We’re going back to the future for this edition of ‘English Corner.’ The ‘future perfect tense’ is our last main form of the perfect tense. The future form of the perfect tense is the most specific in terms of its’ usage and formation. While not the most important grammar tense to learn, if you want to be able to describe actions in the future that have already been completed, it’s necessary to have a good working knowledge of the ‘future perfect tense’ and to be able to use it proficiently. First, let’s take a look at its’ formation and usage before looking at some examples of the future perfect tense in action.
The future perfect tense is a very specific grammatical tense and is only used in a few situations. The 1st situation in which it is used is to describe how long an action will take until some point and time in the future, regardless if its’ near or far from the present time. The 2nd situation is when it’s used to describe at what time or point will a specific action be finished in the future.
Often times, the future perfect tense is used in conjunction with the present simple tense in order to form a grammatically accurate sentence. It’s important to note that when using the future perfect tense, you should have a good knowledge of how to utilize days, weeks, months, years, and other time-related vocabulary in order to be successful in making these kinds of sentences.
Let’s take a look at some examples of the future perfect tense utilizing the simple present tense + the word ‘for’ to describe the length of time in which a specific action is being taken.
- When we finish our group project, it will have taken us three weeks total.
- At five o’clock, I will have worked in this office for eight hours straight.
A good ‘future perfect’ sentence should include a future indicative word, which deals with a period of time such as ‘by.’ This is imperative because you can then describe an action being done by a certain time in the future but being more specific with using ‘by’ to hold yourself or other subjects to a general deadline whether it’s on an hourly, daily, weekly timetable.
- By the time I’m 30 years old, I will have completed my Masters’ degree.
- By next Tuesday, Your boss will have needed you to finish your environmental report for the office.
In addition, it should also be pointed out that the future perfect tense is formed with a combination of the simple future tense with verbs like ‘to be’. In the future perfect tense, ‘to be’ becomes ‘will be’ combined along with the past participle in the regular form (verb + -ed) to go after the verb being used to complete the sentence.
Here are some other examples when the future perfect tense is being used in the positive form:
- Jane will have cooked dinner by 7 PM tonight.
- We will have left the stadium before the lightning storm comes.
- By Christmas time, parents will have bought presents for their children.
If you would like to shorten the word ‘will’ and combine it with the subject phrase, you can do so quite easily. All you have to do is change ‘will’ to ‘ll’ and put the subject word (I, we) together with ‘ll and then make the future perfect sentence as you normally would.
- I’ll have studied the English grammar tenses for many months before taking the TOEFL exam.
- They’ll have left China by the time you arrive in Japan.
In order to make the future perfect tense ‘negative’ in its formation, you simply need to put the word ‘not’ in between the future indicative word of ‘will’ and the verb ‘to have’, and then the past participle would follow afterwards towards the end of the sentence. You can also make the negative form of the future perfect tense contracted by combining ‘will’ and ‘not’ together to form ‘won’t.’ It’s all a matter of preference but if you’re choosing to use this grammatical tense in formal settings, you should err on the side of caution and use ‘will not’ instead of ‘won’t.’
- I will not have surprised her at the birthday party because she already knew about it ahead of time.
- She won’t have helped me out with my paper because she’s been busy doing other things.
- It will not have stopped snowing by the time I leave my meeting at 9 PM.
When you have to put the future perfect tense into the question form, you simply need to place the word ‘will’ before the subject word especially if you’re focusing on simple yes or no questions. English learners should not hesitate to use the future perfect tense with ‘Wh-‘ based questions because that is acceptable in its’ formation and usage as well.
Examples (Yes or No – Questions)
- Will I have improved my test scores by next semester?
- Will it have snowed in New Hampshire by December?
- Will you have told the truth to the Grand Jury for the next trial?
Examples (Wh – Questions)
- Why will he have got married to Luisa before this Fall?
- When will she have been in Colombia for two months?
- How will you have met your girlfriend by tonight?
During those times when we think about ourselves, other people and the actions that we take in the future, we need to be able to understand, use, and master the future perfect tense. While these actions may be completed, we need to have some insight into what circumstances did these actions occur especially when it comes to time and place. To project ourselves into the future, we need the future perfect tense to make that happen.
The future perfect tense can make us reflect upon an action or an event that will be completed sometime into the future and beyond the present, but it’s not certain as to when that will happen. Using time expressions are a necessity with the future perfect tense, so make sure that you practice a lot so you can be able to merge these two grammatical concepts together to form functional and unique sentences.