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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


Could you please explain the difference between the following sentences ? Thank you very much.
1) I think astronauts will land on Mars by the year 2020.
2) I think astronauts will have landed on Mars by the year 2020.

Hi sina.koohbour,

Both sentences make the same prediction. The difference is that the verb form in the second one more specifically indicates that the action of landing on Mars will already be complete by 2020. The first sentence also indicates this idea with the preposition by, but the verb form is a bit less specific.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

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.