Future continuous and future perfect

Do you know how to use phrases like I'll be studying or I'll have finished? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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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Average: 2.8 (4 votes)

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.
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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
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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