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Future continuous and future perfect

Do you know how to say what you will be doing or will have done at a specific time in the future?

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

Comments

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

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 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

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

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

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