At a check-out counter of a grocery store?

The cashier:

(1)How are you paying? by card or in cash?

(2)How will you be paying?by card or in cash?

People tell me that (2) with future continuous is more polite than (1) with present continuous for future. Is it right?

I would like to ask why (2) is more polite than (1) in asking someone about something in the future ?

  • 4
    The distinction is far too fine for any but the most scrupulous to notice. The tone of voice would be far more important. Having said which, will you sounds fractionally more polite. It's an idiomatic way of phrasing a question respectfully in such contexts. Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 16:53
  • 1
    There might be cultural aspects. That is, different places might think one was polite and the other less so, with either being considered the polite one. And indeed, it might even be different from one cashier to the next at the same store.
    – Boba Fit
    Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 17:06

1 Answer 1


The only danger (from a politeness point of view), is that the person being asked might take it as a question of whether or not the could pay. That would be very unlikely, though, unless the question was spoken, and the tone of voice was sarcastic.

To avoid any possibility of such a misunderstanding, you could say:

"will you be using card or cash?"

By omitting 'how' and 'paying', it lessens the already unlikely possibility of offence.

  • How about this sentence: "Are you going to use card or cash?" This sentence have the same politeness level as " "will you be using card or cash?" Right?
    – LE123
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 3:43

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