When she goes to Mexico, she will be visiting Chichen Itza.

When she goes to Mexico, she will visit Chichen Itza.

Is there a particular difference in meaning, or it is just the matter of style?


As other answers have indicated, the future progressive, as the term implies, can place emphasis on the ongoing nature of the future event. In such contexts the future simple is not correct:

This time tomorrow I'll be lying (*I'll lie) on the beach.

Sorry, I won't be able to make it. I'll be playing (*I'll play) tennis with Mike.

However, this is not the only use of the future progressive. It is often used when there is no particular focus on the ongoing nature of the future event:

You'll be hearing from my lawyer.

She'll be starting school soon, won't she?

In such cases, the future simple is also possible:

You'll hear from my lawyer.

She'll start school soon, won't she?

although, to my ears at least, these are very slightly less natural.

Now we come to the OP's examples, both of which are perfectly normal ways to tell someone of your friend's holiday plans.

There is possibly one small semantic difference, however. Namely, that the progressive form could carry with it the implication that the visit is part of an arrangement, whereas the future simple is a simple statement of fact. As such the future progressive parallels the use of the present progressive to express arranged future events:

I'm playing tennis with Mike tomorrow.

I'm visiting my grandparents at the weekend.

She's visiting Chichen Itza next week.

But in Fumblefinger's term, this is "armchair rationalisation", a process that no native speaker consciously goes through in advance of what they say in day-to-day conversation.

In summary, the OP's two sentences are virtually equivalent, but there are other contexts where only the future continuous is possible, or where it may sound a little more natural than the future simple.

| improve this answer | |

Both the sentences have a similar meaning,but the first sentence emphasize on continuation of action.

*Basically, both tenses tell you that the action will happen in the future.

If you simply want to state that the action will happen in the future ? you can use the simple future. This tense gives no other data than the time --> Future.

The future progressive, however, tells you two things. 1) It tells you the time of the action --> Future 2) It tells you that the action will be IN PROGRESS.*

In conclusion, if you would like to say that the action will happen ? you can use the simple future tense.

If you would like to say that the action will happen, and you want to emphasize that it will be in progress at some time ? you can use the future progressive tense.

Please refer this link for detailed information..

| improve this answer | |
  • In your third paragraph, I think you mean "you can use the simple future". – Jay Jun 28 '13 at 19:15
  • @Jay Yes I mean it.. – Naren Jun 29 '13 at 5:56
  • In the third paragraph you still state: "... you can use the simple present. This tense gives no other data than the time... (etc.)" – Mari-Lou A Jul 16 '13 at 19:53
  • @ Naren: Okay - I've deleted my comment, since it's now obsolete. If you're able to delete your comment, you should probably do so (if not, flag it so a mod can do this for you). If/when I notice you've done so, and if the mod hasn't deleted this latest comment of mine, I'll do the same. (It's no big deal, but they do like us to keep things tidy! ) – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jul 17 '13 at 14:31

To all intents and purposes, it's just a stylistic choice. I should also say that some speakers in some contexts might also just use Simple Present throughout...

When she goes to Mexico, she visits Chichen Itza.

...although it's worth noting that both this version and OP's second can also be used of habitual actions (i.e. - she often goes to Mexico, and whenever she does, she usually visits Chichen Itza).

| improve this answer | |

Both sentences express an action in the future, and both meanings are virtually identical, however, there are some subtle differences.

When she goes to Mexico, she will be visiting Chichen Itza [taking photos, listening to the guides, climbing the pyramids, soaking up the atmosphere, etc.]

In this sentence I understand the tourist is going to visit Mexico and will spend some time touring the city of Chichen Itza. It implies the action will last a certain amount of time, perhaps a whole day or even a couple. The length of time is not specified, but the speaker's focus is on the action of visiting.

When she goes to Mexico, she will visit Chichen Itza [followed by an excursion to Park Ik Kil,.. etc.]

In this sentence the intention to visit to Chichen Itza may or may not take a day. The duration of the visit appears to be shorter than the previous statement. Again we do not know for certain but the impression is the city is included in the itinerary of Mexico but it is not the main focus.

| improve this answer | |
  • I think this distinction owes more to "armchair rationalisation" than to familiarity with what native speakers actually say and mean. There's nothing particularly unusual about When she goes to Mexico, she will be visiting Chichen Itza briefly, before taking up her position as the new Chief Executive at Park Ik Kil, for example. Or indeed When she goes to Mexico, she will visit Chichen Itza, where she hopes to find suitable accommodation so she can stay for several days and really get the feel of the place. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jul 16 '13 at 21:29
  • True, but then context is everything and I did add the extra bits to illustrate my point further. I was aware of the risks when I set forth; however, I did say the differences were subtle and I'm sticking to my idea (I accept it is a subjective) that the future progressive implies a greater focus on the activity then the future simple. – Mari-Lou A Jul 16 '13 at 21:35
  • I simply don't believe that any such distinction exists in the minds of ordinary native speakers. It might "make sense" to you, but really all that means is you might choose which form to use based on this principle. Someone else might make the opposite choice based on different reasoning, or simply because they randomly chose one of two forms which they consider semantically identical in their specific context. I think it makes language acquisition more difficult if we invite learners to take on board spurious/negligible distinctions that native speakers themselves don't [commonly] make. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jul 16 '13 at 21:44
  • So is there no difference between a) They've been arguing with each other, and now Tom's trying to make up (and) b) They've argued and now Tom's trying to make up. Surely the emphasis shifts in the sentences. Well, that's my impression at least. – Mari-Lou A Jul 16 '13 at 21:54
  • @ Mari-Lou: I don't really see that either. Present Perfect is probably a more likely choice there simply because it reflects the relevance of the past action to the present moment. But it's not directly relevant to the choice of tense in OP's examples. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jul 16 '13 at 22:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.