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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 deepuips,

It's not unusual to hear both 'could be... by now' and 'could have been... by now'. As I said in my earlier reply, one focuses on something before the time of speaking, whereas the other focuses on a state at the time of speaking. For example:

The dinner might have been cooked by now. [it might be finished any time before the present - let's see if we can eat]

The dinner might be cooked by now. [we'd better check the oven because if we leave it too long it might burn]

Remember that language is highly context-dependent; in order to understand it's use you need to think about it in a concrete situation.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello deepuips,

'Could have been' refers to a possible but unreal outcome in the past - becoming a millionaire before the moment of speaking. 'Could be' would refer to a possible situation now - being a millionaire at the moment of speaking. One looks at something which happended before speaking and the other looks at a state at the moment of speaking.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


Thank you Peter M sir.I have understood what you have said.On that basis.Please look at this

If I were to apple the same in past then would these two sentence also mean the same

1.I received the book by three o'clock.
2.I had received the book by three o'clock.

Do the above two mean the same sir? If not what is the difference between the two?Please explain to me in simple terms.You, I think, have explained to me so very well, that I feel indebted to you.

Thanking you,

Best wishes,


Hello Deepuips,

The forms here are past simple and past perfect. Past simple ('I received...') is used to describe a completed action in the past. Past perfect ('I had received...') is also used to describe a completed action in the past, but one which has some relation to another, later, action also in the past. This means that the meaning, as such, is not necessarily different, but that we would use the past perfect when there is another action to act as a point of reference.

In other words, if we are simply talking about getting the book then the first sentence is sufficient and correct. If we are also going to talk about another even, after getting the book, to which our getting the book is relevant in some way, then the second sentence would be used. For example:

He arrived at three thirty, but as I had received the book by three o'clock that gave me time to familiarise myself with its contents.

As you can see, context is crucial here. All perfective forms relate an action to another time and/or another action, which is why context is so important.

For more information about the past perfect look here.

For more information about past forms look here.

For more information about perfective forms look here.

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter M sir.I sincerely feel you are the best.

Sir as you said about past perfect that simple future that the action may get completed or not, similarly can I infer the same about the simple past?

I mean, when we say

1.I received the book by three o'clock. Can it also mean that I may have received at three o'clock?


2.I had received the book by three o'clock.Can I restrict it to mean that I received it surely before three o'clock?

I mean additionally from the Simple Past and Past Perfect distinction can the above also be one of the differences like we have in the case of Simple Future and Future Perfect?

Thank you nice Peter M sir.

Best wishes.

Hello deepuips,

The distinction is not that one was before three o'clock and one may have been before or at three o'clock; if we say 'by three o'clock then we mean that when that time came we already had it. The distinction is whether we are just describing one event (in which case we use the past simple) or whether we wish to relate one even to a later one in some way (the past perfect). Take a look at my examples in the last answer - they should show this distinction.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi teacher , any recommendation to improve my grammar and writing ? I stopped at simple present , simple past and continuous tense..certain grammar I'm quite confused . for example , why u say/said that ? Especial how to ask questions. Please advice thanks

Hi tclian,

There's some advice on our Help page that might be useful for you, and I'd also suggest you try one of the sections in Listen & Watch. For example, when you work through the Elementary Podcasts, you work on your listening comprehension, grammar and vocabulary all at once, and most people find it more interesting that working through grammar pages alone.

I'm afraid I don't understand your question about 'say/said' - could you please rephrase it?

Best regards,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi everyone

This site seems to be very helpful. I really appreciate. Thanks to you all for your support