Does the Future Continuous create the idea of a planned action as well as the Present Continuous does?

If I say "I am seeing Jim tomorrow." I think it means that I have arranged it.

It's also OK to say "I will be seeing Jim tomorrow." Does it mean that the action has been planned?

On the other hand, I could say "I think I will see Jim tomorrow."

So, is it planned or spontaneous? If it's planned, how does it differ from the Present Continuous?

  • "I think I will see Jim tomorrow" could mean I expect to see him (simply because I know or think he will be at the same place as me, so our paths may well cross). Or it could mean I have [just] [tentatively] decided that I will seek him out. As ever, context is all. Jul 30, 2013 at 1:49

2 Answers 2


Like words, grammatical constructions often have overlapping meaning -synonymy- in some contexts but entirely different meanings in others.

In this particular context there is no significant difference between the constructions. Both contrast with the "simple future" I will see Jim tomorrow. The simple construction announces an intention of meeting, the two progressive (continuous) constructions add to this the implication that the meeting has already been scheduled.

To find a difference in meaning you have to look at other contexts. For instance, these two mean quite different things:

  1. I am seeing Jim from time to time.
  2. I will be seeing Jim from time to time.

The first describes a current arrangement which may or may not be expected to continue into the future; the second describes a future arrangement which may or may not have started already.


Ditto StoneyB.

Let me add that whether any of your examples conveys planning or intention depends on context. Grammatically, I would say that they convey expectation.

For example, "I am being shot at sunrise tomorrow." I probably didn't plan that. I suppose someone planned it.

"The sun will be rising at 6:52 am." I don't think anyone particularly "planned" that, that's just how it is. Unless you're thinking in terms of God planning it.

  • 1
    Yes, but to my mind there would be something decidedly odd about saying "The sun is rising at 6:52 am tomorrow." It seems to me that explicit future tense will be rising works for "passive expectation", but (grammatically, at least) present tense is rising implies intention on the part of the sun. Which is why it sounds weird. Jul 30, 2013 at 1:44
  • But I have often heard people say, "Sunrise tomorrow is at 6:52 am" (or whatever time). That never sounded odd to me.
    – Jay
    Jul 30, 2013 at 13:50
  • 1
    I think that's a significantly different construction (equivalent to perhaps Sunrise happens tomorrow at 6:52), which conveys no implication of "intentionality" on the part of "sunrise". Jul 30, 2013 at 16:07

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