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

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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

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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.

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

In reply to by patph0510

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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

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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

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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

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

In reply to by ihsan_qwerty

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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

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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

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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?

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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 !

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

In reply to by Abfalter Cristian

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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

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Hello coud you help me with this plz by 2020 we will have been married or we will be married

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

In reply to by Rana

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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

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

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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

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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

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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

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

In reply to by santoga87

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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

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Tue, 17/04/2018 - 21:34

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Could you please help me with this sentence: Choose: By next year I (will have - will have had - will be having) a new car. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

I'm afraid we don't provide answers to questions from elsewhere in this way. If we did then we would end up doing our users' homework or tests for them!

In this case neither option looks correct to me. The verb 'have' is not used in a dynamic way when referring to possession and I think a different verb is needed in this context, such as 'buy'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Cephei on Sat, 09/12/2017 - 18:24

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Hi I have some difficulties about how to differentiate between future perfect from future continuous, I don't know when to use each, like for example: ''I probably won't have had much experience'', that's the example they have given me but for me also makes sense '' I probably won't be having much experience''. And also in the example for future continuous : ''I'll be graduating in two years'' but for me makes sense too ''I'll have graduated in two years'', I've been trying to find a pattern for each time but I haven't been able to find it, for what I know, future continuous is used for ongoing activities in the future and for events you expect to happen meanwhile future perfect is used for events that are in the past when you view them from the future, but still I don't know when to use each.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 10/12/2017 - 08:08

In reply to by Cephei

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Hi Cephei,

When we talk about the future we often have several forms which we can use to describe a given situation, and which we choose depends on how we see it and what we want to emphasise. For example, both of the following are possible:

I'll be graduating in two years

I'll have graduated in two years

 

If you use the second then you are looking back from a point when the graduation is already done. There is no information about when the actual graduation takes place - it could be in a year and a half, in a year, in a year and eleven months etc. The only information we have is that in two years it will definitely already have happened.

If you use the first form then we have more information. In this sentence you are telling us that the actual graduation will be in progress (more or less literally) at a point two years from now.

 

Which of these forms you choose in this case depends upon non-grammatical questions: your intention, what you wish to emphasise, the context in which you are speaking, the knowledge your interlocutor already has and so on.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by blessnick on Mon, 02/04/2018 - 18:12

In reply to by Peter M.

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I don't get the sentence ' I'll have graduated in two years.' Shouldn't it be I have graduated in two years'?

Hello blessnick,

'I have graduated' would describe your present situation with reference to a past action or event.

'I will have graduated' describes a future situation. We use 'will have' when an action occurs in the future before another event or time further in the future. Thus, this sentence means means that the graduation will take place in the future before two years. It could be in two years, in a year and a half, in a year - all that we know is that before two years pass it will have happened.

You can read more about this form on this page.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by omiro on Mon, 27/11/2017 - 11:51

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Hi, thank you for the article. It's very useful but I still have a question. What is the difference btwn Future Perfect and Future Simple? For example, what's the difference between 'I'll do it by Friday' and 'I'll have done it by Friday'? Is it just the speaker's level of certainty that the action is to happen? i.e. is it just a prediction in the first sentence and a belief in the second one? Thank you in advance

Hello omiro,

It's not a difference of certainty, it's more of a different perspective. The future perfect emphasises the completion, whereas 'will' does not. In most situations, there is no strong need to use the future perfect, but you can use it if you want to emphasise completion before a certain point in time.

I hope that helps you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rezaya on Mon, 23/10/2017 - 06:57

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Hi what the difference between future continuous and going to be Don’t ring at 8 o’clock. I’ll be watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Don’t ring at 8 o’clock. I'm going to be watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire. thank you.

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 23/10/2017 - 07:17

In reply to by Rezaya

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Hello Rezaya,

In this case, there is no real difference in meaning between them. In general, 'be going to' is used to speak about a plan or intention and then the continuous infinitive ('be watching') indicates an action in progress. The future continuous has different uses, but probably the main one is to speak about a future event in progress, which is the case here.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sujit Maji on Sat, 14/10/2017 - 05:11

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Question: He woke up late this morning, so he______ late for work. A) have been. B) being. C) will be. D) will have been. I am a bit confused whether to use option c or d. Can you help me finding the best suitable answer?

Hello Sujit Maji,

I'm afraid we don't provide answers for question from elsewhere (other sites, homework or tests). This would not be fair to other teachers and, besides, we would end up having to answers hundreds of such questions!

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team