Published 19th October 2018

Future Perfect

We use the future perfect when we are talking about an action that will be completed in the future. It is formed by – will have – (or won’t have in the negative) and the past participle of the verb. You will often see the words by or in.

For example:

  • Do you think you will have finished the article by next Thursday?
  • In 2 years’, time I will have finished my course
  • Will you have eaten your breakfast by 8:30?
  • I will have finished in half an hour.

Using the word ‘by’ means it will before a particular time, so that if you say, “I will have finished by next Thursday”, you might finish before, but you definitely won’t finish after Thursday.

The word ‘in’ means you don’t know exactly, but you have a good idea, so you can say I’ll have finished typing the document in an hour.

A list of past participle verbs will be in your student’s coursebook. If you’re working from handouts you can get a list from the internet and print it out.

For the negative of the future perfect you use ‘will not’, which is almost always used in the short form ‘won’t’, unless you want to emphasise your disagreement:

  • I won’t have finished this by Wednesday
  • It won’t have stopped snowing by the time we leave

If you want to make questions we put ‘will’ in front of the sentence if we expect a yes or no answer:

  • Will you have eaten all the leftovers by tomorrow?
  • Won’t you have finished the work by the time we go out?

If it’s not a yes or no answer and it’s with a -wh question it will look like this:

  • When will you have finished?
  • Why will you have to work late?
  • How much will you have done by tomorrow?

If you’re teaching beginners, you won’t come across the future perfect. It’s usually introduced  at upper intermediate level.