I have been trying to understand how to detect subject and predicate in a sentence. So, I stumbled on this page.

The following example was given:

Jim will be waiting for you at the mall.

In the answers, "will be waiting" is identified as a verb.

I was surprised because to me, "will be" could have been replaced by "is" but here it's used to correct that the "is" in "is waiting" is on the progress. On a second thought, I couldn't really identify which one is the verb again, since "will be" seems to serve as an adverb.

My questions:

  1. Can "will be waiting' considered a verb in this case?
  2. What is the function of "will be"? and what is the function of "will" in "will be"?

3 Answers 3


The construction will be waiting represents the future progressive of the verb wait.

The present progressive is constructed with the inflected form of the verb be + the present participle (or active participle, or -ING form) of the lexical verb:

I am waiting for you at the mall.
Jim is waiting for you at the mall.

The ordinary future is constructed with will + the unmarked infinitive (plain form) of the lexical verb:

I will wait for you at the mall.
Jim will wait for you at the mall.

To cast the progressive form into the future, you employ will, as in the ordinary future; you change the inflected form of be into the unmarked infinitive form; and you conclude with the present participle of the lexical verb, as in the present progressive:

I will be waiting for you at the mall.
Jim will be waiting for you at the mall.

  • Great, it's difficult to decide between your answer and Barrie's answers but this one provides a better explanation of verb tenses and thus what's happening in this case... thanks Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 9:39
  • Just in case this helps someone else... englishpage.com/verbpage/verbtenseintro.html Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 9:41

Will be waiting is a verb phrase. It is, obviously enough, made up of the modal verb will + be + the ‘-ing’ form of the verb wait. It is an example of the future progressive construction, used, in the words of the ‘Cambridge Grammar of English’, to describe ‘an ongoing process at the point in the future the speaker is referring to’. It is sometimes used to suggest that a future event has not been specially planned.


'will' is a future term.

In the present tense, Jim is waiting, meaning he is now at the mall. "will be' can mean anything from an hour ahead, to next week, 'Jim will be waiting on Sunday.'

  • eh, IMO. When one says 'will be waiting' I think they're simply saying they'll surely get there before you. Second, I was kinda asking for the 'grammatical function'... Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 7:38
  • 1
    There's a tendency to restrict the concept of 'parts of speech' to orthographic words (ie strings found in a dictionary and written with a white space at each end). This gets messy when the equivalents 'particleboard' and 'particle board' (to say nothing of 'particle-board') have to be labelled a single word, two words, and a hyphenated word, but are agreed to be a 'compound noun'. Similarly, verbs once labelled 'phrasal verbs' and 'particle verbs' (by some) behave more like single words: He took off (= impersonated) Tony Blair. 'Multi-word verbs' (MWVs) is used by some nowadays ... Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 9:18
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    ... In English, the usual way to indicate the time a verb's action etc takes / took place is by using auxiliaries (He sings / he is singing / he did sing / he was singing / he will sing ...). The 'ongoingness' can also be indicated by the correct choice of auxiliary. Using a modal in a similar construction indicates moral obligation, permission or ability to perform etc: He should go, he may go, he can go ... These verb constructions are sometimes just called verbs, sometimes (as Barrie says) verb phrases. Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 9:19
  • Yeah, great input. MWVs?? Hmmm, thanks.. will check that out. Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 9:43
  • The best overview of MWVs I've come across is by Claudia Claridge (large extracts at books.google.co.uk/… ). Don't be put off by the 'Early Modern English' in the title - most chapters seem very up-to-date. Terminology varies horrendously, but Claridge deals with that. Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 10:21

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