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 AboWasel on Tue, 02/08/2022 - 23:55

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Hello team.
Which sentence is correct?
She is working on a new project.
She has been working on a new project.
And please tell me the difference in meaning.

Hi AboWasel,

Both sentences are correct. In sentence 1 (present continuous), the time is now. It means that she's doing it now, at the present moment. In sentence 2 (present perfect continuous), the time is recently. She may or may not be doing it right now (i.e. the work may or may not continue to the present moment - both meanings are possible).

I hope that helps!

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you
Another question ,please. what is the difference in meaning in these 2 examples?
She was woking here for 3 months.
She had been working here for 3 months.

Hello AboWasel,

The second one refers to another point in time in the past. This point in time in the past was probably explained in the previous sentences, or will become clear in the sentences after this one.

The first one is more general in that it doesn't refer to another period of time; it focuses on that period of three months.

I'd suggest you have a look at our Past continuous and Past perfect pages.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sokhom on Sun, 05/06/2022 - 14:07

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Hello, Sir!
I was wondering what the differences between the sentences:
1. The bridge will be completed by May. (Is it a prediction?)
2. The bridge will be being completed by May. (is it a plan or a prediction? If prediction, is it less certain than simple future?)
3. The bridge will have been completed by May. (A completed action before a particular time in the future)
Best Wishes!

Hello Sokhom,

Sentences 1 and 3 mean the same thing -- that before May arrives, the bridge will be completed -- but 3 emphasises the completion more. Perhaps another person has said it won't be done by May and so the speaker uses the future perfect to insist, for example.

I'm afraid sentence 2 isn't really correct. The verb is formed correctly, but it doesn't make sense to use a continuous form with 'by' in this way.

Hope that helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

You explanation is really a big help for me, Sir.
1. The bridge is being completed by May. (future plan)
2. The bridge will be being completed by May.
I wanted to know if we can use "will be +v-ing" to express future plan.
And I wanted to know if we can use "will be +v-ing to express "prediction".
Best Wishes!

Hello again Sokhom,

I would strongly recommend 'going to be completed' instead of 'is being completed' if you're talking about a plan because most people would use 'going to' and 'is being' would sound odd. Also, we don't usually use a continuous form when speaking about a deadline, i.e. a point in time that marks a before and an after.

I suppose you could use 'will be being completed' for a prediction, but, like with 1, it sounds very unnatural to me in combination with the prepositional phrase beginning with 'by'. 'By' indicates a line in time, so to speak -- i.e. a time before which it's not completed and a time after which it is completed. It's very, very strange to use a continuous form in such a situation. I'd recommend 'is going to be completed' or 'will be completed' for a prediction here.

Hope that helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by aymanme2 on Fri, 20/05/2022 - 09:43

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Hi, sirs.
I'd like to know your opinion concerning this question:
In ten years' time, electric cars ___ widely used.
1] will be
2] will have been

I see 'will have been' is OK for two reasons:
A] using 'in ten years' time
B] the use of 'widely' as I think it implies that people already started using those cars and those cars will develop until they have been widely used.

Am I right?

Hi aymanme2,

Actually, I would choose option 1. Option 2 is possible, but it's less likely than option 1 because it suggests completeness of the action, i.e., 'being widely used' is complete and it is no longer the situation. This seems unlikely in the context, since there is no apparent reason why they would become widely used and then stop being widely used. For your meaning in reason B, using the verb "become" would work --> "will have become".

I hope that helps!

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot, sir.
Yet, I'd like to check my understanding. You mean we choose 'will be' because it refers to an ongoing action: using electric cars is not something people would stop doing in the future, right?
When we say 'will have been widely used', this means that using those cars will stop at the period mentioned, which is unlikely.
Is that what you mean, sir?

Hi aymanme2,

Yes, right! To be precise, 'will have been widely used' means that the cars will stop being widely used sometime before the period mentioned, not in that exact period.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Fri, 15/04/2022 - 16:32

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Hello Team. I think both choices in the next sentence are correct, right? Why
- By the end of next year, the road to my town (will have been paved - will be paved).
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

You are right -- both answers are correct.

They both refer to a paved road in the future. Why exactly someone would choose to use one or the other depends a lot on their intentions and the context, but, for example, 'will have been paved' could suggest the speaker is thinking of different sorts of works that will be done in the town between now and next year, and the road is one of the projects on that list.

The other sentence is more general; it just reports the state of the road in the future, after it has been paved.

Hope that helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Teresa R. on Wed, 02/03/2022 - 16:17

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Hello team.
My question is: between future continuous and present continuous, what is the correct tense to talk about future arrangements? For example, in these sentences:
a)Mary is starting school next week.
b)Mary will be starting school next week.
Which is the correct one?
I know it depends on the context, but I would like to be explained what are the different nuances of meaning between these tenses. Thank you.

Hello Teresa R.,

Both forms are grammatically correct and the difference in meaning is quite subtle.

Present continuous is used when an arrangement has been made. In other words, a plan or intention is seen as having gone beyond just being an idea and has taken real form. This my mean that an official decision has been taken, or that some steps have been taken (confirming with others, making reservations, taking time off work, buying tickets etc).

Will + verb-ing is used to express expectation or visualisation. We often use it when we are describing something which is seen as part of the normal course of events, including with present time reference. For example:

People will be waking up in Tokyo in a couple of hours.

The Mars Rover will be reaching its next target this afternoon.

Sue will be taking her exam right now.

 

In terms of your example, both forms are possible. You might be talking about a piece of information which has just been confirmed, in which case present continuous is more likely, or you might be imagining the situation next week and how you will feel, in which case will + verb-ing is more likely. Without a clear context it's not possible to say.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Fri, 17/12/2021 - 08:42

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Hello Team. Is the following sentence grammatically incorrect?
- By tomorrow, I'll book the tickets.
Thank you.

Hi Ahmed Imam,

It is correct, but it would be more common to put the verb phrase ("I'll book the tickets") at the start of the sentence, and "by tomorrow" at the end.

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Alaa El Baddini on Sun, 12/12/2021 - 18:38

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I think we (will run - will have run) out of oil in the next hundred years
In the next day, they (will send - will have sent) people to mars
What’s the correct answer please

Hello Alaa El Baddini,

In the first sentence, both answers are possible, but I suppose the answer the teacher had in mind was 'will have run'. In the end, both mean the same thing, but 'will have' looks at the time in the future when there's no oil left and 'will' looks at the time when the last oil is used up.

The second sentence sounds a little odd to me, perhaps because it's out of context. But if I had to choose an answer I suppose I'd choose 'will send'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk.
1- What is the meaning of "in the next day" in sentence No. 2 ?
Also can we use the future continuous or not?
- In the next day, they will be sending people to Mars.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

'in the next day' is not correct in standard British or American English, but I suppose it refers to 'the next day', i.e. the day after today.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Natasa Tanasa on Tue, 07/12/2021 - 22:33

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Dear teachers,

Could you please help me with the following sentences?
Are these sentences correct:

1. I am going to finish my second book by the end of this year. (publish)
---- > My second book will have published by the end of this year.
2. We planted the trees nearly three years ago. (grow) ---- >
This year the trees will have grown for three years?

Hello Natasa Tanasa,

1. The past participle of 'be' is missing from what I suppose is supposed to be a passive sentence: 'My second book will have been published by the end of this year' would be correct, but as written it is not.

2. Your sentence is grammatically correct. It would be a little odd in general use, but in context it would be fine. Though here it looks like a simple sentence transformation exercise and your suggestion looks fine to me. You could also use a continuous form: 'This year the trees will have been growing for three years'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Wed, 01/12/2021 - 16:58

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Hello Team. Could you please help me? Which form is correct or both? Why? Some teachers insist that No. 2 is correct but I believe No. 1 is correct, right?
1- All Egyptian schools will apply E-learning by 2030.
2- All Egyptian schools will have applied E-learning by 2030.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

1 is possible but 2 more clearly states that the application will begin before 2030. Perhaps that's why your colleagues prefer it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again, Kirk. I think the future perfect means that the action (applying) will no longer happen after 2030 and so I think it's not the intended meaning, right?
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

The future perfect does indeed mean that the application will be finished by 2030. Part of the issue here is the exacting meaning of 'apply' in this context.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Ahmed Imam,

I'm sorry that wasn't clear. The problem is that I don't understand the purpose of the sentences that you're asking about, or exactly what they are supposed to mean.

As you say, 'All Egyptian schools will have applied E-learning by 2030' indicates that the application of e-learning will be completed before 2030. But what does it mean to 'apply e-learning'?

If 'apply e-learning' means that new ways of learning with technology will be implemented -- that is, that these new methods will start being used -- then it doesn't mean that e-learning won't be taking place after 2030. What I understand is that it means that all of the planned actions to introduce e-learning will be completed by 2030, but that this does not mean that e-learning will stop being used in 2030.

Hope that makes sense.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Mr. Ahmed Imam,

No. 1: Future Simple Tense. Will / shall + root form of the verb)
It is used to talk about things that haven’t happened yet / to talk about an action or condition that will begin and end in the future.

No. 2: Future Perfect Tense. (Will have / won't have + past participle)
It is used to talk about something that will be completed before a specific time in the future.

I think that’s why some teachers prefer the second one.

All the very best sir,
Feroz

Submitted by LitteBlueGreat on Thu, 25/11/2021 - 07:42

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Hello, there's something makes me confused

In three years' time, I'll be studying medicine.

What I can infer from the above is

Will the studying medicine begin in 2024 if today is in 2021
Or
The studying medicine just starts at time in the future (let's say tommorow in 2021 ) and finish at time in 2024?

Which one do you think is wrong Sir?

Hi LitteBlueGreat,

Actually, that sentence doesn't tell us when the studying begins or ends. It just tells us that the studying will be in progress at that time (in three years' time = in 2024). So, the start must be before 2024, and the end must be after 2024, but that's all we can know from the sentence.

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

Sorry sir If I ask you a lot but Does this sentence have the same meaning like the above?

We'll be starting (the meeting) at six o'clock.

I've come across the sentence on Cambridge Dictionary.

So if the speaker mentions the time point at 6 oclock Does it mean that the meeting actually starts before 6 oclock? Considering that "Start" here is in continuous form..

This verb "start" always makes me puzzled moreover in continuous form. Thanks

Hi LitteBlueGreat,

I see what you mean. This sentence means that the meeting starts at 6 o'clock. It's a different meaning - the future continuous can also show a plan, arrangement or intention. See meaning number 6 on this page:
https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/grammar/english-grammar-referen…

In the sentence about studying medicine, I guess it is possible to understand it with the same meaning - that the studying begins in three years' time (not before then). But it is ambiguous, and I think will be more likely understood as the before/after meaning, so if the speaker wanted to show that the starting time was in exactly three years, the speaker would probably clarify that using a different choice of words, e.g. "In three years' time, I'll be starting my studies".

I hope that helps.

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

But it is ambiguous, and I think will be more likely understood "as the before/after meaning,"

Thanks Sir but could you explain more about a phrase I put punctuation marks above

Hi LitteBlueGreat,

Yes, sure. I mean that for this sentence ("In three years' time, I'll be studying medicine."), I expect most people will understand it to have the meaning I explained in my first comment - the studying will be in progress at that time (i.e. the person will have started studying before that time, and will continue studying after it).

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by GiulianaAndy on Sun, 01/08/2021 - 02:53

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Hello, thank you for the lesson. Excuse me, I have a couple of questions. They are about these 2 sentences: -You can visit us during the first week of July. I won't be working then. What does "then" mean in that sentence? Is it related to the future continuous tense? - The guests are coming at 8 p.m. I'll have finished cooking by then. What does "by then" mean in that sentence? Is it related to the future perfect tense? Thank you very much

Hi GiulianaAndy,

In these sentences, then means 'that time' or 'at that time'. It refers to a time that was mentioned earlier in the conversation ('the first week of July' / '8 p.m.'). So, the speaker doesn't need to repeat that information.

No, it's not directly required by these particular tenses. But more generally, these tenses are often used with references to a specific future time (using then or other words) to make their meaning clear.

Have a look at this Cambridge Dictionary page for more examples. I hope it helps!

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

an easily understood explanation but I hope you give me other explanations again, here :

Try to call before 8 o'clock. After that, we'll be watching the match.

So, What does "That" in "After That" refer to?

A. Activity of calling itself
B. The time after 8 o'clock

Thanks

Hi LitteBlueGreat,

It probably refers to A, the call. To refer to a time, the reference word is normally 'then' --> After then, we'll be watching the match.

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

But again sir, in relation to my second question above.

Considering the lack of the reason the speaker gives suggestion to their freind to call before 8 o'clock and what will actually happens at 8 oclock

Is it possible that I infer that the match will start at 8 oclock so that they will not be disturbed by any other activity (i.e calling) ?

Hi LitteBlueGreat,

Yes, definitely! I think that is the most likely interpretation.

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by DaniWeebKage on Sun, 18/07/2021 - 13:53

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Dear Team, 1) I am changing my internet supplier tonight so I might not get your email until tomorrow. 2) I will be changing my internet supplier tonight so I might not get your email until tomorrow. Which Tense is correct? And why?