixed or decided.

There is no mention of how far in the future something will be.

Hope this helps
raisingfink   Friday, February 13, 2004, 08:29 GMT
Yes it does. Thank you.
Jacob   Friday, February 13, 2004, 11:49 GMT
Any of the following would be fine, and they're all equivalent:

We arrive next month.
We will arrive next month.
We are arriving next month.
We will be arriving next month.

In English as in many languages, if there's a time phrase (like "next month") that indicates the future we often just use the present tense of the verb.

I think, to address your student's concern, "will be arriving next month" doesn't mean that the process of arrival stretches all the way across the coming month. It means that, sometime in the next month, you'll start the process of arrival.
Ryan   Friday, February 13, 2004, 18:43 GMT
Yes, it depends on whether you consider "arriving" a continuous, drawn-out process, like playing, or whether you consider it an instantaneous action. I don't think there is a consensus about which it is, although I'm sure the professional grammarians have an opinion about the matter.

I don't think "We are arriving next month" sounds as correct as the versions that use a future tense of the verb, though, although it won't be regarded funny in colloquial speech, at least in the US.
Lou   Friday, February 13, 2004, 21:35 GMT
Present simple:

We arrive next month.
Present simple is used with a future meaning when talking about timetables or starting times.
The train leaves at eight.
The film starts at six-thirty.

Future simple:
'When we talk about events in the future that we expect to happen but that are not in our control, we can use will or be going to.
Ann will be (or is going to be) 12 next month.'

When we talk about events in the future that are in our control(i.e. we can decide that will happen), we use will differently from be going to. We use will at the time we decide what to do (spontaneous decision)
Can somebody help me, please?
Yes, I'll help you.

Future simple is also used to talk about things that we think or believe will happen in the future.
I'm sure you'll enjoy the film.

Present continuous:
This tense can be used with a future meaning when we talk about future arrangements - we have made an appointment - we have bought tickets to the theatre - we have bought tickets for the plane and made a reservation for a hotel, etc.
We're having a party at the weekend.
I'm visiting my friend on Saturday afternoon.
They're having breakfast at Mandy's on Saturday morning.

Future continuous:has the meaning of arrangements that have been made for the future.
Bye, we'll see you again next year

is different from

We'll be seeing our daughter next week. This sentence indicates that arrangements have been made.

The material: Grammar Spectrum 1,2, and 3 - very useful for students to find out, not only what building blocks are necessary for each tense, but what situations to use tenses for. In my opinion, this is necessary in learning a language - to find out how it works.

Best wishes
Lou   Saturday, February 14, 2004, 18:07 GMT
A good place to look when you have questions is
Once you are on the site, click the grammar book and when that comes up, choose verb tenses. I like this site for reference.
raisingfink   Tuesday, February 17, 2004, 00:06 GMT
Wow! Thanks for all of your help.