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Future continuous and future perfect

Do you know how to say what you will be doing or will have done at a specific time in the future?

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


Hello rosario70

If I've understood what you want to say, I'd recommend 'If I had wait another house, I'd have met him.'

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hmm! I'm happy to learn more about future continuous and future perfect. I am used to translate directly my sentences from french to english and some, that sounds weird and no sense. But now, I know when I have to use these tenses during my talking.

What is the difference between the following sentence?

When will you be arriving?
When are you going to arrive?

Hello Montri,
Both sentences describe future time and have similar meanings.
The first sentence ('...will be arriving') describes something that is expected. We use this form to describe things that we see as normal and unsurprising in the future.
The second sentence ('...going to...') describes a person's intention or plan.
You can read more about ways of talking about the future on these pages:
The LearnEnglish Team

Would you ever use 'would' in a future perfect construction? Is there a rule, e.g. By the time I am 30 years old I will have owned a Ferrari. Or would it be: By the time I am 30 years old I would have owned a Ferrari.

Hello Jennief
'would have owned' doesn't work with 'by the time I am' because 'would have owned' refers to an (unreal) imaginary time and 'by the time I am' refers to a (real) future time. You could say, for example, 'I would have owned a Ferrari when I was 30 is I hadn't been sacked.' This refers to an unreal past time, i.e. a past in which you were not sacked.
All the best
The LearnEnglish Team

Is the future perfect correct in this sentence or we must use "will own"?
By the time I am 30 years old I will have owned a Ferrari.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,
Both forms are grammatically possible, but there is a difference in meaning.
If you say 'will own' then it means that when you are 30 the car will be yours. You might buy it when you are 29, 25 or 20, but at the age of 30 you will have it.
If you say 'will have owned' then you mean that some time before 30 you will have the car, but may not have it at 30. In other words, 'will have...' does not tell us if you have the car still at 30, but rather that at some point before that you did.
The LearnEnglish Team

No grammar book (and I've got about a dozen of them) explains the difference between Future Simple and Progressive in similar sentences and why they can be used interchangeably. That's why I decided to ask my questions here, and now I seem to understand that, thanks to you.

My question concerns one of the uses of Future Progressive.
Consider this example:
- This time tomorrow I'll be lying on the beach and sunbathing.
If I'm not mistaken, we can't use Future Simple here ("I'll lie") because we're dealing with a very short action, which is quite limited in time, and which will be in progress at a particular moment in the future.
The same happens in the present:
- At the moment I'm lying on the beach and having a tan. (it's not correct to say "I lie", that's perfectly clear).
Nevertheless, I've come across a lot of examples in which Future Progressive is used to express long, permanent actions, not limited in time. If these examples referred to the present, then the most appropriate tense would be Simple Present, and not Present Progressive.
- In 50 years' time people won't be using petrol to drive their cars. Instead, most of them will be using electricity for that purpose.
The "present equivalent" for that would be:
- Nowadays, people use petrol to drive their cars.
If I'm not mistaken, it's not common to say "Nowadays people are using petrol to drive their cars", because it's a general, permanent action, not limited in time. And it's not a changing situation or trend, which would require the usage of Present Progressive.
Other similar examples (all taken from English coursebooks):
- Within 50 years people will be living longer lives.
- In 10 years’ time I expect I’ll be owning a flat.
If we "transfer" them to the present, we'll get:
- Nowadays people live to about 75-80.
- My family owns a flat and a small cottage in the countryside.
So the Progressive changes to the Present.

I've also come across lots of similar sentences where Future Simple is used instead of Future Progressive:
- In 50 years' time most rich people will live until they are over 100. (instead of "will be living")
- The development of intelligent cars means that, by 2030, they will drive themselves. (instead of "will be driving")
These are only some random examples among hundreds of similar ones.
It seems to me that, when we're talking about long, permanent future actions, which are not limited in time, we can use both Future Progressive and Future Simple interchangeably, while in the present the preference is given to Simple Present, not Present Progressive.
- In 50 years' time people won't be using/won't use petrol to drive their cars. Instead, most of them will be using/will use electricity for that purpose.
- Nowadays people use petrol to drive their cars and almost nobody uses electricity yet.

I would be very grateful to you if you could comment on what I've said above. Am I right in my conclusions?
Thank you very much!