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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

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.

Hello again brian1010,

You can use the simple form in each example. I would say that the continuous form suggests an expectation which, to my ear, has a lower degree of certainty than the simple form.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I repeated the rules and tenewed my knowledge. Thank you.

Hello.
I still have troubles understanding the difference between future continuous and future simple. Whenever I come across the future continuous in books and movies I ask myself: “Would it be correct if I used the future simple instead?” For example, in this excerpt from “Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban” the author used this tense:

MINISTRY OF MAGIC EMPLOYEE SCOOPS GRAND PRIZE

Arthur Weasley, Head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office at the Ministry of Magic, has won the annual Daily Prophet Grand Prize Galleon Draw.

A delighted Mr. Weasley told the Daily Prophet, “We will be spending the gold on a summer holiday in Egypt, where our eldest son, Bill, works as a curse breaker for Gringotts Wizarding Bank.”
I don’t understand why is “we will be spending” and not “we will spend”. Would it mean a different thing if it was future simple?

Also in this book Hermione talks about how little she likes Divination, because this subject is not based on facts and the teacher is a little bit too dramatic, and she uses the future continuous:

If being good at Divination means I have to pretend to see death omens in a lump of tea leaves, I’m not sure I’ll be studying it much longer! That lesson was absolute rubbish compared with my Arithmancy class!”

Why does she use “I’ll be studying?” I thought the future simple must be used for strong intentions.
Can you help me understand this difference?

Hello Sarah Word,

Very often both will and will be verb-ing are possible in the same sentence. The choice depends on how the speaker sees the action.

 

Will implies a decision which is made at or around the time of speaking, or else a guess, prediction or belief about the future.

We will spend the gold on a summer holiday in Egypt, where our eldest son, Bill, works as a curse breaker for Gringotts Wizarding Bank.”

If Mr. Weasley said this, then we would understand that this was a decision he was making as or just before he spoke.

Similarly, in the second example, Hermione would be talking about her choice or decision.

 

Will be verb-ing is a little different. We often use it to describe something we see as a natural or expected result of a particular situation. It tells us something is expected and unsurprising, or an obvious conclusion.

When Mr. Weasley says we'll be spending it on..., we understand that for him this is an obvious and natural choice.

Similarly, when Hermione says I don't think I'll be studying it much longer, she is implying that this is the obvious result of her poor experience in Divination classes to date.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Can you explain because in sentence "7. Let's call Rory. He'll .... arrived by now", the right answer is "have" but no "has"? Thanks.

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