Future Perfect

How do we form the future perfect?

will have + verb 3 (past participle)

NOTE – There is no future tense in English. Instead we use a variety of forms to talk about the future. WILL (in this case with have + verb 3) is one of those forms. In many student grammar books (and here!) this form is referred to as future perfect for convenient comparison with similar perfect forms in the present and past. See this post about tense and aspect.

Future perfect is used when an action will be complete at a specific time in the future.

I will have finished my project by the weekend.
This time next year I will have graduated college.

Future perfect is used to predict the present.

Don’t bother going to see him, he’ll have left.
It’s 6 o’clock, hurry up! The film will have started.

Related grammar points

Future Continuous
Will and Going to
Tense and aspect

Keith Taylor
Keith is the co-founder of Eslbase. He has been a teacher and teacher trainer for over 20 years, in Indonesia, Australia, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Poland, France and now in the UK.


  1. Not an idea as such, but more of a question. How can you put the future perfect tense into some kind of theme with an activation that upper intermediates can relate to? I’m really struggling with this.. help!

  2. It’s easy, you can set a date in the future and ask your students what they plan to have finished by then, like: “By the year 2010, I will have graduated from university” or “By the year 2015, I will probably have gotten married, etc. It’s interesting because it makes them set goals, like “By the end of next year, I will be speaking English well.

  3. Choose a female student, ask her to pick the person she would most like to have a date with (anyone at all) – Explain that next Friday at 7pm, the student is going to date Mr X. Explain that Mr X is very impatient and doesn’t like to be kept waiting, so she must be ready on time.

    Elicit from the class all the things the student will have to do next Friday before the date (buy new dress, go to the salon for hair do, manicure, leg waxing, clean the house, have a bath etc. etc.) then ask how long each activity will take her and write the time by the activity. Then establish with the class the order of these events. Draw a time line with the activities in sequence at the top of the board. Elicit what time she will have to start in order to be ready on time and mark the time line accordingly.

    Then explain that next Friday morning her car breaks down or some similar event and she is (for example) 90 minutes. late starting these activities. Now, re-time the timeline based on the later starting time. From here, ask students “What will she have done by the time Mr X arrives?”, elicit and board the sentences, then ask “What won’t she have finished by this time?”.

    From here you have an excellent context and the form to teach the target language and even the quietest classes get fully engaged, especially discussing what she should do to prepare for the date and how long these things take.

  4. A reading to introduce the grammar is always helpful, to teach in context so students understand how it works! In this case, as mentioned above, could be with predictions or depending on the area of interest of the student, as I live in a touristic area, planning the vacation of the clients can be a great context, a wedding by the beach for instance, lets us use structures such as “by the time the bride arrives at the hotel, the receptionist will have delivered flowers to her room, the guests will have organized a special show” and so on.


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