Do you know when to use the future continuous (e.g. I'll be studying) and future perfect (e.g. I'll have studied)?

The future continuous (will be + ‘ing’ form) and the future perfect (will have + past participle) tenses are used to talk about events in the future.

Future continuous

  • Don’t ring at 8 o’clock. I’ll be watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
  • This time tomorrow we’ll be sitting on the beach. I can’t wait!

We use the future continuous to talk about something that will be in progress at or around a time in the future.

  • Don’t phone grandma now, she’ll be having dinner.
  • The kids are very quiet. They’ll be doing something wrong, I know it!

These sentences are not about the future but we can use the future continuous to talk about what we assume is happening at the moment.

Future Perfect

  • Do you think you will have finished it by next Thursday?
  • In 5 years time I’ll have finished university and I’ll be able to earn some money at last.

We use the future perfect to say that something will be finished by a particular time in the future.

We often use the future perfect with ‘by’ or ‘in

  • I think astronauts will have landed on Mars by the year 2020.
  • I’ll have finished in an hour and then you can use the computer.

By’ means ‘not later than a particular time’ and ‘in’ means 'within a period of time’. We don’t know exactly when something will finish.

  • I promise I’ll have done all the work by next Saturday.

We don’t know exactly when he will finish the work – maybe Thursday, maybe Friday – but definitely before Saturday. 


Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


Hi there! I want to ask about the prepositional phrase " at first". At is a preposition, so first is a noun or a pronoun? 

By the way, you can find more information on prepositional phrases here:

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi zhulin233,

You are correct that 'at first' is a prepositional phrase, and as such is made up of a preposition and its object, which is a noun, a noun phrase or a pronoun.  The potential source of confusion here is that 'first' is usually thought of as an adjective.  However, 'first' can be many parts of speech, including a noun.  For example:

I've never done that before so it was a first for me!

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Could you please explain the difference between the following sentences ? Thank you very much.
1) I think astronauts will land on Mars by the year 2020.
2) I think astronauts will have landed on Mars by the year 2020.

Hi sina.koohbour,

Both sentences make the same prediction. The difference is that the verb form in the second one more specifically indicates that the action of landing on Mars will already be complete by 2020. The first sentence also indicates this idea with the preposition by, but the verb form is a bit less specific.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Although I am at ease with "Future perfect" and "Future continuous," I am not very sure about "Future perfect continuous" sentences. Would you please explain that?

Hello Overcomer,

An example of a future perfect continuous sentence would be:

'He will have been working on that for two weeks by the weekend.'

We can contrast this with the simple form:

'He will have worked on that for two weeks by the weekend.'

In this example, as is often the case with continuous forms, the difference is a small one and is a question of emphasis rather than fact. In the continuous example we are emphasising the activity (the process) rather than the action or achievement; in the simple example we are looking at the opposite.

In some continuous/simple examples there is a clearer distinction, such as actions which are finished or not finished. For example:

I will have read the book by Tuesday. [it will be finished]
I will have been reading the book for a week by Tuesday. [it's won't be finished then]

However, as we are talking about a form with future meaning these are rather less frequent (the future being more uncertain, by its nature).

You can find more on the continuous aspect here [ ] and more on the perfective aspect here [ ].

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, Peter for the simple and clear explanation.