"There she is!" said Corley.
At the corner of Hume Street a young woman was standing. She wore a blue dress and a white sailor hat. She stood on the curbstone, swinging a sunshade in one hand. Lenehan grew lively.
"Let's have a look at her, Corley," he said.
Corley glanced sideways at his friend and an unpleasant grin appeared on his face.
"Are you trying to get inside me?" he asked.
"Damn it!" said Lenehan boldly, "I don't want an introduction. All I want is to have a look at her. I'm not going to eat her."
"O... A look at her?" said Corley, more amiably. "Well... I'll tell you what. I'll go over and talk to her and you can pass by."
"Right!" said Lenehan.
Corley had already thrown one leg over the chains when Lenehan called out:
"And after? Where will we meet?"
"Half ten," answered Corley, bringing over his other leg.
"Corner of Merrion Street. We'll be coming back."
"Work it all right now," said Lenehan in farewell.
(James Joyce, Dubliners)

It seem that we’ll coming back is more probable and near than we’ll come back in the respect of the remark’s fulfillment. And we’ll be coming back relives the vagueness whether it implies future or continuous present, when he says we are coming back instead. Is this what the sentence meaning?

  • Was it intentional that you wrote “we'll coming back” without be twice? That doesn't appear in the quote and it isn't grammatical English. Aug 30, 2013 at 8:29

3 Answers 3


"We'll be coming back" refers to the proposed meeting at "half ten" (9:30) and says what the speaker expects to be doing at that time. (Future progressive tense.)

"We'll come back" states their return as a fact, and nothing else. You might use this if you don't know when or how you'll come back. (Simple future tense)

"We're coming back" is only slightly different from "we'll come back" in this context, but it makes it clear that there is a plan. (Present progressive tense) It treats the trip out and back as a single continuous action which is already in progress.

"*We'll coming back" is not English. Don't say this.

  • Not related to the OP, but it needs saying: "half ten" is 10:30, not 9:30.
    – Rosie F
    Mar 2, 2018 at 16:12

No, the author is correct. "We will be coming back" is the future imperfect (I think). "We will coming back" doesn't make sense. "We will come back" is the future tense, but the imperfect form correctly describes that the "coming back" will be something that happens over a period of time, not for one instant. I'd be happy for any one to correct my interpretation of the two tenses. Interestingly in your last sentence you have made the same mistake "is this what the sentence meaning" you should have put an "is" before meaning.

  • This is bad advice. "Is this what the sentence is meaning" is not valid English at all. Nor does this example have anything to do with perfect or imperfect forms. Aug 31, 2013 at 19:54

"We'll coming back" is not a possible construction in English. It is not grammatical. "We'll" is the contraction of "we will," and so "we'll coming back" is short for "we will coming back." When you look at it this way, I hope you can see that it makes no sense. There is no tense structure that allows "will coming."

So when I look at your original question, I have to wonder what you think "we'll coming back" actually means. What is it you think "we'll coming back" would say? It shouldn't be something you think should be substituted in place of "we'll be coming back," unless you think it has some other, valid meaning, so what is that other meaning you are thinking of?

Now, "we'll be coming back" is a correct structure. I am going to expand this little phrase, in order to help you grasp what the sense and meaning of the whole sentence is: We will be (in the process of) coming back (from the place we were before). Do you see now why "we'll be coming back" is exactly right, and is exactly what Joyce meant to say?

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