Do you know when to use the future continuous (e.g. I'll be studying) and future perfect (e.g. I'll have studied)?

The future continuous (will be + ‘ing’ form) and the future perfect (will have + past participle) tenses are used to talk about events in the future.

Future continuous

  • Don’t ring at 8 o’clock. I’ll be watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
  • This time tomorrow we’ll be sitting on the beach. I can’t wait!

We use the future continuous to talk about something that will be in progress at or around a time in the future.

  • Don’t phone grandma now, she’ll be having dinner.
  • The kids are very quiet. They’ll be doing something wrong, I know it!

These sentences are not about the future but we can use the future continuous to talk about what we assume is happening at the moment.

Future Perfect

  • Do you think you will have finished it by next Thursday?
  • In 5 years time I’ll have finished university and I’ll be able to earn some money at last.

We use the future perfect to say that something will be finished by a particular time in the future.

We often use the future perfect with ‘by’ or ‘in

  • I think astronauts will have landed on Mars by the year 2020.
  • I’ll have finished in an hour and then you can use the computer.

By’ means ‘not later than a particular time’ and ‘in’ means 'within a period of time’. We don’t know exactly when something will finish.

  • I promise I’ll have done all the work by next Saturday.

We don’t know exactly when he will finish the work – maybe Thursday, maybe Friday – but definitely before Saturday. 


Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


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.

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.

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.



The LearnEnglish Team

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.

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.



The LearnEnglish Team

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've 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.



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!



The LearnEnglish Team

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