Sign up ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What's the difference between:

I will be eating cakes tomorrow.
I will eat cakes tomorrow.

And, when should I use the first form?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Both of these refer to the future, and both are correct and can be used in any situation. However, there is a slight difference between "will be" and "will".

The simple form is as it suggests referring simply to what happens next but the continuous indicates or suggests a picture of activity in the future.

For example,:

I will walk home.


I will be walking home.

Both refer to walking home in the future, but the first statement is used when referring to the next thing you are going to do i.e. during after school, while the second statement can be used anytime from the day before to just before going to school.

Also, there are instances when one or the other can not be used. For example,

I will be good.

but not

*I will good.

The second example is incorrect
Because "will" is only a modal verb, it needs another verb, otherwise the sentence is incomplete. There are instances when "will be" has to be used, and "will" can't be used.

share|improve this answer
Erm, please clarify on your last example. I always thought, that I will be good is a will do template from OP's question, and I will good is incorrect. Am I wrong? – Philoto Jun 2 '11 at 8:02
You are right, the last example is showing "will" can't be used in this instance. It would be incorrect. – Thursagen Jun 2 '11 at 8:21
The distinction arises because "good" is a noun. The "will <verb?" construction won't work for nouns. – Christi Jun 2 '11 at 8:45
Thanks! Do you mind if I put that in my answer? – Thursagen Jun 2 '11 at 8:46
@third idiot Yes, I blame lack of coffee. – Christi Jun 2 '11 at 9:32

"I will eat cakes" is more about the act; "I will be eating cakes" is more about being in the state of "eating cakes". Consider "I will drive home tomorrow" (yay, I'm going home) versus "I will be driving home tomorrow" (so that would be a bad time for you to call me on my cell phone).

share|improve this answer
Note that the common African-American dialect has a version of be that works just like this pair for present tense ("he be eating cakes" vs. "he is eating cakes"). The two forms have the same distinction you mention. I just love that construction, but sadly can't use it when speaking outside that community. – T.E.D. Jun 2 '11 at 13:35

The first form is used when it is relevant that the action will occur at the same time as some other action. For example:

Don't bother calling after 9; I'll be sleeping.

share|improve this answer
Shouldn't that be "I'll be asleep"??? – teylyn Jun 2 '11 at 10:11
@teylyn: "I'll be sleeping" is fine. It sems to be almost identical here. – Mitch Jun 2 '11 at 13:28

There's an old American children's song that might help to highlight the distinction: "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain".

She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes).

She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes).

She'll be coming 'round the mountain, she'll be coming 'round the mountain,

She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes).

And the best part? We'll be havin' chicken and dumplings.

share|improve this answer

protected by tchrist Mar 1 at 19:07

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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