How to use the Future Perfect Continuous? (easy explanation!)

How to use the Future Perfect Continuous in English?


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The future perfect progressive (or continuous), is quite difficult to master but can be useful.

It is used to say how long something will have lasted until some point in the future. The duration of the action is usually specified with the expression of time for or since (for 5 minutes, for two years, since thursday...).  The point at which the action will have been performed is often indicated in this simple present with when or by the time.

  • On january 1st he will have been working at the factory for more than a year 
  • In just one week from now I will have been living in Tokyo for five years.

1/ Construction

subject + will have been + verb + ing

 Affirmative_ Negative Question
 I / you / he / she / it we / you / they_    I will have been playing  _I will not (= I won’t) have been playing _  _Will I have been playing ?_

 

  • (+) You will (= You’ll) have been playing video games for two hours when her plane finally arrives.
  • (?) Will you have been playing video games for two hours when her plane finally arrives?
  • (-) You will not (= won’t) have been playing video games for two hours when her plane finally arrives.

2/ Use

* Duration before a future event

You will notice that the reference points are now at the present simple tense.

  • By the next year, Sarah and her husband will have been living together for twenty years.
  • We will have been talking for over an hour by the time Thomas arrives.
  • He will have been working at that company for three years when it finally closes.
  • Thomas will have been teaching at the university for 2 years by the time he leaves for Thailand.
  • How long will you have been studying when you graduate?
  • They will have been driving for four hours when they get to Melbourne.
  • When you finish your job, will you have been living in New Zealand for over a year?
  • Before they come, we will have been cleaning the house for two hours.

* Conviction of the cause of a future situation

Using the future perfect continuous before another future action is a good way to show the cause and effect

  • Tina will be tired when he gets home because he will have been working for 12 hours
  • Romain’s english will be perfect when she returns to France because he is going to have been studying English in London for over two years.
  • By this time, he will have been jogging for over an hour so he will be very tired.
  • We will be making a rest stop in half an hour, because you will have been driving the car for 6 hours by then.

3/ A few tips

⚠ Some common time expressions to the future perfect continuous:

by tomorrow / 8 o’clock / 8pm / this year / month / week / next year / next month / next week

⚠ Future Continuous OR Future Perfect Continuous ?

If a duration such as ‘for ten minutes’,’for two weeks’ or’since Friday’ is not indicated, many English speakers prefer to use the continuous future rather than the perfect continuous future. Be careful because this can change the meaning of the sentence.

The continuous future emphasizes interrupted action, while the perfect continuous future emphasizes a duration before a future event.

  • He will be tired because he will be exercising so hard. (= He will be tired because he will have played sports at that precise moment in the future)
  • He will be tired because he will have been exercising so hard. (= He will be tired because he has been playing sports for a period of time. It is possible that they will continue to play sports or that they have just finished)

The following time expressions are not used in the future perfect continuous:

when / while / before / after / by the time / as soon as / if / unless

  • You won’t get a promotion until you will have been working here as long as Tim.  WRONG
  • You won’t get a promotion until you have been working here as long as Tim. CORRECT

No state verbs in the future perfect continuous

  • Tom will have been having motorbike for over one year. WRONG
  • Tom will have had his motorbike for over one year. CORRECT

Active / passive form

The passive form to the future perfect continuous is not common:

  • Matt will have been fixing the car for over six weeks by the time it is finished. (Active)
  • The car will have been being fixed by Matt for over six weeks by the time it is finished. (Passive)

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