How to use the perfect future tense in English

How to use the perfect future tense in English

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated November 10, 2022

If you can successfully use the simple future forms in English, it’s time to move your skills to the next level. Understanding and using the perfect future tense will really improve your language skills

In this article, we will learn what the perfect future tense is, how to form it and use it. 

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What is the future perfect tense? 

English has a few different ways to talk about future events or actions. The perfect future tense or the future perfect tense is used to connect a future action to another action that is even further in the future. In other words, one future action will be completed before the other future action. 

  • They will have arrived by dinnertime. 
  • By the time I graduate from college I will have moved 8 times. 
  • In December, we will have lived in Mexico for 3 years. 

Sometimes it helps to look at the actions or events on a timeline. 

ExampleTime of speaking1st future action2nd future action
They will have arrived by dinnertime. Speaking in the moment, at 10:00 AM. They will have arrived (at 3:00 PM).By dinnertime (at 7:00 PM). 
By the time I graduate from college, I will have moved 8 times. Speaking in the moment, while still going to collegeI will have moved 8 times.By the time I graduate from college. 
In December, we will have lived in Mexico for 3 years. Speaking in the moment, for example in JulyWe will have lived in Mexico for 3 years. In December. 

How to use the perfect future tense 

Let’s review how to construct the perfect future tense. The perfect future always includes will, the auxiliary or helping verb have and the past participle of your main verb. The future perfect verb must include have + past participle. The past participle is the main verb. 

Structure: Subject + will + have + past participle. For example: They (subject) will have cooked (past participle). 

The past participle of a regular verb is formed by adding -ed to the end of the infinitive. 

Examples of regular verbs in past participle form.

Cook + ed = cooked

Talk + ed = talked

Jump + ed = jumped

There are many irregular verbs in English. The past participle version of irregular verbs don’t  follow the rule above. If you spend time studying the irregular verbs you will learn and improve your English

Examples of irregular past participle verbs. 

Study = studied

Eat = eaten

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Perfect future tense examples

Let’s look at some examples of the perfect future. The following table uses the regular verb ‘work’ for each subject.

SubjectExample Sentence
I will have worked.
You, singularYou will have worked.
He / She / ItHe will have worked. 
She will have worked. 
It will have worked.
WeWe will have worked.
You, pluralYou will have worked.
TheyThey will have worked.

In both spoken and written English contractions are very common. 

Example SentenceContraction
I will have worked. I’ll have worked.
You will have worked.You’ll have worked
He will have worked. He’ll have worked.
She will have worked. She’ll have worked. 
It will have worked. It’ll have worked. 
We will have worked.We’ll have worked. 
You will have worked. You’ll have worked. 
They will have worked. They’ll have worked. 

We can also use the perfect future in negative sentences. We just need to add the word not. Here is the structure. 

Subject + will + not + have + past participle. 

  • I will not have worked. 
  • You will not have worked. 
  • He will not have worked. 
  • She will not have worked. 
  • It will not have worked. 
  • You will not have worked. 
  • We will not have worked. 
  • They will not have worked. 

It is common to use a time expression. 

  • By 2030 the kids will have finished school. 
  • Will you have eaten by the time I arrive? 
  • The movie will have finished by 10:00 PM. 

Here are a few more example sentences. 

  • Let’s meet at 7:00 PM. I will have finished work by then. 
  • We will have fixed the problem by Monday. 
  • Will you have left when I arrive? 
  • What will you have completed by the end of the day? 

Watch these 2 clips for examples of the perfect future. 

YouTube video

By the end of this article, you will have learned the perfect future tense

The perfect future tense will help you expand your English language skills. Learning this tense will allow you to speak English in a more natural and complex way. Surely, you will have learned a lot by the end of this article! 

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Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Czech and Turkish. Her consulting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

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