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

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Submitted by i.leonidas on Wed, 09/08/2017 - 06:54

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"He will be tired because he will have been exercising so hard." I came across this sentence on some other site and found two members arguing over the correct meaning of this sentence. One argued the sentence meant "the person will be tired in future because of the exercise he will be doing, the exercise being already completed by the time he feels tired"; implying that the action of exercising will get stopped by then. The other glued himself to the opinion that "he will be tired because of the exercise that will still be going on at that moment from some definite point of time in past"; implying that the action will be continuing at that moment. I don't know if I have made my points clear or not but I hope I have done so. So what I want to ask is which one is the correct explanation of the sentence? Can anyone please help me through this?

Hello i.leonidas,

We normally don't comment on content from other sources, but since this is quite specific I'll tell you how I see it. The continuous aspect used here (in 'will have been exercising') can refer to different aspects of the action being described, so it's not actually completely clear without the context or more specific language. I'd say that it's more likely for the exercise to have finished at the time of speaking, but it is possible that it's still ongoing.

I hope that makes sense. 

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ei Ei Zin on Sun, 06/08/2017 - 16:08

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I'll have completed car loan repayment by 2020 :)

Submitted by Ei Ei Zin on Sun, 06/08/2017 - 16:07

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This time next year I'll be staying in somewhere of USA I'll have completed car loan payment in 2020 :) Don't ring me at tomorrow 9PM. I'll be watching movie at cinema with my boyfriend :)

Submitted by sanjoy on Thu, 13/07/2017 - 13:42

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i have to have dinner.is it correct

Hello sanjoy,

I already answered your question on another page! Please be patient and don't ask your question more than once. We try to respond quickly, but make no guarantees about how fast we will do so.

Thanks for your understanding.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ihab1000 on Fri, 07/07/2017 - 18:07

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What is the best choice in the following sentence? - By 2030, well paid jobs …………. available in Egypt. a) will be b) had been c) will have been d) were being I myself was confused between a and c but I think that a is the best choice.Really I need your help.

Hello ihab1000,

The correct answer is (b). For (c) to be correct there would need to be a time reference of some kind - 'will have been... for twenty years', for example.

Please note that generally we don't provide answers to tasks and exercises from elsewhere. If we did this then we'd end up doing people's homework and tests for them, which is not our role.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by JakiGeh on Sat, 06/05/2017 - 15:40

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Hello, ''As you will have noticed he has new glasses'' Can this be indicating that ''you'' noticed in the past that ''he'' has new glasses? Thank you

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 07/05/2017 - 07:19

In reply to by JakiGeh

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Hello JakiGeh,

Yes, the sentence here means that the speaker expects that you already know this. In other words, the speaker does not think that the information about his new glasses is news to you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter I didn't understand the point. The speaker does not consider the information as the news by using "as" or "future perfect"? Does "future perfect" always suggest already known information? Regards

Hello Sanazi,

The use of 'will have noticed' here is key. Compare these:

 

As you will have noticed... [at some point before now]

As you will notice... [in the future when you see him]

 

'Will have' here is a prediction or a guess about the past. It means something like 'I am sure that you have already...'

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by claudiaes on Sun, 06/11/2016 - 11:54

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In the sentence "Probably, when these guys *will be* older, they will have the same attitude." I know the first one should be in simple present (when these guys are older, the will have...) but, why? We've always been taught that to use the present to refer to the future, we must be talking abut something planned or scheduled, and this is not the case... Thanks for helping!

Hello claudiaes,

Although in general the present tense is used to refer to the present, in fact it can actually be used to refer to the past (e.g. in stories), the present (e.g. habits) and the future (e.g. fixed plans)! As for this specific context, which is a time clause (this one begins with the word 'when'), the present simple is used here, even though you're referring to the future. You can see a bit more about this on our time clauses page.

By the way, this is very similar to Spanish, which wouldn't allow a future tense here, but rather a present subjunctive. In Catalan and French, a future tense is possible, but I believe a present subjunctive is also possible here, or at least it is in Catalan.

I hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Elka0507 on Mon, 24/10/2016 - 07:43

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Dear the LearnEnglish Team, I've been reading English grammar fora and come across a post about the difference between the use of Future Progressive and that of Present Progresive. Something like 'We use Present Progressive when we talk about arrangements but we have some influence / choice. On the contrary, Future Progressive expresses something inevitable, beyond our power to change'. There are a few examples. I'm seeing my dentist tomorrow (to emphacise I've already booked an arrangement) vs I'll be seeing my dentist tomorrow (to emphacise there's nothing I can do about it, sorry) - btw I'm wondering if you want to convey by this it's impossible to change the plan and like go somewhere else instead or you've got a terrible toothache and just can't wait any longer... I'm working with Mary tomorrow vs I'll be working with Mary tomorrow (like today is Tuesday and I always work with Mary on Tuesdays?) I'm meeting with my friends next week vs I'll be meeting with my friends next week (a sort of tradition to meet every week, every month?) But I also heard the sentences in Future Continuous in videos for EFL learners, e.g. We'll be doing some exercises bla. Maybe because in every video it's done, like a routine? Have I got it right? Some speakers say all future forms are used pretty interchangeably and maybe I'm just overanalyzing that. I found a sentence 'I'm afraid you will not be coming home tonight' and I can't figure out why Future Progressive is used there. I'd be happy if you will clarify it. Thanks in advance, Elena

Hello Elena,

First of all, there are a couple of other pages that describe different uses of the future continuous that I'd recommend you read. The first is a current BBC Learning English page and the second is an older BBC Learning English page.

I wouldn't say that the future continuous by itself refers to a future event that's impossible to change. Rather, as an instance of the continuous aspect, it shows a different perspective on the future event. It's as if the event is going to happen whether you want it to or not, either because it's already planned or because it's something that you perceive that will happen anyway, despite whatever may happen now. Much of the time both A) 'I'm meeting with Mary tomorrow' and B) 'I'll be meeting with Mary tomorrow' could be used in the same context, but, for example, B could (but not necessarily - context and you the speaker's conception of the event are key) also imply or indicate that you see it as a meeting that will take all your time.

By the way, the future continuous can also be used to make predictions about future periods of time (e.g. 'When I'm 75 years old, I'll be living in Stockholm'). It's really a rather versatile tense!

I hope this helps you a bit.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by Puckerino on Tue, 04/10/2016 - 20:16

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Hi sir Could you tell me which one is true? We'll know/ we'll have known a bit more this weekend when we'll research the whole thing on the internet.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 05/10/2016 - 07:16

In reply to by Puckerino

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Hello Puckerino,

I would say the first is correct (we'll know) as the reference is to a future time. We use the future perfect (we'll have known) when the time reference is to a point before a point in the future, and that is not the case here.

The verb in the second clause should probably be present simple (when we research) as we generally use present forms after time linkers such as this.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team 

Submitted by Natalia_Moscow on Mon, 05/09/2016 - 09:22

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Could anybody explain the meaning of the following sentence: The New Company of the Year WILL HAVE GONE PUBLIC LAST YEAR? Why LAST year. The sentence was taken from Pass Cambridge BEC Vantage Self-study practice tests, p.9. thanks

Hello Natalia,

The future perfect can be used to say that you think that something happened in the past – that is the way it is being used in this sentence. This is quite an advanced form that is not used all that often, which is why you won't find it explained elsewhere on our site.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by maynaing on Fri, 08/07/2016 - 04:37

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I will be learning in new technologies to get my position higher than now. (Future Continuous) Most lady will be wearing make-up when they go for sitting interview. (Assuming) I will have to change my job in next year. (Future Perfect with "in") I will have to start own-business by the year 2020. (Future Perfect with "by")

Submitted by kudlata on Thu, 30/06/2016 - 08:13

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Hi. I have a question about Future Perfect Continuous. Is it possible to use 'since' in this tense, like to say that: In 2020 I will have been living in France since 2017. I know that since is generally used for the past but is it possible to use it anyhow in a future tense?? Thanks in advance for your answer.

Hello kudlata,

Yes, you can use 'since' with the future perfect continuous – your sentence is perfect! Congratulations!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by cleaner0728 on Thu, 23/06/2016 - 03:09

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Hi, I'm confused by the last example: "I promise I’ll have done all the work by next Saturday." Can I say: "I promise I'll finish all the work by next Saturday. " ? What's the difference? Thanks! Daisy

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 23/06/2016 - 06:15

In reply to by cleaner0728

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Hello cleaner,

Yes, you can say that. The two forms take slightly different perspectives on the event, but they mean the same thing. The form you asked about (with 'will') is more commonly used than the future perfect form.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by wisefool on Mon, 20/06/2016 - 10:47

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hi.. can i say "I think Alex will leave the quiz?" it doesn't satisfy any parallelism. 'think' is in the present tense and 'will leave' is in future. Is there anything wrong in my judgment? Kindly correct me please

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 20/06/2016 - 11:17

In reply to by wisefool

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Hello wisefool,

Yes, that's a correctly formed sentence. It uses 'will' to make a prediction about the future.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by seaara on Sun, 29/05/2016 - 21:37

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Hi, We usually say that many and much are used in negative sentences, even so , on the Cambridge dictionary there a lot of positive sentences about many such as There are too many people chasing too few jobs, Rachel was at the party with her many admirers. And second question, Could you explain me difference between a coffee and some coffee (e.g what is a coffee ? what is some coffee ) and some ice cream, an ice cream. P.S i know that they are countable and uncountable but i can not imagine them as a chocolate and some chocolate ...

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 30/05/2016 - 06:55

In reply to by seaara

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Hi seaara,

The key word in your first question is 'usually'. When we analyse frequency we can see that 'much' and 'many' are used most often in negative sentences, but they can be and are used in affirmative sentences too and that is why examples of these are given.

The countable forms of the words you give are commonly bought or served units. So, if I say 'I have some coffee' then I mean the substance (beans, powder, liquid), but if I say 'I have a coffee' then I mean a cup of coffee. Similarly, an ice cream means one cone, for example, and a chocolate means one piece from a box.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sunrisereem on Fri, 22/04/2016 - 13:28

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Hello, Sir I have read these example about the future perfect: Three years from now we'll have been together for a decade. In three years' time we'll have been together for a decade. could please tell me what is the difference between them? and according to use by and in Can I say I will have finished my course in or by Monday I mean Can I use in with days in the future perfect and can I say I will have finished my course in the summer too I know we can say by the summer and can I use at too like in this example: at the end of this course I will have known a lot about the future perfect. Thank you, Sir

Hello sunrisereham,

'In three years' time' is less common in informal contexts, but otherwise there's no real difference in meaning between the first two sentences you ask about.

The preposition 'in' isn't used before the names of days of the week in general; when referring to time, 'by' means 'not later than' or 'at or before' – you can see some more example sentences of it with this meaning in the Cambridge Dictionary.

As for your last questions, 'by the summer' is a bit different to 'in the summer', as it specifies that you'll have finished before (or perhaps at the beginning of) the summer, whereas 'in' means sometime during the summer months. 'at' is OK in the sentence you ask about since the phrase after it already refers to the end of that time period, but 'by' is probably more common in that kind of context, i.e. with the future perfect.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by id347627 on Tue, 19/04/2016 - 23:15

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Hello Sir, Can we say: Will you be seeing Lisa tomorrow? Recall we do not use "see" with continuous tenses. Would it be better to use simple tense in this case? Thank you

Hello id347627,

When 'see' is used to describe what we do with our eyes then we generally do not use in in a continuous form. However, here 'see' means something different. It means here 'meet' and so it can be in a continuous form ('Will you be meeting...?').

There are other verbs which function in a similar way. For example, 'have' is not used generally in continuous forms when it refers to possession. However, 'have' can be used with other meanings such as 'take' ('He's having a shower') or drink ('They're having a coffee in the cafe').

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mema abdelhamid on Wed, 06/04/2016 - 00:09

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Hi sir I wonder when we used futue perfect and future continuous we sure 100% that it will happen like I think astronauts will have landed on mars on the year 2020. Don't phone grandma now she will be having dinner . The last example do i'm sure that she having dinner so i told him don't phone

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 06/04/2016 - 07:41

In reply to by Mema abdelhamid

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Hi Mema abdelhamid,

I wouldn't say it's 100% certain. You can speculate about things that seem unlikely. For example, it's fine to say 

I think astronauts will maybe have landed on Mars by the year 2020.

Future perfect describes an event in the future which will be completed by another time in the future. It does not necessarily imply certainty. Future continuous describes an event which we expect to be in progress at a particular time, but also does not imply certainty. For example:

Don't phone grandma now because there's a chance she will be having dinner.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sunrisereem on Sun, 03/04/2016 - 12:40

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Hello, Sir could you please tell me what is the deference between I'll be thinking of you when you go into hospital. and I'll will think of you when you go into hospital. and if i say I will be writing for you. that means it happen regularly. Thank you, Sir

Hello sunrisereham,

A lot of these distinctions depend on the context, so it's hard to differentiate all examples.

I'll be thinking of you when you go into hospital  -  this means the person will do this repeatedly or continuously while the person is in hospital, not just once.

I'll will think of you when you go into hospital  -  this suggests that the person will think about them once, not repeatedly.

I will be writing to you  -  ('to', I think, not 'for') this really depends on the context. It could mean regularly (the most likely option), or it could mean that the action will be in progress at a certain time (less likely, but possible).

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sunrisereem on Sun, 27/03/2016 - 12:09

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Hello, Sir according to use the future continuous to talk about what we assume is happening at the moment. Don’t phone grandma now, she’ll be having dinner. The kids are very quiet. They’ll be doing something wrong, I know it! what the difference if I say she is having dinner they are doing something wrong And I have read this topic recently: We use will (or won't) to indicate that we think a present situation is certain You will know that John and Sheila are engaged. (= you already know) If I say you know that John and Sheila are engaged is that correct too? Thank you, Sir

Hello sunrisereham,

When we use 'will be [verb]ing' we are guessing based on what we expect at a given time. When we use 'are [verb]ing' we are sure.

Similarly, in your second example when you use 'will' you are saying 'this is what I expect to be the case', while when you use the present simple you are stating a fact which is certain.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by naell on Tue, 22/03/2016 - 20:33

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hi all i'm new here but l've really learned a lots of things thank you a lot

Submitted by sunrisereem on Mon, 21/03/2016 - 16:11

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Hello, Sir What is the difference between future continuous and present continuous for talking about future in those examples: At 8 o'clock I will be travelling tomorrow Next Friday the president will be clebreting ten years in power At 8 o'clock I'm traveling tomorrow Next Friday the president is celebrating ten years in power Thank you

Hello sunrisereham,

The present continuous is used to talk about fixed events in the future in a more general way and the future continuous to speak about events that are expected to happen in the normal course of events, almost as if they were inevitable. This is especially true in the case of the president above – there's little that can stop the fact that he'll have been in power for 10 years. In the case of the person travelling, there could be the sense that this plan isn't changeable or was imposed on the person from the outside – it really depends on the context.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by MD.SALMAN on Sat, 19/03/2016 - 14:25

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HELLO EVERY ONE COULD YOU PLEASE TELL ME WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAKE AND MADE.WHEN WE USE THIS WORDS. THANK YOU

Hello MD.SALMAN,

These are different forms of the verb.

'Make' is an infinitive or present form.

'Made' is a past simple or past participle form.

These are fundamental verb forms and their use is detailed on relevant pages in the grammar section on verbs - here. For questions like this - very broad and general questions about fundamental aspects of the grammatical system - the comments section is not really a good place, but the grammar section contains this information and you can work through it at your own pace.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team