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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 again. Could please help me?
Is the following sentence correct using the future perfect or we must use the future simple? I think that future perfect is not correct.
"The moment the train has reached the station, my secretary "will have been"/"will be" there to welcome you. "
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam

Yes, you are right -- the future perfect doesn't work in that situation and the future simple would be the most natural option.

Sorry we somehow missed your earlier comment.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

This sentence seems right when I hear it said.
"When I pay him tomorrow, he will have received everything I owe him"
However I am confused with the following.
(1) I believe the rule for usage of the future perfect verb is that it needs to be used to indicate an action that happened before the action indicated by the simple future verb
(2) The act of receiving can happen only after the act of paying
I am confused with these two contradicting thoughts. Appreciate your clarification.

Hello Rose,

I see what you mean, and you are right about the sentence possibly being inconsistent in that way. A more accurate way to express it would be:

Once he's paid tomorrow, he'll have received everything I owe him.

In your original sentence 'when' is being used with the sense of 'after', which may be confusing. People do not always express themselves logically, and it's not unusual for people to say things that are open to misinterpretation.



The LearnEnglish Team

Is the future continuous correct in the following sentence:
- Every thing is arranged. We will be visiting our aunt next week.
Or the following one:
- Every thing is arranged. We will be visiting our aunt next week.
Thank you.

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.



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.



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.



The LearnEnglish Team