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


Although I am at ease with "Future perfect" and "Future continuous," I am not very sure about "Future perfect continuous" sentences. Would you please explain that?

Hello Overcomer,

An example of a future perfect continuous sentence would be:

'He will have been working on that for two weeks by the weekend.'

We can contrast this with the simple form:

'He will have worked on that for two weeks by the weekend.'

In this example, as is often the case with continuous forms, the difference is a small one and is a question of emphasis rather than fact. In the continuous example we are emphasising the activity (the process) rather than the action or achievement; in the simple example we are looking at the opposite.

In some continuous/simple examples there is a clearer distinction, such as actions which are finished or not finished. For example:

I will have read the book by Tuesday. [it will be finished]
I will have been reading the book for a week by Tuesday. [it's won't be finished then]

However, as we are talking about a form with future meaning these are rather less frequent (the future being more uncertain, by its nature).

You can find more on the continuous aspect here [ ] and more on the perfective aspect here [ ].

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, Peter for the simple and clear explanation.