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Future continuous and future perfect

Do you know how to use phrases like I'll be studying or I'll have finished?

Look at these examples to see how the future continuous and future perfect are used.

In three years' time, I'll be studying medicine.
In five years' time, I'll have finished studying medicine.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Future continuous and future perfect: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

Future continuous

We can use the future continuous (will/won't be + -ing form) to talk about future actions that: 

  • will be in progress at a specific time in the future:

When you come out of school tomorrow, I'll be boarding a plane.
Try to call before 8 o'clock. After that, we'll be watching the match.
You can visit us during the first week of July. I won't be working then.

  • we see as new, different or temporary:

Today we're taking the bus but next week we'll be taking the train.
He'll be staying with his parents for several months while his father is in recovery.
Will you be starting work earlier with your new job?

Future perfect

We use the future perfect simple (will/won't have + past participle) to talk about something that will be completed before a specific time in the future.

The guests are coming at 8 p.m. I'll have finished cooking by then.
On 9 October we'll have been married for 50 years.
Will you have gone to bed when I get back?

We can use phrases like by or by the time (meaning 'at some point before') and in or in a day's time / in two months' time / in five years' time etc. (meaning 'at the end of this period') to give the time period in which the action will be completed.

I won't have written all the reports by next week.
By the time we arrive, the kids will have gone to bed.
I'll have finished in an hour and then we can watch a film.
In three years' time, I'll have graduated from university.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Future continuous and future perfect: Grammar test 2

Language level

Intermediate: B1
Upper intermediate: B2

Comments

The show has lost traction with views and will not be returning for another season.

Could I say "will not return?

Thanks so much.

I would like to ask why the future continuous tense is used in the following sentence. Could I use the simple future tense instead?

"Some very attractive properties will be coming onto the market next month."

Hello AsahiYo20,

The future continuous is used here to express the speaker's expectation. It is a prediction about the future based upon what the speaker knows, similar to going to.

While going to would express a future based upon present evidence, the future continuous expresses an expectation based upon the speaker's knowledge and experience.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi teacher,

Thank you for your detailed reply! I would like to ask a number of follow-up questions

1. According to a grammar book I have read, "will" is used for predictions that are talking about how our opinions/experience, while "be going to" is more about predictions on the basis of present evidence. Could I simply say the distinction is one between subjective evidence (for "will") and objective evidence (for "be going to")?

2. You said the future continuous expresses an expectation based upon the speaker's knowledge and experience. Does that mean the future continuous tense has the meaning as the simple future tense when it comes to prediction, and that I could use the latter in the sentence I have quoted?

3. I have a feeling that in the case of prediction, the degree of conviction conveyed by the simple future tense is higher than the future continuous tense. Is it a correct distinction?

Hi again AshahiYo20,

It's important to remember that the use of future forms in English is very nuanced and often dependent on the speaker's perspective rather than objective facts in the world. Attempts to tie usage down to very specific situations or elements of meaning tend to fall afoul of this. However, it is useful to identify certain tendencies.

 

1. I think this is accurate to a degree, though I'm not sure the distinction between subjective and objective evidence is necessarily one which is clear and unambiguous.

2. Yes, you could use will + verb here. It would indicate a greater degree of certainty, in my opinion.

3. Yes, I think this is true.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi
Can you please explain this sentence from content.
On 9 October we'll have been married for 50 years. Isn't this sentence is future perfect passive voice ? We can't say it is future perfect tense , it should be labelled as future perfect passive. isn't it so?

Hi saher,

Actually, it is the future perfect (of the verb 'be'), but it's not the passive voice. In this sentence, 'married' would usually be classified as an adjective – not a passive verb. These two forms look the same, but here's the difference:

- 'be' + 'married' (adjective) means the state of being married (rather than not married).
- 'be' + 'married' ('marry' in the passive voice) means receiving the act of marriage (in an official ceremony, for example).

This second meaning doesn't fit the example sentence, because of 'for 50 years'. The length of time refers to the state of being married rather than the act of being married.

Best wishes,

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

Could you please explain the use of the future continuous tense in the following two sentences? In particular, whether I could use simple future tense instead?

1. Could you ascertain whether she will be coming to the meeting?
2. We will be forwarding our new catalogue to you next week.

Thanks!

Hello cms10,

You could use [will verb] in each of those sentences.

 

The form [will be verb-ing] has several uses. It is often used to describe an arrangement which has not yet been made but is sure. It can help to compare it to the present continuous:

We are forwarding our new catalogue to you next week. [the procedure to do this has already started]

We will be forwarding our new catalogue to you next week. [the procedure to do this has not started but is sure to]

The difference between [will verb] and [will be verb-ing] is often one of nuance and emphasis rather than objective fact.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your reply. I have two additional questions:

1. You said the difference between [will] [will be -ing] is often one of nuance and emphasis. Am I correct to say that [will be -ing] makes a sentence less definite (or in other words, tentative) compared with [will]?

2. I read from a grammar book that the present continuous tense can be used to describe an event in the future which has already been arranged by the time of speaking. Am I correct to say that the difference between the present continuous tense and future continuous tense lies in whether arrangements regarding the future event has been made?

Thanks.

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