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I was wondering the difference between 'How will you pay?', 'How will you be paying',

Somebody told me as follows,

How will you pay? - talks more about the ability to pay, can you pay for this
How will you be paying? - what you will be using to pay like cash, credit card, etc.

Now, I am wondering, what's the difference between

How long will you stay?
How long will you be staying?

  • Both mean the same exact thing. – user19874 Jan 26 '16 at 7:55
  • "How will you pay" can easily work in the second case as well, but because the second option is perceived as more polite, I think most customer service professionals lean towards it to be safe. Incidentally, if I want to question someone's ability to pay, I will ask "How are you going to pay for that?", which is probably the most impolite way to phrase the question (as it is an impolite question to begin with). The same goes for "How long are you going to stay?" This question would likely make a guest uncomfortable (but might get the hint across). – Adam Starrh Jan 26 '16 at 9:50
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In my own idiolect for sure, and I think also in my dialect, the two would be used in different contexts:

How long will you stay there?

How long will you be staying here?

If someone told me about a trip they intended to take to Europe, I might ask "How long will you stay?"

If someone from Europe had come to my town to visit family, I might ask "How long will you be staying?"

This is not a rigid distinction by any means, but a matter of frequency. I could also ask "How long will you be staying there?" but I wouldn't ask "How long will you stay here?" but "How long are you going to stay here?"

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How long will you stay?

is an informal way of asking

How long will you be staying?

which is more formal and polite. You would probably hear the latter asked at the registration desk of a hotel. The latter also has a slightly less sense of asking for certainty than the former since the listener may not know the answer themselves (thus more polite)

  • In terms of etiquette, is probably only worth worrying about when you are speaking to your own guest. – Adam Starrh Jan 26 '16 at 9:45
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No difference in meaning as far as you are making an enquiry; you can use either the future simple or the future continuous.

But, to be more polite, it's better to use the latter (the future continuous).

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