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. 

Exercise

Language level

Upper intermediate: B2

Comments

I had some douts about future perfect and this lesson has help me a lot, so thanks a lot for the help rigards.

Hello The LearnEnglish Team,

I was wondering whether it would be grammatically correct to use either the future perfect or future simple with time expressions such as "by the end of this month" or "in two weeks", etc. Is the role of the future perfect simply to emphasize the completion of the activity mentioned by the time stated, while the future simple merely predicts that the activity will happen without stressing its completion?

Thank you for your time in advance.

Best regards,
SnjezaB

Hello SnjezaB,

The form [will be + verb-ing] suggests that an activity is in progress rather than being complete, irrespective of the time reference. Even if you add a time reference such as 'by the end of the week' the implication is that the activity is in progress rather than finished.

The form [will have + verb3] suggests completion, again irrespective of the time reference. Of course, if the verb is one such as 'start' or 'begin' then the completion might only refer to the starting of the activity, not the activity itself.

No exceptions to the above occur to me, but I think this question really needs concrete examples rather than abstract explanations. If you can provide one or two examples of the kind of sentence you have in mind and we'll be happy to comment on them.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

"I think astronauts will have landed on Mars by the year 2020." Instead of writing this can we write "I think astronauts will land on Mars by the 2020?"

Hello ankita,

Yes, that is also correct, except you should say just 'by 2020' instead of 'by the 2020'.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir,
I am not able to find future tense ( simple ,continuous or perfect ) in 'grammar section'. I think there would be detailed clarification of these topics than in 'quick grammar section'. I have studied present and past tenses in grammar section but I can't find future tenses there except only one page "talking about future". I don't want to disturb you guys but guide me as soon as you can.
Thanks for Efforts

Hello munish,

The Quick grammar is not a comprehensive grammar – instead, it's a list of topics that we've found many learners ask about. The English grammar is more comprehensive and does not include a section on the future tense because in fact, in the view of many grammarians, including Dave Willis, the author of this section, there is no future tense in English! This comes down to how you define a tense, which is an issue we're really not all that interested in here at LearnEnglish. But the talking about the future page is the page with the most information about this topic, though there are others – try searching for 'future' using our search facility (at the top right of the page).

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much for your reply sir,
but could you please tell me how do you define 'tense' (not a full description but just a simple definition so that I can understand your views.)
Thanks for your great help

Hello munish064,

A tense is generally described as follows (this is taken from the Cambridge Dictionaries Online):

1 any of the ​forms of a ​verb which show the ​time at which an ​action ​happened:
"I ​sing" is in the ​present tense and "I ​sang" is in the past tense.

The key word here is 'form', which refers to a change in the shape of the verb, not to the use of extra words. This is why 'will + verb' is not viewed by grammarians as a tense - it is a modal verb, like 'should', 'must' and so on. It can have future meaning, but it can have other meanings too. English uses modal verbs, present forms, past forms, lexical phrases and other devices to talk about the future, but does not have one form which is, grammatically speaking, a 'future tense'.

For more explanation on how English talks about the future please take a look at this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much sir ....but "will +verb" is used in future simple form only. There is '-ing form' in future continuous form and past participle form in future perfect form. So it's confusing me. I am sorry for wasting your time for such a stupid question.
Thanks

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