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

Take your language skills and your career to the next level
Get unlimited access to our self-study courses for only £5.99/month.

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

Permalink

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

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

Permalink

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

Permalink

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

Permalink
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

Permalink
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?

Hello DaniWeebKage,

Both are correct. We use the present continuous to speak about arranged future plans (such as appointments) and the future continuous can be used to speak about what will be happening at a point of time in the future.

In the situation that I suppose you are imagining with these sentences, I can't think of any reason for using one versus the other. But in other situations, you might say 'I'm changing my ISP tonight' to say, for example, that you can't go to the cinema with someone. This is a context where you're speaking of scheduling, i.e. future arrangements.

You might say 'I'll be changing my ISP tonight' when, for example, someone comments on what they'll be doing tonight, e.g. watching an important rugby match.

But this is not to say that the other response would be impossible in these situations.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Mr.Kirk
May i ask if there is any difference between using "will" and "be going to" in the future progressive, the future perfect and the future perfect progressive
I will be waiting....vs.....i am going to be waiting....for example
Are they the same or different?
I read about the difference between these two verbs in the simple future, but i need to know if they are similarly different in the other future tenses too.
Many thanks in advance

Hello Carolomran,

Yes, in general their difference in the future continuous is similar to their difference in the future simple.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Timothy555 on Sat, 12/06/2021 - 12:00

Permalink
Hello, referring to your example above for future continuous tense, your article mentioned "When you come out of school tomorrow, I'll be boarding a plane" as an example of the use of the future continuous tense for actions that will be in progress at a specific time in the future. Am I right to say that "When you come out of school" refers to a future action which serves as a time marker (i.e. a specific time in the future), and "I'll be boarding a plane" refers to a longer action in the future which will be in progress at a specific future time represented by the action of "coming out of school" (so this means that the longer action of boarding the plane started anytime before the action of "coming out of school occurred", and continued after the action of "coming out of school" occurred). Is my understanding correct? Thanks.

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Mon, 12/04/2021 - 05:03

Permalink
Hello team. Could you please tell me which form is correct? Why? 1- In five years' time, many projects will be carried out. 2- In five years' time, many projects will have been carried out. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

In 1, the projects won't necessarily be finished in five years' time. In 2, the projects will have already been finished by then.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Maahir on Thu, 08/04/2021 - 07:57

Permalink
Hi Sir, I am wondering the difference between the Future continues and the P continues with going to. for example I am going to buy a new car by next month or I will be buying a new car by next month. if I ma not wrong we use both "going to and Future Continues" to talk about future plans so, my question is what is the difference between the two tenses and which one we use to where? Thanks in advance.

Submitted by Jonathan R on Fri, 09/04/2021 - 11:41

In reply to by Maahir

Permalink

Hi Maahir,

Both going to and the future continuous show plans, but the future continuous shows a higher degree of certainty. If you say I will be buying a new car, it shows that you are very sure that this will actually happen. If you say I am going to buy a new car, it doesn't show such certainty. Buying a new car may be just your dream or intention.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jack Red on Sun, 21/03/2021 - 10:05

Permalink
Hi, I looked at Cambridge's grammar book and it is written that future simple is used for the things that will definetly happen and we cannot control. Example: Jill will be 2 years old next month. The colour of the moon will turn into red tomorrow night. Also, it is written that future continuous is used for the things that will defiently happen as a consequence of a routine or arrangement. Example: He will be working as a lifeguard in the summer. Don't ask him. I'll be seeing him anyway in the meeting. These 2 are too similar and confusing. For example, there is a question in my grammar book. It is like this: I ... turn 20 in 2 weeks' time. A)will turn B)will be turning. I thought that either one could be used but the answer is B. I could not understand why. Can you explain it tome please?

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 22/03/2021 - 06:55

In reply to by Jack Red

Permalink

Hello Jack Red,

You are right that both forms (will turn and will be turning) are correct here.

 

I think the explanations you quote are only examples of uses, not the only uses possible. It's quite possible to use will + verb to describe choices (things we control), for example, as well as things we do not control. It's also quite possible to use will be + verbing to describe things that we expect (in the present as well as the future) as part of a normal and predictable process.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Zuzanna on Thu, 11/02/2021 - 10:10

Permalink
Dear Sir, In my book is a sentence: " We also use will be-ing to talk about complete actions in the future." Could you explain to me what ''complete actions'' mean? Can I use Future Continuous to talk about what will be finished in the future? I thought we use Future Simple then. Please help me. Best regards, Zuzanna

Hello Zuzanna,

I'm afraid I can't think of an example for that usage off the top of my head -- that sounds strange to me. Sorry!

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Teresa R. on Tue, 09/02/2021 - 10:12

Permalink
Hi. I have a question about this sentence: “I’ve never felt more invisible than when I’m traveling with her. She’ll be wearing a neon Gucci sweatsuit and a pair of white pumps”. Is “She’ll be wearing” future continuous, even if the action described is not in the future, but it’s something that the person that the speaker knows usually does?

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 09/02/2021 - 14:21

In reply to by Teresa R.

Permalink

Hello Paula81,

I'd need to see the full context for these sentences to be able to explain the future continuous form here with full confidence, but I expect that 'will' is being used to talk about typical behaviour here. It sounds as if the writer is thinking of what typically happens when he or she travels with this person.

This is an advanced use of 'will' that is analogous to the use of 'would' to speak about typical past behaviour. You can see a short explanation of this use of 'will' under the section Habitual events on this Cambridge Dictionary page; there's an explanation of this use of 'would' on our Talking about the past page, under Past events and situations.

Hope this helps you make sense of it -- it's great that you noticed it!

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SaraZaber on Mon, 08/02/2021 - 12:24

Permalink
Which sentence is correct? The revision of Mid Term Exam will be started on Monday. Or The revision of Mid Term Exam will be starting(will start)on Monday. I want to tell the students that their revision is going to start from Monday, in this case which of the above two sentences are correct?

Hello SaraZaber,

You could use either of the sentences, but I'd recommend the second one. If you use the passive voice (first sentence), it suggests the revision is more mechanical, as if it were something that will happen whether or not the students participate. The second one doesn't have this same sense.

It's a subtle difference and up to you which is better. You could also make it even more active by saying 'We will begin the revision for the mid-term exam on Monday'.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

When given as a 'Notice' shall I still use the first sentence? (will be started)

Hello again SaraZaber,

I would use the second one. The first one is grammatically correct, but sounds more formal than any situation I've ever taught in. But if you think the first one is more appropriate for your context, that might be a better choice.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Htoo Sandi Soe Moe on Fri, 15/01/2021 - 18:01

Permalink
Sir, 1. I am going to study for Master degree this year. 2. I will be studying for Master degree this year. Which one is correct? Please explain me. Is it correct using Master degree?

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 17/01/2021 - 08:40

In reply to by Htoo Sandi Soe Moe

Permalink

Hello Htoo Sandi Soe Moe,

Both are possible. The first version (with going to) suggests that this is your plan or intention but may change. The second version (with will be studying) suggests that the situation is certain and no longer just a plan or a hope.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team