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Future continuous – Future perfect – Future Plans

The future continuous (will be + ‘ing’ form) and the future perfect (will have + past participle) tenses are used to talk about events in the future.

Future continuous

  • Don’t ring at 8 o’clock. I’ll be watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
  • This time tomorrow we’ll be sitting on the beach. I can’t wait!

We use the future continuous to talk about something that will be in progress at or around a time in the future.

  • Don’t phone grandma now, she’ll be having dinner.
  • The kids are very quiet. They’ll be doing something wrong, I know it!

These sentences are not about the future but we can use the future continuous to talk about what we assume is happening at the moment.

Future Perfect

  • Do you think you will have finished it by next Thursday?
  • In 5 years time I’ll have finished university and I’ll be able to earn some money at last.

We use the future perfect to say that something will be finished by a particular time in the future.

We often use the future perfect with ‘by’ or ‘in

  • I think astronauts will have landed on Mars by the year 2020.
  • I’ll have finished in an hour and then you can use the computer.

By’ means ‘not later than a particular time’ and ‘in’ means ‘within a period of time’. We don’t know exactly when something will finish.

  • I promise I’ll have done all the work by next Saturday.

We don’t know exactly when he will finish the work – maybe Thursday, maybe Friday – but definitely before Saturday. 

Future Plans

We use different verb forms to talk about our plans for the future – depending on what kind of plan it is.

will

We use will to talk about plans decided at the moment of speaking.

  • I forgot to phone my mum. I’ll do it after dinner. He decides to phone his mum when she is speaking – she didn’t have a plan.
  • I can’t decide what to wear tonight. I know. I’ll wear my black dress.
  • There’s no milk in the fridge. I’ll buy some when I go to the shops.

going to

We use going to to talk about plans decided before the moment of speaking.

  • I’m going to phone my mum after dinner. I told her I’d call at 8 o’clock. He decided to phone his mum before he speaks – he already had a plan.
  • I’m going to wear my black dress tonight. I need to pick it up from the cleaners.
  • I know there’s no milk. I’m going to get some. It’s on my shopping list.

present continuous

We can also use the present continuous to talk about future plans. We usually use it when the plan is an ‘arrangement’ – more than one person is involved and we know the time and place.

  • I’m meeting Jane at 8 o’clock on Saturday.
  • We’re having a party next Saturday. Would you like to come?
  • Are you doing anything interesting this weekend? We often use the present continuous to ask about people’s future plans.

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