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Dear teachers,
1) Would you please tell me the difference between:

a) WILL you come to the concert tonight?

b) WILL you BE COMING to the concert tonight?
c) ARE you COMING to the concert tonight?
d) ARE you GOING TO COME to the concert tonight?

2) Is it true that the future progressive could be used to express deference

while the future simple is used in a more direct / informal style? If yes, would please give some examples?

3) Would you say :
a) When DOES the play start? OR 

b) When WILL the play start? And why?
Thank you very much in advance for your help.
Hela
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a) WILL you come to the concert tonight? 

b) WILL you BE COMING to the concert tonight?
c) ARE you COMING to the concert tonight?
d) ARE you GOING TO COME to the concert tonight?

Whew! Hard question! These are extremely similar.

a) Is it your intention to come to the concert tonight?
Please come (with me/us) to the concert tonight. (I'm inviting you.)

b) Is it in your plans to attend the concert tonight?
Will I see you at the concert tonight?
Have you decided whether you are coming with me/us to the concert tonight?

c) Are you going to be at the concert tonight?

d) Are you planning to come to the concert tonight? (This sounds like little more than a more awkward version of c.)

CJ

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a) When DOES the play start?

b) When WILL the play start?

Strange as it may seem, these are the first thoughts that come to mind.

a)
-- When does the play start?
-- At 8:30.

b)
-- When will the play start?
-- They're only in rehearsals now, so I imagine it won't start until next month some time.

CJ
Thank you very much, CJ. Now is there a degree of formality or politeness that we can express using one tense instead of another in a question?

Best wishes,

Hela
HelaThank you very much, CJ. Now is there a degree of formality or politeness that we can express using one tense instead of another in a question?

Best wishes,

Hela

In general, the "past" tenses are used to convey formality and/or politeness.

Examples:

Could I help you, sir?

Might I suggest the veal, madam?

Did you want to try that jacket? (Can also be used as sarcasm)

Would you like a drink?

I was wondering if you'd like to go to dinner tonight.
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