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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Hi Shoaib50,

The second sentence is not grammatically correct: people watch films; films do not watch anything.

The first sentence is fine, though 'midnight' is one word, not two.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Ahmed Imam 提交于 周五, 20/09/2019 - 07:05

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Hello. Is the following sentence correct using the future perfect? "The moment the train has reached the station, my secretary will have been there to welcome you. " Thank you.
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

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Rose Duda 提交于 周四, 19/09/2019 - 14:09

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Hello! 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.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Ahmed Imam 提交于 周二, 10/09/2019 - 20:04

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Hello. 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.

 

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

sonakshi 提交于 周五, 06/09/2019 - 06:31

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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 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

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.

rayhaibara 提交于 周三, 28/08/2019 - 16:15

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

Hello rayhaibara,

I'm afraid I'm not sure I understand your question. Could you perhaps provide an example to clarify?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Risa warysha 提交于 周六, 03/08/2019 - 10:42

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Hi Sir Could you tell me what this sentence means? I'll be celebrating my mom's brithday tomorrow. Does it mean I'm going to celebrate it the whole day tomorrow or does it express that I have a plan to celebrate my mom's birthday tomorrow (it doesn't matter what time I celebrate)? Thank you Sir

Hello Risa warysha

It does mean you have a plan for tomorrow, but what else it exactly means is impossible to say for sure without knowing the precise context. 

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

rosario70 提交于 周日, 16/06/2019 - 10:07

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Hi teachers, i would like to know which is the most informal way with the same meaning of the following sentence: if i had waited for further one hour i would have met his.Thanks in advance .

Hello rosario70

If I've understood what you want to say, I'd recommend 'If I had wait another house, I'd have met him.'

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Dieudonné 提交于 周五, 31/05/2019 - 13:34

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Hmm! I'm happy to learn more about future continuous and future perfect. I am used to translate directly my sentences from french to english and some, that sounds weird and no sense. But now, I know when I have to use these tenses during my talking.

Montri 提交于 周四, 16/05/2019 - 15:45

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What is the difference between the following sentence? When will you be arriving? AND When are you going to arrive?
Hello Montri, Both sentences describe future time and have similar meanings. The first sentence ('...will be arriving') describes something that is expected. We use this form to describe things that we see as normal and unsurprising in the future. The second sentence ('...going to...') describes a person's intention or plan. ~ You can read more about ways of talking about the future on these pages: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar/talking-about-future https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/intermediate-grammar/future-plans ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Jennief 提交于 周三, 24/04/2019 - 13:49

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Hello Would you ever use 'would' in a future perfect construction? Is there a rule, e.g. By the time I am 30 years old I will have owned a Ferrari. Or would it be: By the time I am 30 years old I would have owned a Ferrari. Thanks!
Hello Jennief 'would have owned' doesn't work with 'by the time I am' because 'would have owned' refers to an (unreal) imaginary time and 'by the time I am' refers to a (real) future time. You could say, for example, 'I would have owned a Ferrari when I was 30 is I hadn't been sacked.' This refers to an unreal past time, i.e. a past in which you were not sacked. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

EvgenyAndreev 提交于 周三, 24/04/2019 - 10:58

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No grammar book (and I've got about a dozen of them) explains the difference between Future Simple and Progressive in similar sentences and why they can be used interchangeably. That's why I decided to ask my questions here, and now I seem to understand that, thanks to you.

EvgenyAndreev 提交于 周二, 23/04/2019 - 10:07

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Hello, My question concerns one of the uses of Future Progressive. Consider this example: - This time tomorrow I'll be lying on the beach and sunbathing. If I'm not mistaken, we can't use Future Simple here ("I'll lie") because we're dealing with a very short action, which is quite limited in time, and which will be in progress at a particular moment in the future. The same happens in the present: - At the moment I'm lying on the beach and having a tan. (it's not correct to say "I lie", that's perfectly clear). Nevertheless, I've come across a lot of examples in which Future Progressive is used to express long, permanent actions, not limited in time. If these examples referred to the present, then the most appropriate tense would be Simple Present, and not Present Progressive. Example: - In 50 years' time people won't be using petrol to drive their cars. Instead, most of them will be using electricity for that purpose. The "present equivalent" for that would be: - Nowadays, people use petrol to drive their cars. If I'm not mistaken, it's not common to say "Nowadays people are using petrol to drive their cars", because it's a general, permanent action, not limited in time. And it's not a changing situation or trend, which would require the usage of Present Progressive. Other similar examples (all taken from English coursebooks): - Within 50 years people will be living longer lives. - In 10 years’ time I expect I’ll be owning a flat. If we "transfer" them to the present, we'll get: - Nowadays people live to about 75-80. - My family owns a flat and a small cottage in the countryside. So the Progressive changes to the Present. I've also come across lots of similar sentences where Future Simple is used instead of Future Progressive: - In 50 years' time most rich people will live until they are over 100. (instead of "will be living") - The development of intelligent cars means that, by 2030, they will drive themselves. (instead of "will be driving") These are only some random examples among hundreds of similar ones. It seems to me that, when we're talking about long, permanent future actions, which are not limited in time, we can use both Future Progressive and Future Simple interchangeably, while in the present the preference is given to Simple Present, not Present Progressive. - In 50 years' time people won't be using/won't use petrol to drive their cars. Instead, most of them will be using/will use electricity for that purpose. - Nowadays people use petrol to drive their cars and almost nobody uses electricity yet. I would be very grateful to you if you could comment on what I've said above. Am I right in my conclusions? Thank you very much!
Hello EvgenyAndreev The future progressive, also referred to as the future continuous, is one of several verb forms that have continuous aspect, which can be used to express a variety of meanings (https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar/continuous-aspect). The continuous form in the sentence about lying on the beach at this time tomorrow suggests that you'll already have been there before this time tomorrow and that you will likely continue to be there after this time as well. If people are imagining a specific situation they expect to be in in the future, they often use a future continuous form. Your example is a good one in this case. In contrast, if a friend of yours asks you to go to the cinema with him tomorrow at this time and you looking at your diary and see that tomorrow you've got an appointment with your friends at the beach at exactly the same time, you'd be more likely to say 'I'll be at the beach'. Note also that lying on the beach is something we usually do for awhile, i.e. over time, and this is another meaning the continuous aspect can express. The continuous aspect doesn't necessarily refer to an even that is short in duration, as you've noticed and ask about in other sentences. In the case of people living longer in the future, this is a change or development that is contrasted with the present, when they have shorter lifespans (at least according to the perspective this sentence suggests). If the future simple is used, then people's lifespan is seen more as a simple fact, rather than as something different from the present. As you can see, the continuous aspect can be used not to refer just to time, but is also very often used to show the speaker's perspective on an event or fact. I hope this helps you. Best wishes Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

EvgenyAndreev 提交于 周一, 22/04/2019 - 17:49

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Hello, In one of the previous messages, two sentences were discussed: 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. Kirk replied that both alternatives are possible. If you don't mind, I'd like to add a question of my own. 1) Does it mean that we can always use both Future Simple and Future Perfect interchangeably in similar sentences with 'by'? For example: - By the year 2040 the world's population will reach/will have reached 9 billion. - We will get back/will have got back to the hotel by seven. - In ten years' time I'll get married and have three kids / I'll have got married and had three kids. Perhaps the degree of certainty might be different? What do you think? Thank you very much for your answer!
Hello EvgenyAndreev, Both options are possible and there is no difference in meaning in these examples. The by-phrase already contains a sense of 'complete before' so it makes no difference if 'will' or 'will have' is used. ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team
Hi sir, Considering the two phrase, "In five years time","in 10 year's time", which one is correct? I mean the word "years" without apostrophe 's' is correct or the word with apostrophe 's ,is correct. Thanks ,

Hello again David

The correct spelling is 'in five years' time' or 'in ten years' time'. This apostrophe indicates possession (of a sort) and it comes after the letter 's' because 'years' is plural.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Harry New 提交于 周三, 13/02/2019 - 15:25

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I promise I’ll have done all the work by next Saturday. In this sentence, is it possible that the person finish the work on Saturday?

Hello Harry New,

Generally, when we use will have with a by construction we consider it to refer to a time before the identified moment. However, in normal communicative use the context will determine this. It is possible that the speaker means 'before next Saturday', 'before I see you next Saturday', 'before I come to work next Saturday' etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

muhammadShaker 提交于 周日, 20/01/2019 - 20:08

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Excuse me, this sentence has come in an English test and I'd like to know the right answer: - Friday has the ...................... number of cars on roads. (least- fewest- less- fewer) Some teachers say it's the least, but others say the fewest and I'm a little confused.

Hello muhammadShaker

'the fewest cars' and 'the lowest number of cars' (or 'the smallest number') are the best forms here; 'the least number' is also used sometimes but is not really correct. 'fewest' can only be used with a plural count noun (such as 'cars', but not 'number'). 'least' is used in many ways, but it used with uncount nouns -- 'number' is not an uncount noun here.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

patph0510 提交于 周六, 29/12/2018 - 13:03

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Hi, I saw a sentence on the Internet, which reads: "I will be leaving for the UK at 7:00 in the evening." As I think "leave", similar to "arrive", can only occur at a particular point of time, I am quite confused as to why future continuous is used in this sentence. Thanks.

Kirk 提交于 周六, 29/12/2018 - 16:15

patph0510 回复

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Hi patph0510,

The continuous aspect can be used to convey a variety of meanings and these are often not clear without knowing the context. In this case, I expect the person who said this was thinking of their departure for the UK and was imagining it as something that would take some time. If they were flying, for example, they'd have to get to the airport, check in, go to their gate, board the plane, get settled, etc. At some point during that process, the clock would strike 7.00.

We often use the future continuous to speak about planned or arranged events in this way.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Nataly Nieves 提交于 周三, 26/12/2018 - 21:10

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Omg, u'r the best! I'm so thankful for all youre classes, it helped me so much when I didn't understand s'thing. Now I'm in Intermidiate 10... Greetings from Peru!

ihsan_qwerty 提交于 周日, 09/12/2018 - 05:21

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Hi in the example you've mentioned, "Don’t phone grandma now, she’ll be having dinner." why don't we say: she is having dinner? according to my little knowledge with the adverb "now" we use present continuous and in this example, we want to say don't bother grandam because she is at the middle of having dinner thank in advance

Peter M. 提交于 周日, 09/12/2018 - 08:06

ihsan_qwerty 回复

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Hi ihsan_qwerty,

Both forms are possible here, but there is a difference in meaning.

If we say '...she's having dinner' then we are stating a fact which we know is true.

If we say '...she'll be having dinner' then we are speculating; we expect that this is true but we do not know for sure.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

andreus1999 提交于 周三, 21/11/2018 - 16:55

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We will be having dinner at a nice restaurant on Saturday, but we have't booked a table yet. We are going to have dinner at a nice restaurant on Saturday, but we have't booked a table yet. Why is the fisrt one wrong On Sunday at 8 o'clock I am going to be meeting my friend. On Sunday at 8 o'clock I am meeting my friend. is the fisrt one wrong?

Hi andreus1999,

The first one is strange because when we use the future continuous, it's as if we're imagining the experience of having dinner at the restaurant or we're thinking about how the event happens, but then the second part of the sentence is talking about a plan. The second version of the sentence, which uses 'going to' to talk about a plan, makes more sense.

As for the second pair of sentences, both could be correct. It really depends on the situation you use them in and what you mean.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

bellatambunan 提交于 周四, 11/10/2018 - 09:39

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Hi, please help me to understand which one is right. Are you doing anything interesting this weekend? or Will you be doing anything interesting this weekend? I am totally confused to distinguish between present continuous in future and future continuous. :) Thank you!

Hello bellataylor,

Both of these are possible.

The first (are you doing...) is a question about arrangements and things which are already decided.

The second (will you be doing...) is a general question which could refer to plans, intentions or just hopes.

The difference in this context is tiny. It is really only about the kind of answers the speaker expects, and you can use them interchangeably.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Are you doing anything interesting this weekend? - you ask about arrangements, already planned activities. The probable answers will be: - Yes, I'm going to the beach. - No I still haven't planned anything yet. Will you be doing anything interesting this weekend? - you ask about intentions, what a person is willing to do. You can form your question this way and the meaning will stay the same 'Do you want to do anything interesting this weekend'? So, use present continuous when you ask about arrangements and future continuous when you ask about intentions. Is my explanation useful or do you need further clarification on the subject?

Ahmed Imam 提交于 周六, 15/09/2018 - 20:48

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How can I send you an attachment with my question? Thank you.