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Consider these two sentences:

  • It will be storming all day tomorrow, we need to go shopping tonight.
  • It will storm all day tomorrow, we need to go shopping tonight.

The difference being "will be storming" and "will storm".

What exactly is the difference between these two sentences? Could they possibly mean something different (even if slightly)? If they are different, when to use each one?

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There are some contexts where only one will do. It's normal to say "You will regret it tomorrow", not "You will be regretting it tomorrow". But with "existential it" and something that lasts "all day", there's no possible difference. Even if someone says they use them differently, no-one else would know what they meant. –  FumbleFingers Oct 27 '12 at 0:30
    
@FumbleFingers: "will be regretting" turns up many hits on Google Books. –  Noah Oct 27 '12 at 2:52
    
@Noah: That's as may be, but given 97,800 hits for "will regret it", and just 23 for "will be regretting it", I think it's pretty obvious which one is "normal". Not that native speakers would need to see the figures to know that. –  FumbleFingers Oct 27 '12 at 3:48
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3 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

This is a question about the difference between expressing the future by using will + the plain form of the verb, and expressing it by using will + be + the -ing form of the verb (the progressive form). To show the difference, it’s first necessary to adjust the examples a little:

As it will be raining all day tomorrow, we need to go shopping tonight.

As it will rain all day tomorrow, we need to go shopping tonight.

The first is much more likely to be what a native speaker would say. It emphasises the continuous nature of the rain suggested by the adverbial all day. In fact, in this context the second version with will would hardly ever be used. If the weather forecast is for rain, but not necessarily for prolonged rain, a speaker might say As it’s going to rain tomorrow . . .

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Note: you used a comma splice. This should be two separate sentences unless you use a conjunction.

It will be storming all day tomorrow. We need to go shopping tonight.

This is passive voice.

It will storm all day tomorrow. We need to go shopping tonight.

This is active voice.

Both are technically correct, but active voice is often preferred in writing to give a sentence more action. Passive voice puts the action in the background of the mental picture. Other than that, the meaning is the same.

I was a bit mixed up when I posted this, and active/passive voice does not apply in the situation. The difference is that will storm implies an action that will happen once, while will be storming implies a continuous action that will take place over a time interval. This difference no longer exists when you add all day to the sentence.

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I'm no expert on terminology, but I don't believe a word of this active/passive voice stuff. –  FumbleFingers Oct 27 '12 at 0:32
    
The last paragraph has things backward. –  MετάEd Oct 27 '12 at 3:04
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Both your sentences refer to the same real-world event, so in that way they are the same. What changes is your attitude to that real-world event.

It will storm tomorrow is essentially a statement of fact. You are giving information. I find it helps to think of this as looking at the 'outside' of the event.

It will be storming tomorrow is concerned with the sequence of events between the beginning and the end of the storm - this is looking at the 'inside' of the event.

Change the event to 'going to work on Sunday'...

Speaking to your boss, you would probably say "I will work on Sunday". All he wants is the information, that fact that you will be there.

Speaking to your friends, who want to know if you can join them for a game of cricket, you would probably say "I will be working on Sunday", because the sequence of events between starting work and finishing work mean that you have no time to play cricket.

Same event; different aspect.

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