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Interactive video lesson plan for: BBC English Masterclass: Uses of the future continuous

Activity overview:

You may know that we use the future continuous to talk about an event in progress at a specific time in the future, but there's more to it than that. Dan will be helping you understand some other uses of the future continuous, with the help of his friend, Captain Dan.
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Hi guys. Dan for BBC Learning English here. In this Masterclass we’ll be looking at natural uses for the future continuous. Now, as you can see, it's a beautiful day in London, the sun is shining. Oo the sun is shining, sunshine, holidays! That gives me an idea.

''Ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain Dan speaking. Welcome aboard BBC Airlines flight Learning English, non-stop service to English fluency. Our flight time will be approximately two to three minutes. We will be flying at an altitude of zero feet at a ground speed of 160 words per minute. We will be showing our safety demonstration and, following that, flight attendants will be circulating around the cabin to offer you refreshments. So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.''

Have you ever flown on an aeroplane? If you have, you might have heard an announcement just like that one. You may have noticed that when the captain makes his announcement, he uses a lot of the future continuous. Why?

Well, the future continuous can be used to talk about an activity that will be in progress at a specific future time. For example, at four o'clock tomorrow I’ll be lying here again. However, our captain friend didn’t mention any specific future times. So why does he use the future continuous? Let’s let him explain.

''Well, in addition to the use mentioned above, the future continuous can be used to talk about a future event that will happen in the normal course of things. This means the action is certain to happen without any effort or decision being made by the speaker. I use the future continuous because I want to make my passengers relax. We will be flying at 50,000 feet means this will happen anyway and is normal or routine, so sit down, relax, everything is fine!''

Thanks Captain. Now, consider other examples:

'I’m sorry you missed the bus, but I can give you a lift since I’ll be going into town anyway to do the shopping.'

Or, 'Give me John’s birthday present and I’ll give it to him for you, since I’ll be seeing him at work on Monday.'

Now, because of this use, we can also use the future continuous to politely enquire about a person’s plans for the future. 'Are you going to come to dinner?' could be taken in a way meaning I am pushing you for a decision – almost like I’ve got to have an answer. But, 'will you be coming to dinner?' implies that I simply want to know about your future plans and there’s no pressure from me one way or another. In this usage, we can also bend the rules about state verbs being used in the continuous form – so we can ask questions like, will you be wanting dinner?

Did you get it? Good.

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