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

Language level

Intermediate: B1
Upper intermediate: B2

Hello Elena,

First of all, there are a couple of other pages that describe different uses of the future continuous that I'd recommend you read. The first is a current BBC Learning English page and the second is an older BBC Learning English page.

I wouldn't say that the future continuous by itself refers to a future event that's impossible to change. Rather, as an instance of the continuous aspect, it shows a different perspective on the future event. It's as if the event is going to happen whether you want it to or not, either because it's already planned or because it's something that you perceive that will happen anyway, despite whatever may happen now. Much of the time both A) 'I'm meeting with Mary tomorrow' and B) 'I'll be meeting with Mary tomorrow' could be used in the same context, but, for example, B could (but not necessarily - context and you the speaker's conception of the event are key) also imply or indicate that you see it as a meeting that will take all your time.

By the way, the future continuous can also be used to make predictions about future periods of time (e.g. 'When I'm 75 years old, I'll be living in Stockholm'). It's really a rather versatile tense!

I hope this helps you a bit.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

Hi sir Could you tell me which one is true? We'll know/ we'll have known a bit more this weekend when we'll research the whole thing on the internet.

Hello Puckerino,

I would say the first is correct (we'll know) as the reference is to a future time. We use the future perfect (we'll have known) when the time reference is to a point before a point in the future, and that is not the case here.

The verb in the second clause should probably be present simple (when we research) as we generally use present forms after time linkers such as this.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team 

Could anybody explain the meaning of the following sentence: The New Company of the Year WILL HAVE GONE PUBLIC LAST YEAR? Why LAST year. The sentence was taken from Pass Cambridge BEC Vantage Self-study practice tests, p.9. thanks

Hello Natalia,

The future perfect can be used to say that you think that something happened in the past – that is the way it is being used in this sentence. This is quite an advanced form that is not used all that often, which is why you won't find it explained elsewhere on our site.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I will be learning in new technologies to get my position higher than now. (Future Continuous) Most lady will be wearing make-up when they go for sitting interview. (Assuming) I will have to change my job in next year. (Future Perfect with "in") I will have to start own-business by the year 2020. (Future Perfect with "by")
Hi. I have a question about Future Perfect Continuous. Is it possible to use 'since' in this tense, like to say that: In 2020 I will have been living in France since 2017. I know that since is generally used for the past but is it possible to use it anyhow in a future tense?? Thanks in advance for your answer.
Hi, I'm confused by the last example: "I promise I’ll have done all the work by next Saturday." Can I say: "I promise I'll finish all the work by next Saturday. " ? What's the difference? Thanks! Daisy

Hello cleaner,

Yes, you can say that. The two forms take slightly different perspectives on the event, but they mean the same thing. The form you asked about (with 'will') is more commonly used than the future perfect form.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hi.. can i say "I think Alex will leave the quiz?" it doesn't satisfy any parallelism. 'think' is in the present tense and 'will leave' is in future. Is there anything wrong in my judgment? Kindly correct me please

Hello wisefool,

Yes, that's a correctly formed sentence. It uses 'will' to make a prediction about the future.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, We usually say that many and much are used in negative sentences, even so , on the Cambridge dictionary there a lot of positive sentences about many such as There are too many people chasing too few jobs, Rachel was at the party with her many admirers. And second question, Could you explain me difference between a coffee and some coffee (e.g what is a coffee ? what is some coffee ) and some ice cream, an ice cream. P.S i know that they are countable and uncountable but i can not imagine them as a chocolate and some chocolate ...

Hi seaara,

The key word in your first question is 'usually'. When we analyse frequency we can see that 'much' and 'many' are used most often in negative sentences, but they can be and are used in affirmative sentences too and that is why examples of these are given.

The countable forms of the words you give are commonly bought or served units. So, if I say 'I have some coffee' then I mean the substance (beans, powder, liquid), but if I say 'I have a coffee' then I mean a cup of coffee. Similarly, an ice cream means one cone, for example, and a chocolate means one piece from a box.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Sir I have read these example about the future perfect: Three years from now we'll have been together for a decade. In three years' time we'll have been together for a decade. could please tell me what is the difference between them? and according to use by and in Can I say I will have finished my course in or by Monday I mean Can I use in with days in the future perfect and can I say I will have finished my course in the summer too I know we can say by the summer and can I use at too like in this example: at the end of this course I will have known a lot about the future perfect. Thank you, Sir

Hello sunrisereham,

'In three years' time' is less common in informal contexts, but otherwise there's no real difference in meaning between the first two sentences you ask about.

The preposition 'in' isn't used before the names of days of the week in general; when referring to time, 'by' means 'not later than' or 'at or before' – you can see some more example sentences of it with this meaning in the Cambridge Dictionary.

As for your last questions, 'by the summer' is a bit different to 'in the summer', as it specifies that you'll have finished before (or perhaps at the beginning of) the summer, whereas 'in' means sometime during the summer months. 'at' is OK in the sentence you ask about since the phrase after it already refers to the end of that time period, but 'by' is probably more common in that kind of context, i.e. with the future perfect.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir, Can we say: Will you be seeing Lisa tomorrow? Recall we do not use "see" with continuous tenses. Would it be better to use simple tense in this case? Thank you

Hello id347627,

When 'see' is used to describe what we do with our eyes then we generally do not use in in a continuous form. However, here 'see' means something different. It means here 'meet' and so it can be in a continuous form ('Will you be meeting...?').

There are other verbs which function in a similar way. For example, 'have' is not used generally in continuous forms when it refers to possession. However, 'have' can be used with other meanings such as 'take' ('He's having a shower') or drink ('They're having a coffee in the cafe').

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"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?"
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

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

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

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

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