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 NinaZ on Mon, 04/05/2020 - 11:50

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Hello, I would like to know if this sentence contains a will perfect (future perfect), if so could you explain why the form in question is used. Thank you. His amateurish dud of a bomb will have worked after all.

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 05/05/2020 - 07:05

In reply to by NinaZ

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Hello NinaZ,

It's hard to say for sure without knowing the context, but I would expect that the speaker is making a prediction about something in the future that will tell them that the bomb has exploded.

For example, the speaker might say something like this:

If we see a big cloud of smoke then his amateurish dud of a bomb will have...

The speaker is looking back from a point in the future (seeing the cloud of smoke) and supposing what happened before that (the bomb going off).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by itspb008 on Fri, 10/04/2020 - 16:53

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Can you explain future continuous's 2nd point in more detail?

Hello itspb008,

Continuous forms often suggest an action has a temporary nature. For example:

I live in Edinburgh - this describes my home

I'm living in Edinburgh - this tells you my current situation and suggests it is not permanent

 

Continuous forms with modal verbs can have a similar meaning:

I'll live in Edinburgh.

I'll be living in Edinburgh

 

You can read more about the continuous aspect on this page:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/continuous-aspect

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Sat, 04/04/2020 - 21:21

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Hello. Could you please help me? Is the following sentence correct using the future perfect? Why? - By the year 2030, the internet will have been used by everyone. Thank you.
Hello again. So, what is the difference in meaning between the following two forms? - By the year 2030, the internet will have been used by everyone. - By the year 2030, the internet will be used by everyone. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

The first sentence (will have been used) tells us that everyone will have used the Internet at least once before 2030, but not necessarily that they continue to use it.

The second sentence (will be used) tells us that everyone will be using it not just once but as part of their normal lives at some point before 2030.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by cinzia rosati on Mon, 30/03/2020 - 16:58

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Hello, I would like to know if it is possible to speak about an action that I will have done at a specific moment in the future, which I'm not sure about, by using the modal verbs may and might. I mean if I want to say that "in ten years time I may have made a fortune" is this sentence correct and understandable?

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Sat, 22/02/2020 - 17:37

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Hello. Could you please help me? What is the difference between the following sentences? - This time tomorrow, my mother will have had an operation. - This time tomorrow, my mother will have an operation. - This time tomorrow, my mother will be having an operation. Thank you so much.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

This time tomorrow, my mother will have had an operation.

In this sentence, the operation will be completed at the time specified.

 

This time tomorrow, my mother will have an operation.

In this sentence, the operation will take place (probably begin) at the time specified.

 

This time tomorrow, my mother will be having an operation.

In this sentence, the operation will be in progress (beginning before and not having finished) at the time specified.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by grammarly on Thu, 30/01/2020 - 11:03

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what about the use of there is/are in future continuous? is it grammatically correct? there + will be + noun/subject + gerund there will be guests coming tomorrow. there will be latecomers trying to get in for free. does the intersertion of a noun/subject in the middle of the "will be + gerund"?

Hello grammarly,

The sentences are both grammatically correct.

This is not actually a future continuous form, but rather a present participle (the -ing form) with an adjectival role (describing the noun). It is not a gerund, which would function as a noun.

 

You can make similar sentences with other forms of 'be':

There are latecomers trying to get in for free.

There were latecomers trying to get in for free.

You can also use other verbs:

Paul saw latecomers trying to get in for free.

John will check for latecomers trying to get in for free.

I don't want latecomers trying to get in for free.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Shoaib50 on Tue, 14/01/2020 - 16:28

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Hi team , I need your comment on below two statements. The film will have finished by mid night. The film will have been watching for 3 hours by midnight.

Hi Shoaib50,

The second sentence is not grammatically correct: people watch films; films do not watch anything.

The first sentence is fine, though 'midnight' is one word, not two.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Fri, 20/09/2019 - 07:05

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Hello. Is the following sentence correct using the future perfect? "The moment the train has reached the station, my secretary will have been there to welcome you. " Thank you.

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Fri, 11/10/2019 - 06:57

In reply to by Ahmed Imam

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Hello again. Could please help me? Is the following sentence correct using the future perfect or we must use the future simple? I think that future perfect is not correct. "The moment the train has reached the station, my secretary "will have been"/"will be" there to welcome you. " Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam

Yes, you are right -- the future perfect doesn't work in that situation and the future simple would be the most natural option.

Sorry we somehow missed your earlier comment.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rose Duda on Thu, 19/09/2019 - 14:09

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Hello! This sentence seems right when I hear it said. "When I pay him tomorrow, he will have received everything I owe him" However I am confused with the following. (1) I believe the rule for usage of the future perfect verb is that it needs to be used to indicate an action that happened before the action indicated by the simple future verb (2) The act of receiving can happen only after the act of paying I am confused with these two contradicting thoughts. Appreciate your clarification.

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 20/09/2019 - 05:40

In reply to by Rose Duda

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Hello Rose,

I see what you mean, and you are right about the sentence possibly being inconsistent in that way. A more accurate way to express it would be:

Once he's paid tomorrow, he'll have received everything I owe him.

In your original sentence 'when' is being used with the sense of 'after', which may be confusing. People do not always express themselves logically, and it's not unusual for people to say things that are open to misinterpretation.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Tue, 10/09/2019 - 20:04

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Hello. Is the future continuous correct in the following sentence: - Every thing is arranged. We will be visiting our aunt next week. Or the following one: - Every thing is arranged. We will be visiting our aunt next week. Thank you.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 11/09/2019 - 06:18

In reply to by Ahmed Imam

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Hello Ahmed Imam,

The future continuous is fine there. I think you may have mistyped the sentences, however, as they are identical.

You should write 'everything' as one word here, not two.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sorry for mistyping. Is there a difference in meaning or usage between the two forms? - Every thing is arranged. We will be visiting our aunt next week. - Every thing is arranged. We are visiting our aunt next week. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

First of all, we write 'everything' as one word rather than two.

There is a difference in how we use between 'will' and the present continuous to describe future events.

The present continuous is used for events which are planned and arranged. Thus, you would use are visiting if the visit is already organised with other people in some way, such as talking to your aunt, planning it with your family, taking time off work or buying tickets for the journey.

'Will' implies certainty about the event. This could be simply an expression of determination, or a strong desire.

In the end, the choice depends on the speaker's perspective. Both forms are possible; it depends upon how the speaker sees the event.

You can read more about this on our page about future plans.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sonakshi on Fri, 06/09/2019 - 06:31

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Hi, could you explain the difference between future continuous and future perfect continuous tense, other than the way they are formed.

Hi sonakshi,

The future continous have several uses, so it partly depends on the context. Most often, we use the future continuous to describe an action which will be in progress at a time in the future. The future perfect, on the other hand, is used to look back at an action from a point further in the future. For example:

At 3.00 on Wednesday I'll be meeting my boss.

By 6.00 I'll have finished the meeting.

 

The future perfect continuous is an unusual form. We use when we are looking back on a future event from a point further in the future, and when the event is still ongoing. For example, imagine it is 3.00 and you have been waiting for your train for hour already. Then you hear an announcement that the train will be delayed another two hours and will not arrive before 5.00. You could say this:

By 5.00 I'll have been waiting for three hours!

You are imagining looking back from a point in the future on an event which is still not finished.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter, Thanks for answering, let's assume i say: By 5.00 would be waiting for three hours! would that be wrong. Because i understand that both of them are conveying the same message. if so is the case why all have future perfect tense at all. Another thing, how much difference is created by the usage of "would" or "will". What is the main difference between the usage of both these words.

Hi sonakshi,

We use 'would' when the situation is seen as unlikely or entirely hypothetical, while 'will' suggests a likely or possible situation.

As I said in my earlier comment, will be verb-ing or would be verb-ing forms describe ongoing situations, while will have + verb3 or would have + verb3 describe situations which we are looking back on. In some contexts the only difference is emphasis and the speaker can choose which form best expresses what they want to say, but in other contexts only one is possible. For example, if you want to talk about a completed action then only the perfect form is possible:

If we manage to agree today then we'll have broken the record for the fastest negotiation ever!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Pete, I think your auto corrector may have altered what you had intended to write. "By 6.00 I've have finished the meeting." Regards, Dedub.

Hi Dedub,

Well spotted! You're quite right. I've corrected the post.

Thanks again,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rayhaibara on Wed, 28/08/2019 - 16:15

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Hello britishcouncil. Is there any reason why we use simple present in explaining future perfect. Tx.

Hello rayhaibara,

I'm afraid I'm not sure I understand your question. Could you perhaps provide an example to clarify?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Risa warysha on Sat, 03/08/2019 - 10:42

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Hi Sir Could you tell me what this sentence means? I'll be celebrating my mom's brithday tomorrow. Does it mean I'm going to celebrate it the whole day tomorrow or does it express that I have a plan to celebrate my mom's birthday tomorrow (it doesn't matter what time I celebrate)? Thank you Sir

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 04/08/2019 - 21:52

In reply to by Risa warysha

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Hello Risa warysha

It does mean you have a plan for tomorrow, but what else it exactly means is impossible to say for sure without knowing the precise context. 

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rosario70 on Sun, 16/06/2019 - 10:07

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Hi teachers, i would like to know which is the most informal way with the same meaning of the following sentence: if i had waited for further one hour i would have met his.Thanks in advance .

Hello rosario70

If I've understood what you want to say, I'd recommend 'If I had wait another house, I'd have met him.'

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Dieudonné on Fri, 31/05/2019 - 13:34

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Hmm! I'm happy to learn more about future continuous and future perfect. I am used to translate directly my sentences from french to english and some, that sounds weird and no sense. But now, I know when I have to use these tenses during my talking.

Submitted by Montri on Thu, 16/05/2019 - 15:45

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What is the difference between the following sentence? When will you be arriving? AND When are you going to arrive?
Hello Montri, Both sentences describe future time and have similar meanings. The first sentence ('...will be arriving') describes something that is expected. We use this form to describe things that we see as normal and unsurprising in the future. The second sentence ('...going to...') describes a person's intention or plan. ~ You can read more about ways of talking about the future on these pages: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar/talking-about-future https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/intermediate-grammar/future-plans ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jennief on Wed, 24/04/2019 - 13:49

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Hello Would you ever use 'would' in a future perfect construction? Is there a rule, e.g. By the time I am 30 years old I will have owned a Ferrari. Or would it be: By the time I am 30 years old I would have owned a Ferrari. Thanks!

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 25/04/2019 - 06:48

In reply to by Jennief

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Hello Jennief 'would have owned' doesn't work with 'by the time I am' because 'would have owned' refers to an (unreal) imaginary time and 'by the time I am' refers to a (real) future time. You could say, for example, 'I would have owned a Ferrari when I was 30 is I hadn't been sacked.' This refers to an unreal past time, i.e. a past in which you were not sacked. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by EvgenyAndreev on Wed, 24/04/2019 - 10:58

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No grammar book (and I've got about a dozen of them) explains the difference between Future Simple and Progressive in similar sentences and why they can be used interchangeably. That's why I decided to ask my questions here, and now I seem to understand that, thanks to you.

Submitted by EvgenyAndreev on Tue, 23/04/2019 - 10:07

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Hello, My question concerns one of the uses of Future Progressive. Consider this example: - This time tomorrow I'll be lying on the beach and sunbathing. If I'm not mistaken, we can't use Future Simple here ("I'll lie") because we're dealing with a very short action, which is quite limited in time, and which will be in progress at a particular moment in the future. The same happens in the present: - At the moment I'm lying on the beach and having a tan. (it's not correct to say "I lie", that's perfectly clear). Nevertheless, I've come across a lot of examples in which Future Progressive is used to express long, permanent actions, not limited in time. If these examples referred to the present, then the most appropriate tense would be Simple Present, and not Present Progressive. Example: - In 50 years' time people won't be using petrol to drive their cars. Instead, most of them will be using electricity for that purpose. The "present equivalent" for that would be: - Nowadays, people use petrol to drive their cars. If I'm not mistaken, it's not common to say "Nowadays people are using petrol to drive their cars", because it's a general, permanent action, not limited in time. And it's not a changing situation or trend, which would require the usage of Present Progressive. Other similar examples (all taken from English coursebooks): - Within 50 years people will be living longer lives. - In 10 years’ time I expect I’ll be owning a flat. If we "transfer" them to the present, we'll get: - Nowadays people live to about 75-80. - My family owns a flat and a small cottage in the countryside. So the Progressive changes to the Present. I've also come across lots of similar sentences where Future Simple is used instead of Future Progressive: - In 50 years' time most rich people will live until they are over 100. (instead of "will be living") - The development of intelligent cars means that, by 2030, they will drive themselves. (instead of "will be driving") These are only some random examples among hundreds of similar ones. It seems to me that, when we're talking about long, permanent future actions, which are not limited in time, we can use both Future Progressive and Future Simple interchangeably, while in the present the preference is given to Simple Present, not Present Progressive. - In 50 years' time people won't be using/won't use petrol to drive their cars. Instead, most of them will be using/will use electricity for that purpose. - Nowadays people use petrol to drive their cars and almost nobody uses electricity yet. I would be very grateful to you if you could comment on what I've said above. Am I right in my conclusions? Thank you very much!

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 23/04/2019 - 14:41

In reply to by EvgenyAndreev

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Hello EvgenyAndreev The future progressive, also referred to as the future continuous, is one of several verb forms that have continuous aspect, which can be used to express a variety of meanings (https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar/continuous-aspect). The continuous form in the sentence about lying on the beach at this time tomorrow suggests that you'll already have been there before this time tomorrow and that you will likely continue to be there after this time as well. If people are imagining a specific situation they expect to be in in the future, they often use a future continuous form. Your example is a good one in this case. In contrast, if a friend of yours asks you to go to the cinema with him tomorrow at this time and you looking at your diary and see that tomorrow you've got an appointment with your friends at the beach at exactly the same time, you'd be more likely to say 'I'll be at the beach'. Note also that lying on the beach is something we usually do for awhile, i.e. over time, and this is another meaning the continuous aspect can express. The continuous aspect doesn't necessarily refer to an even that is short in duration, as you've noticed and ask about in other sentences. In the case of people living longer in the future, this is a change or development that is contrasted with the present, when they have shorter lifespans (at least according to the perspective this sentence suggests). If the future simple is used, then people's lifespan is seen more as a simple fact, rather than as something different from the present. As you can see, the continuous aspect can be used not to refer just to time, but is also very often used to show the speaker's perspective on an event or fact. I hope this helps you. Best wishes Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by EvgenyAndreev on Mon, 22/04/2019 - 17:49

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Hello, In one of the previous messages, two sentences were discussed: 1) I think astronauts will land on Mars by the year 2020. 2) I think astronauts will have landed on Mars by the year 2020. Kirk replied that both alternatives are possible. If you don't mind, I'd like to add a question of my own. 1) Does it mean that we can always use both Future Simple and Future Perfect interchangeably in similar sentences with 'by'? For example: - By the year 2040 the world's population will reach/will have reached 9 billion. - We will get back/will have got back to the hotel by seven. - In ten years' time I'll get married and have three kids / I'll have got married and had three kids. Perhaps the degree of certainty might be different? What do you think? Thank you very much for your answer!

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 23/04/2019 - 06:42

In reply to by EvgenyAndreev

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Hello EvgenyAndreev, Both options are possible and there is no difference in meaning in these examples. The by-phrase already contains a sense of 'complete before' so it makes no difference if 'will' or 'will have' is used. ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by David on Sun, 03/03/2019 - 13:06

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Hi sir, Considering the two phrase, "In five years time","in 10 year's time", which one is correct? I mean the word "years" without apostrophe 's' is correct or the word with apostrophe 's ,is correct. Thanks ,

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 03/03/2019 - 17:40

In reply to by David

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Hello again David

The correct spelling is 'in five years' time' or 'in ten years' time'. This apostrophe indicates possession (of a sort) and it comes after the letter 's' because 'years' is plural.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Harry New on Wed, 13/02/2019 - 15:25

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I promise I’ll have done all the work by next Saturday. In this sentence, is it possible that the person finish the work on Saturday?