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

Average: 4.1 (25 votes)
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Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 29/07/2020 - 07:55

In reply to by cms10


Hello cms10,

You could use [will verb] in each of those sentences.


The form [will be verb-ing] has several uses. It is often used to describe an arrangement which has not yet been made but is sure. It can help to compare it to the present continuous:

We are forwarding our new catalogue to you next week. [the procedure to do this has already started]

We will be forwarding our new catalogue to you next week. [the procedure to do this has not started but is sure to]

The difference between [will verb] and [will be verb-ing] is often one of nuance and emphasis rather than objective fact.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your reply. I have two additional questions: 1. You said the difference between [will] [will be -ing] is often one of nuance and emphasis. Am I correct to say that [will be -ing] makes a sentence less definite (or in other words, tentative) compared with [will]? 2. I read from a grammar book that the present continuous tense can be used to describe an event in the future which has already been arranged by the time of speaking. Am I correct to say that the difference between the present continuous tense and future continuous tense lies in whether arrangements regarding the future event has been made? Thanks.

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.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Asni on Sun, 26/07/2020 - 22:42

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?

Submitted by brian1010 on Thu, 16/07/2020 - 14:59

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.



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.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Dastenova Firuza on Sun, 12/07/2020 - 16:31

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

Submitted by Teresa R. on Tue, 23/06/2020 - 17:23

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?
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