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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Submitted by Mema abdelhamid on Wed, 06/04/2016 - 00:09

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Hi sir I wonder when we used futue perfect and future continuous we sure 100% that it will happen like I think astronauts will have landed on mars on the year 2020. Don't phone grandma now she will be having dinner . The last example do i'm sure that she having dinner so i told him don't phone

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 06/04/2016 - 07:41

In reply to by Mema abdelhamid

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Hi Mema abdelhamid,

I wouldn't say it's 100% certain. You can speculate about things that seem unlikely. For example, it's fine to say 

I think astronauts will maybe have landed on Mars by the year 2020.

Future perfect describes an event in the future which will be completed by another time in the future. It does not necessarily imply certainty. Future continuous describes an event which we expect to be in progress at a particular time, but also does not imply certainty. For example:

Don't phone grandma now because there's a chance she will be having dinner.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sunrisereem on Sun, 03/04/2016 - 12:40

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Hello, Sir could you please tell me what is the deference between I'll be thinking of you when you go into hospital. and I'll will think of you when you go into hospital. and if i say I will be writing for you. that means it happen regularly. Thank you, Sir

Hello sunrisereham,

A lot of these distinctions depend on the context, so it's hard to differentiate all examples.

I'll be thinking of you when you go into hospital  -  this means the person will do this repeatedly or continuously while the person is in hospital, not just once.

I'll will think of you when you go into hospital  -  this suggests that the person will think about them once, not repeatedly.

I will be writing to you  -  ('to', I think, not 'for') this really depends on the context. It could mean regularly (the most likely option), or it could mean that the action will be in progress at a certain time (less likely, but possible).

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sunrisereem on Sun, 27/03/2016 - 12:09

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Hello, Sir according to use the future continuous to talk about what we assume is happening at the moment. Don’t phone grandma now, she’ll be having dinner. The kids are very quiet. They’ll be doing something wrong, I know it! what the difference if I say she is having dinner they are doing something wrong And I have read this topic recently: We use will (or won't) to indicate that we think a present situation is certain You will know that John and Sheila are engaged. (= you already know) If I say you know that John and Sheila are engaged is that correct too? Thank you, Sir

Hello sunrisereham,

When we use 'will be [verb]ing' we are guessing based on what we expect at a given time. When we use 'are [verb]ing' we are sure.

Similarly, in your second example when you use 'will' you are saying 'this is what I expect to be the case', while when you use the present simple you are stating a fact which is certain.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by naell on Tue, 22/03/2016 - 20:33

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hi all i'm new here but l've really learned a lots of things thank you a lot

Submitted by sunrisereem on Mon, 21/03/2016 - 16:11

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Hello, Sir What is the difference between future continuous and present continuous for talking about future in those examples: At 8 o'clock I will be travelling tomorrow Next Friday the president will be clebreting ten years in power At 8 o'clock I'm traveling tomorrow Next Friday the president is celebrating ten years in power Thank you

Hello sunrisereham,

The present continuous is used to talk about fixed events in the future in a more general way and the future continuous to speak about events that are expected to happen in the normal course of events, almost as if they were inevitable. This is especially true in the case of the president above – there's little that can stop the fact that he'll have been in power for 10 years. In the case of the person travelling, there could be the sense that this plan isn't changeable or was imposed on the person from the outside – it really depends on the context.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by MD.SALMAN on Sat, 19/03/2016 - 14:25

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HELLO EVERY ONE COULD YOU PLEASE TELL ME WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAKE AND MADE.WHEN WE USE THIS WORDS. THANK YOU

Hello MD.SALMAN,

These are different forms of the verb.

'Make' is an infinitive or present form.

'Made' is a past simple or past participle form.

These are fundamental verb forms and their use is detailed on relevant pages in the grammar section on verbs - here. For questions like this - very broad and general questions about fundamental aspects of the grammatical system - the comments section is not really a good place, but the grammar section contains this information and you can work through it at your own pace.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by wisefool on Wed, 16/03/2016 - 11:38

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Hello sir, what is the difference between these two sentences? I think everyone is going to the dinner on Friday The program starts at ten. both talk about future. But why don't we write : "The program is starting at ten" and "I think everyone goes to the dinner on Friday" Thank you

Hello wisefool,

The present simple is often used to talk about timetabled events, e.g. such as a program starting at 10. The dinner on Friday is a one-time event and is viewed as a plan – this is a typical use of 'going to'. Please see our talking about the future page for more on this topic in general.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sunrisereem on Mon, 14/03/2016 - 17:18

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Hello, Sit I have read we can also use the future continuous in prediction. So please I want to know what is the difference between those examples those clouds look very dark. it will be raining. look at those clouds. it's going to rain. Thank you

Hello sunrisereham,

You first example sentence is odd because 'going to' is typically used when we can see conditions (such as dark clouds) that cause us to make a prediction for the near future. 

The future continuous could be used to make a prediction if you regard the future event as normal in some way or if it's already planned. For example, since both you and I are regular users at LearnEnglish, I could say 'I'll be seeing you around' – this is a prediction of a future event that is to be expected since we are both regular users.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Maria Eugenia Abad on Mon, 07/03/2016 - 23:24

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

Submitted by snjezab on Mon, 25/01/2016 - 20:45

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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

Submitted by ankita2219 on Fri, 22/01/2016 - 14:44

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"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

Submitted by munish064 on Mon, 18/01/2016 - 16:39

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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

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 19/01/2016 - 06:38

In reply to by munish064

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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

Submitted by Shruti Aurora on Fri, 10/07/2015 - 03:49

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Sir / Ma'm, Could you provide a brief explanation of the differences between these four (mentioned below):- a) I asked b) I have asked c) I had asked d) I have been asked Kindly give some exaple for these four, by which we (the beginner) may understand the exact differences between the time frames of these four. Earnestly waiting for an answer. Please help me. Thanking you. Warm Regards, Shruti Aurora

Hello Shruti Aurora,

I'm afraid it's not possible to give you a brief answer. What you are asking is a huge question: there are four verb forms here with multiple meanings, different in different contexts and with meanings that depend upon other parts of the sentence. It would be possible to write a book in answer to your question!

What I suggest is that you use the grammar section, especially the section on verbs, to study these forms. Then, if you have any specific questions we'll be happy to try to help.

The names of the forms are

a) past simple

b) present perfect

c) past perfect

d) present perfect passive

You can find links to these in the verbs part of the grammar section.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by kstan on Fri, 12/06/2015 - 08:12

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May I know if following sentence is correct? Can future perfect be used in this context? The manager wants the team to start thinking about the project plan and the team will have updated him before end of next month.

Hello kstan,

Yes, that is fine, grammatically speaking - other than the missing definite article before 'end'. However, I think a better option stylistically and for clarity would be:

The manager wants the team to start thinking about the project plan and for them to update him before the end of next month.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Shali on Sat, 23/05/2015 - 09:58

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"You don't need to know that what am i doing" Is this a correct sentence

Hello Shali,

No, that is not correct. It would be correct if it were without 'that':

You don't need to know what am i doing.

I have one request for you: please try to post questions on relevant pages. This page is about future continuous and future perfect, and your question is not about those forms. Posting questions on relevant pages means the questions and answers can be seen by people learning about those issues and are therefore more useful.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by F.Hasani on Wed, 29/04/2015 - 21:52

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Hello Could you please tell me what's the correct option in this question? and let me know its reason. David: When are you going to the club, do you know? (Nick goes to the club every Friday) Nick: I (will have gone / will be going / will have been) there next Friday. Thanks a lot.

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 01/05/2015 - 13:18

In reply to by F.Hasani

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Hello F.Hasani,

The middle option ('will be going') is the one that makes most sense to me, because the two future perfect forms don't seem to have anything to do with the idea of completion, though they are possibly correct. What sort of exercise is this? Perhaps the teacher who gave you this exercise can explain it better. 

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by deepuips on Wed, 25/03/2015 - 14:49

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Sir, Please tell me the difference between 1.I promise I’ll have done all the work by next Saturday. And 2.I promise I’ll do all the work by next Saturday. Thank you sir.

Hello deepuips,

In this context there is no difference in meaning. The 'will have' form, sometimes called 'future perfect', tells us that an action will be completed before a certain time. The 'will' form tells us than an action will take place in the future, but not necessarily that it will be completed.

I will eat dinner by three o'clock. - I will start before three but may not finish until after three.

I will have eaten dinner by three o'clock. - My dinner will be finished before three.

In your context 'do the work' already means 'complete the work', so there is no difference in meaning.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter M sir.I have understood what you have said.On that basis.Please look at this If I were to apple the same in past then would these two sentence also mean the same 1.I received the book by three o'clock. 2.I had received the book by three o'clock. Do the above two mean the same sir? If not what is the difference between the two?Please explain to me in simple terms.You, I think, have explained to me so very well, that I feel indebted to you. Thanking you, Best wishes, Deepuips

Hello Deepuips,

The forms here are past simple and past perfect. Past simple ('I received...') is used to describe a completed action in the past. Past perfect ('I had received...') is also used to describe a completed action in the past, but one which has some relation to another, later, action also in the past. This means that the meaning, as such, is not necessarily different, but that we would use the past perfect when there is another action to act as a point of reference.

In other words, if we are simply talking about getting the book then the first sentence is sufficient and correct. If we are also going to talk about another even, after getting the book, to which our getting the book is relevant in some way, then the second sentence would be used. For example:

He arrived at three thirty, but as I had received the book by three o'clock that gave me time to familiarise myself with its contents.

As you can see, context is crucial here. All perfective forms relate an action to another time and/or another action, which is why context is so important.

For more information about the past perfect look here.

For more information about past forms look here.

For more information about perfective forms look here.

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter M sir.I sincerely feel you are the best. Sir as you said about past perfect that simple future that the action may get completed or not, similarly can I infer the same about the simple past? I mean, when we say 1.I received the book by three o'clock. Can it also mean that I may have received at three o'clock? And 2.I had received the book by three o'clock.Can I restrict it to mean that I received it surely before three o'clock? I mean additionally from the Simple Past and Past Perfect distinction can the above also be one of the differences like we have in the case of Simple Future and Future Perfect? Thank you nice Peter M sir. Best wishes.

Hello deepuips,

The distinction is not that one was before three o'clock and one may have been before or at three o'clock; if we say 'by three o'clock then we mean that when that time came we already had it. The distinction is whether we are just describing one event (in which case we use the past simple) or whether we wish to relate one even to a later one in some way (the past perfect). Take a look at my examples in the last answer - they should show this distinction.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I was studying today's newspaper and this appeared.I am asking it as it is related to what we are discussing How did the metals get there? Metals are used in practically every product we use. Even detergents and shampoos have traces of them. Nanoparticles are used to limit body odour in socks, for instance. A lot of this is absorbed by the body and discarded as waste, which enters the sewage system and treatment plants. So I could have been a millionaire by now? Since the idea isn’t to sift through individual toilet refuse, no, you would still probably be where you are now. To actually mine the sewage, wastewater is treated through physical, biological and chemical processes, resulting in treated water and biosolids. The biosolids, says US researchers, may be as good as a gold mine. Sir is the usage ofI could have a been millionaire by now, correct? If yes, the how does it differ from I could be a millionaire by now? Please explain to me. Thank you.

Hello deepuips,

'Could have been' refers to a possible but unreal outcome in the past - becoming a millionaire before the moment of speaking. 'Could be' would refer to a possible situation now - being a millionaire at the moment of speaking. One looks at something which happended before speaking and the other looks at a state at the moment of speaking.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Thank you sir. So sir grammatically Both are right.So what you mean to say is 1.I could be a millionaire by now means I could be a millionaire now.Am I right?Or should I say I could be millionaire now and not use by?I feel the usage of by in present tense seems a bit wrong. Please help me sir.

Hello deepuips,

It's not unusual to hear both 'could be... by now' and 'could have been... by now'. As I said in my earlier reply, one focuses on something before the time of speaking, whereas the other focuses on a state at the time of speaking. For example:

The dinner might have been cooked by now. [it might be finished any time before the present - let's see if we can eat]

The dinner might be cooked by now. [we'd better check the oven because if we leave it too long it might burn]

Remember that language is highly context-dependent; in order to understand it's use you need to think about it in a concrete situation.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by tclian on Wed, 11/03/2015 - 13:45

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Hi teacher , any recommendation to improve my grammar and writing ? I stopped at simple present , simple past and continuous tense..certain grammar I'm quite confused . for example , why u say/said that ? Especial how to ask questions. Please advice thanks

Hi tclian,

There's some advice on our Help page that might be useful for you, and I'd also suggest you try one of the sections in Listen & Watch. For example, when you work through the Elementary Podcasts, you work on your listening comprehension, grammar and vocabulary all at once, and most people find it more interesting that working through grammar pages alone.

I'm afraid I don't understand your question about 'say/said' - could you please rephrase it?

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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