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

Do you need to improve your English grammar?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English grammar with our online courses.

Submitted by Jennief on Wed, 24/04/2019 - 13:49

Permalink
Hello 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. Thanks!
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 25/04/2019 - 06:48

In reply to by Jennief

Permalink
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 Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by EvgenyAndreev on Wed, 24/04/2019 - 10:58

Permalink
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.

Submitted by EvgenyAndreev on Tue, 23/04/2019 - 10:07

Permalink
Hello, 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. Example: - 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!
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 23/04/2019 - 14:41

In reply to by EvgenyAndreev

Permalink
Hello EvgenyAndreev The future progressive, also referred to as the future continuous, is one of several verb forms that have continuous aspect, which can be used to express a variety of meanings (https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar/continuous-aspect). The continuous form in the sentence about lying on the beach at this time tomorrow suggests that you'll already have been there before this time tomorrow and that you will likely continue to be there after this time as well. If people are imagining a specific situation they expect to be in in the future, they often use a future continuous form. Your example is a good one in this case. In contrast, if a friend of yours asks you to go to the cinema with him tomorrow at this time and you looking at your diary and see that tomorrow you've got an appointment with your friends at the beach at exactly the same time, you'd be more likely to say 'I'll be at the beach'. Note also that lying on the beach is something we usually do for awhile, i.e. over time, and this is another meaning the continuous aspect can express. The continuous aspect doesn't necessarily refer to an even that is short in duration, as you've noticed and ask about in other sentences. In the case of people living longer in the future, this is a change or development that is contrasted with the present, when they have shorter lifespans (at least according to the perspective this sentence suggests). If the future simple is used, then people's lifespan is seen more as a simple fact, rather than as something different from the present. As you can see, the continuous aspect can be used not to refer just to time, but is also very often used to show the speaker's perspective on an event or fact. I hope this helps you. Best wishes Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by EvgenyAndreev on Mon, 22/04/2019 - 17:49

Permalink
Hello, In one of the previous messages, two sentences were discussed: 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. Kirk replied that both alternatives are possible. If you don't mind, I'd like to add a question of my own. 1) Does it mean that we can always use both Future Simple and Future Perfect interchangeably in similar sentences with 'by'? For example: - By the year 2040 the world's population will reach/will have reached 9 billion. - We will get back/will have got back to the hotel by seven. - In ten years' time I'll get married and have three kids / I'll have got married and had three kids. Perhaps the degree of certainty might be different? What do you think? Thank you very much for your answer!
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 23/04/2019 - 06:42

In reply to by EvgenyAndreev

Permalink
Hello EvgenyAndreev, Both options are possible and there is no difference in meaning in these examples. The by-phrase already contains a sense of 'complete before' so it makes no difference if 'will' or 'will have' is used. ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team
Profile picture for user David

Submitted by David on Sun, 03/03/2019 - 13:06

Permalink
Hi sir, Considering the two phrase, "In five years time","in 10 year's time", which one is correct? I mean the word "years" without apostrophe 's' is correct or the word with apostrophe 's ,is correct. Thanks ,
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 03/03/2019 - 17:40

In reply to by David

Permalink

Hello again David

The correct spelling is 'in five years' time' or 'in ten years' time'. This apostrophe indicates possession (of a sort) and it comes after the letter 's' because 'years' is plural.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Harry New on Wed, 13/02/2019 - 15:25

Permalink
I promise I’ll have done all the work by next Saturday. In this sentence, is it possible that the person finish the work on Saturday?

Hello Harry New,

Generally, when we use will have with a by construction we consider it to refer to a time before the identified moment. However, in normal communicative use the context will determine this. It is possible that the speaker means 'before next Saturday', 'before I see you next Saturday', 'before I come to work next Saturday' etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by muhammadShaker on Sun, 20/01/2019 - 20:08

Permalink
Excuse me, this sentence has come in an English test and I'd like to know the right answer: - Friday has the ...................... number of cars on roads. (least- fewest- less- fewer) Some teachers say it's the least, but others say the fewest and I'm a little confused.

Hello muhammadShaker

'the fewest cars' and 'the lowest number of cars' (or 'the smallest number') are the best forms here; 'the least number' is also used sometimes but is not really correct. 'fewest' can only be used with a plural count noun (such as 'cars', but not 'number'). 'least' is used in many ways, but it used with uncount nouns -- 'number' is not an uncount noun here.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by patph0510 on Sat, 29/12/2018 - 13:03

Permalink
Hi, I saw a sentence on the Internet, which reads: "I will be leaving for the UK at 7:00 in the evening." As I think "leave", similar to "arrive", can only occur at a particular point of time, I am quite confused as to why future continuous is used in this sentence. Thanks.
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 29/12/2018 - 16:15

In reply to by patph0510

Permalink

Hi patph0510,

The continuous aspect can be used to convey a variety of meanings and these are often not clear without knowing the context. In this case, I expect the person who said this was thinking of their departure for the UK and was imagining it as something that would take some time. If they were flying, for example, they'd have to get to the airport, check in, go to their gate, board the plane, get settled, etc. At some point during that process, the clock would strike 7.00.

We often use the future continuous to speak about planned or arranged events in this way.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nataly Nieves on Wed, 26/12/2018 - 21:10

Permalink
Omg, u'r the best! I'm so thankful for all youre classes, it helped me so much when I didn't understand s'thing. Now I'm in Intermidiate 10... Greetings from Peru!

Submitted by ihsan_qwerty on Sun, 09/12/2018 - 05:21

Permalink
Hi in the example you've mentioned, "Don’t phone grandma now, she’ll be having dinner." why don't we say: she is having dinner? according to my little knowledge with the adverb "now" we use present continuous and in this example, we want to say don't bother grandam because she is at the middle of having dinner thank in advance
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 09/12/2018 - 08:06

In reply to by ihsan_qwerty

Permalink

Hi ihsan_qwerty,

Both forms are possible here, but there is a difference in meaning.

If we say '...she's having dinner' then we are stating a fact which we know is true.

If we say '...she'll be having dinner' then we are speculating; we expect that this is true but we do not know for sure.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

You are GOD of ENGLISH.........thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanks

Submitted by andreus1999 on Wed, 21/11/2018 - 16:55

Permalink
We will be having dinner at a nice restaurant on Saturday, but we have't booked a table yet. We are going to have dinner at a nice restaurant on Saturday, but we have't booked a table yet. Why is the fisrt one wrong On Sunday at 8 o'clock I am going to be meeting my friend. On Sunday at 8 o'clock I am meeting my friend. is the fisrt one wrong?

Hi andreus1999,

The first one is strange because when we use the future continuous, it's as if we're imagining the experience of having dinner at the restaurant or we're thinking about how the event happens, but then the second part of the sentence is talking about a plan. The second version of the sentence, which uses 'going to' to talk about a plan, makes more sense.

As for the second pair of sentences, both could be correct. It really depends on the situation you use them in and what you mean.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by bellatambunan on Thu, 11/10/2018 - 09:39

Permalink
Hi, please help me to understand which one is right. Are you doing anything interesting this weekend? or Will you be doing anything interesting this weekend? I am totally confused to distinguish between present continuous in future and future continuous. :) Thank you!

Hello bellataylor,

Both of these are possible.

The first (are you doing...) is a question about arrangements and things which are already decided.

The second (will you be doing...) is a general question which could refer to plans, intentions or just hopes.

The difference in this context is tiny. It is really only about the kind of answers the speaker expects, and you can use them interchangeably.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Are you doing anything interesting this weekend? - you ask about arrangements, already planned activities. The probable answers will be: - Yes, I'm going to the beach. - No I still haven't planned anything yet. Will you be doing anything interesting this weekend? - you ask about intentions, what a person is willing to do. You can form your question this way and the meaning will stay the same 'Do you want to do anything interesting this weekend'? So, use present continuous when you ask about arrangements and future continuous when you ask about intentions. Is my explanation useful or do you need further clarification on the subject?
Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Sat, 15/09/2018 - 20:48

Permalink
How can I send you an attachment with my question? Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

There is no facility for sending attachments. We generally answer questions relating to our own material, not to materials (tests or other material) from elsewhere so if your question relates to something like that then I'm afraid it is outside of out area in any case.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Sat, 15/09/2018 - 20:25

Permalink
Could you help me please? Are both of these forms correct or only one? If so, what is the difference in meaning between them: Experts think that Cairo (will grow - will have grown) by more than half a million people next year. thank you

Hello Ahmed Imam,

The first sentence is correct. It tells us tells us what the speaker believes will happen next year.

 

The second sentence needs a little change:

Experts think that Cairowill have grown by more than half a million people by next year.

Experts think that Cairowill have grown by more than half a million people by the middle of next year.

Experts think that Cairowill have grown by more than half a million people by the end of next year.

We use [will have + past participle] when we are talking about something which will happen before a time in the future. We don't know or don't say exactly when it will happen, but we know it will be before a certain point.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Another problem, please: What is meant by each one of these? By the end of next year, the government will build a new school in the village. By the end of next year, the government will have built a new school in the village. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

In this context there is very little difference.

Both sentences tell us that the completion of the school will be before the end of next year. The difference is that in the first sentence the building has not yet begun. In the second sentence we do not know if it has begun or not.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

The following sentences are from Future perfect simple (I will have worked eight hours) English Grammar Today Cambridge Dictionary. No. 1 and 3 have "next year" without "By" and they use the future perfect 1- Next month my parents will have been together for thirty years. 2- At the end of this month, they will have been in their house for one year. 3- Next month I will have worked for the company for six years. Thank you

Hello Ahmed Imam,

That's correct. What would you like to ask us about?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Fri, 07/09/2018 - 19:15

Permalink
Is there a difference between "think of" and "think about"? Please, Help. I'm totally confused after I have been searching online. Ex: I often think (of, about) the time we spent in Rome that I can't forget. Thank You.

Hi Ahmed Imam,

There is a subtle difference between the meanings these two forms could have here. 'think of' is usually used to say that someone has come to your mind -- for example, imagine you are in a bookshop and see a copy of a novel you read with your favourite teacher in secondary school. Seeing the book might make you think of your teacher (he or she comes into your mind).

'think about' is used when we spend some time processing ideas. For example, after seeing that novel and thinking of your teacher, you might start thinking about your experience in secondary school, i.e. your other teachers, your friends, where the school was, etc. -- this is a more extended process.

There are other ways these forms are used, but these are two of the most common. I hope that helps you understand at least this one difference.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Aisha na Shadee

Submitted by Aisha na Shadee on Fri, 31/08/2018 - 11:50

Permalink
Don't come at 2:00 Am you''ll find nobody at home we'll be parting at Las Vegas club, you may come either earlier before that time or later 3 hours after we'll be getting back home. Is my sentence correct?

Hi Aisha,

The part of the sentence that says 'later three hours after' is redundant; I'd recommend 'or three hours later' instead.

Other than that, in spoken language, this sentence would be correct, but in writing it would need to be broken up into a few different sentences with some punctuation. For exampe, the beginning would need to be something like 'Don't come at 2:00 am. You won't find anybody at home. We'll be partying ...'

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Abfalter Cristian

Submitted by Abfalter Cristian on Sat, 18/08/2018 - 13:31

Permalink
Hello ! Is it correct to say : - I will finish in an hour and then you can use the computer. as an alternative to previous sentence frrom this lesson :'' I'll have finished in an hour and then you can use the computer.'' Thank you !
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 19/08/2018 - 06:48

In reply to by Abfalter Cristian

Permalink

Hello Abfalter Cristian,

Both of those sentences are correct, but there is a slight difference in meaning.

Your version (I will finish) tells us when you will finish exactly. It is effectively a promise to stop using the computer at a given time.

The original version (I'll have finished) does not give us an exact time, but rather a latest possible time. In other words, the person might finish in an hour, or in half an hour, or in five minutes. Of course, the suggestion is that something like an hour will be needed, but in terms of grammar the structure tells us only that the speaker will finish some time before an hour has passed.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rana on Wed, 18/07/2018 - 14:55

Permalink
Hello coud you help me with this plz by 2020 we will have been married or we will be married
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 19/07/2018 - 03:35

In reply to by Rana

Permalink

Hi Rana,

Both are fine, though the second one is probably more common. In the first, 'married' is part of a passive verb and in the second it is an adjective. People also commonly speak of 'getting married', i.e. 'By 2020 we will have got married'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Ahmed Imam,

'is' is correct in this sentence. 'writing' is an uncount noun in each case and so a singular verb is used. If we changed the sentence to refer to count nouns then we'd use a plural verb: e.g. '75% of women and 50% of men like romantic comedies'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Fri, 22/06/2018 - 00:37

Permalink
Could you please help me about the future perfect? Is it correct to say "By 2030, many well-paid jobs will have been available in Egypt." Some teachers say that "will be" is the only correct form here. I am really confused. Thank you

Hello Ahmed Imam,

The correct form here is 'will be available'. You could use the future perfect form if you were describing an action which has a particular time of occurrence rather than an ongoing state. For example, you could say will have been created or will have been made available.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by santoga87 on Sun, 10/06/2018 - 21:01

Permalink
What "The kids are very quiet" means ? Why didn't you use word "children" instead of "kids" ?

Hi santoga87,

'kids' and 'children' mean the same thing, though 'kids' is more common in an informal context. Does that make sense given the context?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by santoga87 on Sun, 10/06/2018 - 20:50

Permalink
Hello I don't understand enough about the time that you mentioned,it's "This time tomorrow". Would you like to give it a bit of explanation ? Thank you anyway
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 11/06/2018 - 01:50

In reply to by santoga87

Permalink

Hi santoga87,

'this time tomorrow' means 'at this time tomorrow'. In other words, if it is 14:00 on Tuesday, 'this time tomorrow' means 14:00 on Wednesday.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team