What’s the difference between the present progressive tense are buying and the simple future tense will buy as used here?

  • Next week we are buying a new car.
  • Next week we will buy a new car.

"We are buying a new car next week" means that you decided to buy it some time ago and you have arranged everything for that (made an appointment at the car lot, took a day off to go there, arranged with your wife of brother to accompany you, etc.). The Present Continuous in this sentence means not just plans but arrangements. 95% that it will happen.

If you say "We will buy a new car next week" that means that you only have such an intention. You did not do anything yet, you're just thinking it over. 50% that it will happen.


I think the difference is mainly in tense. "are buying" is present tense, as in you are definitely buying the car, it's been decided and you're, in fact, at the car lot writing out the check for payment. "will buy" implies a future purchase, one that you've decided on, but you're not at the car lot with your checkbook yet.

  • 1
    Saying that you are buying a new card next week is also talking about an event in the future, just as the epistemic use of the modal auxiliary is. The difference is far more subtle here: both are future uses.
    – tchrist
    Jan 10 '17 at 15:06
  • i still dont understand, maybe im too stupid xD
    – Nikol Lakin
    Jan 10 '17 at 15:09
  • As Marina suggests, buying is a continuous process; partly why only crook-and-cop slang speaks of 'buys’ happening at specifics times. Both examples say ‘we have decided to buy…’ but the decision is not part of the process itself. "We are buying…” provides the extra meaning that beyond taking the decision, we have already accomplished some of the steps in Marina’s list. The process itself is already happening now. "We will buy…” means nothing more than taking the decision has yet been accomplished. The process itself is still wholly in the future. More… Jan 23 '17 at 21:20
  • … further, I think the suggested percentages have no place there. Of course in either case there’s a chance that something will go wrong but the statements take account only of intentions; not the probability that they will be fulfilled. Jan 23 '17 at 21:20

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