You are here

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

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.

Hello cms10,

1. Yes, I think that's generally correct, though of course the context of any particular utterance is important. Will tends to imply a high degree of conviction, whether that is in the form of a personal conviction (a belief) or a personal obligation (a promise).

2. In many cases, yes. However, I would advise against tying the distinction between the two forms too closely to real-world criteria. It's really often a choice based on how the speaker sees or feels about the situation rather than a question of objective fact.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
Could you please explain further the use of the future continuous? I don't understand its use in the following examples. And if I just use the simple tense,would it be correct?
-..Ali will be singing...
-He'll be staying with his parents for several months....
-Will you be starting work earlier with your new job?

I read some comments and I can understand that when a decision is made it is the simple tense and when it a prediction, guess... it is the continuous tense.. In the example 'I'm afraid I won't be coming tonight' I suppose that the speaker is not sure and hasn't made a decision yet. But in the above examples I can't really see why?

Hi teachers,

I would like to ask why the following three sentences use the future continuous tense instead of the simple future tense:

1. Some flyers, particularly business travellers, will be reassessing how much flying they need to do in future.

2. The company will not be changing its policies that allow lying in paid political advertisements.

3. We will be asking her to investigate whether there have been supervisory failures and if so to set out a possible course of action

Thanks.

Hi brian1010,

When we talk about something that is organised for the future we often us the present continuous:

She's leaving at 6.00 on Friday.

This is something that is certain in my mind. It's already arranged and set.

Will is used when we want to speculate or make a guess or prediction. Thus, if I'm not sure about when the person is leaving I can say this:

She'll be leaving at 6.00 on Friday.

Your examples work in a similar way. The speaker (writer) is speculating about the response of various people to a given situation.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear teacher,

Thank you for your reply. If the future continuous tense in those sentences is changed to the simple future tense, would it be grammatically incorrect, and would there be any change in meaning?

Thank you.

Pages