Could you let me know why future continuous is used in this sentence:

You will be receiving an invoice from Thomas in a few days.

Is it because it relates to a routine, or is it because of the duration (in a few days), or is it because the man who wrote the email is a different person (neither Thomas nor the man who will receive the email) and his willingness cannot influence Thomas' action meaning maybe Thomas can forget….

1 Answer 1


There is no difference in meaning here between will receive and will be receiving, and nothing in the context which requires one other than the other.

What is involved here is that (at least in the US—it may be otherwise in ‘Anglo’ Englishes) ordinary conversation has taken a dislike to will VERB: it is felt to be rather stiff and bureaucratic, perhaps because it is the form ordinarily used in official communications. The version with the progressive is ever-so-slightly softer and friendlier—not fully conversational (which would be something like you'll be getting), but a little more casual.

  • I suppose "stiff and bureaucratic" is one way of justifying the (more preferred?) usage by running down the alternative. Another reason might be that "future continuous" (often interchangeable with present continuous, as in "He's coming to see me tomorrow" / "He'll be coming to see me tomorrow") seems to imply a closer connection to the present moment. So the overall tone is a bit more "here & now, immediately relevant", with (concomitant?) connotations of "casual, intimate, friendly, relaxed, reassuring". Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 18:25
  • @FumbleFingers I think the US Army may have created an antipathy for the simple will future during WW II. My father remarked that spoken announcements, including those over base-wide sound systems, were always made with a strongly stressed will, regardless of subject: "Company C WILL assemble on the parade ground at 1100 hours", "There WILL be a showing of Road to Zanzibar at 1800 hours", which gave will VERB a sense of command. Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 19:16

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