What Is Future Perfect Tense? With Examples

This guide creates some helpful tips for elementary or middle school students taking English classes. With the future perfect tense examples we will use, it could also be a good resource for any students at these levels who are learning English as a second language. Teachers can use these instructions as a way to help them teach how the future perfect should work in the English language. Further, they can make handouts that individual students might use as study guides to help them get through exercises that involve this tense in English. We will provide some concrete examples of how the tense works, and students should be able to grasp what the tense looks like when they see it. Similarly, they can work on creating their own examples of the future perfect.


future perfect definition and example

How Do You Use Future Perfect?

In terms of the mechanics of English, the future perfect tense is one that should be relatively easy for students to understand or recognize with a little practice. To put it simply, the future perfect speaks of past actions in the future. When we use the future perfect, we are projecting ourselves, or whatever subject about which we are speaking and writing, into the future. The actions they undertake will be complete by the time we reach the point in the future that we’re referencing in our present.

To understand this more concretely, teachers can let students know that the future perfect tense often pairs the subject with auxiliary verbs. The verbs will and have are the most common ones we might use to construct this tense, and we may attach the subject to both of these verbs to form will have followed by the action. This tense is full of verbs, however, and we follow up our linking verb or verbs with a main verb. The main verb for a sentence expressing the future tense will be in its past participle form. We can look at some examples to further illustrate this point.

  • You will have arrived at the location by the time the meeting starts later.
  • He won’t have made it to the station by the time the train has left.
  • She will have finished the assignment by tomorrow night.
  • They won’t have finished the construction work by the end of the week.

The examples above contain both affirmatives and negatives which demonstrate the future perfect tense. As students should be able to see, they can use any subject along with the appropriate verb forms to create sentences in this tense. However, it is important to understand the rules governing the creation of sentences like this. We’ve gone over which forms you should need, but teachers can help students here by pointing out some of the irregular or exceptional cases.


How Do You Form Sentences in This Case?

Students only need to remember a couple of simple things when it comes to making the future perfect. It involves the verb to have, but we change it to the future version of itself. Thus, it becomes will have. Unlike in the present, the form of will have must stay the same with all subjects students might use.

The second part involves forming the correct ending for the regular verbs that work with the linking one. Because we are talking about an action that should already be complete in the future time about which we are speaking, regular verb forms here will use the -ed ending. For this tense, we call this the third form of the verb. It is easy to master with any regular verbs, as students can see in the examples like worked, studied, played, or cooked.

However, there are also irregular verbs that can take the third form to help form the future perfect tense. These are words that students will need to learn and commit to memory. Although it may be tricky at first, they should find that they can master this list of words quickly with enough use.

  • I will have written my thesis by next year.
  • He will have done the laundry by tomorrow night.
  • She will have spoken to the teacher by tomorrow.

These are all affirmatives that we can form by starting with a subject, including the will have verb form, and ending with a regular or irregular verb in its third form.


Forming the Future Perfect Tense for Interrogatives

We can also use the future perfect to ask questions about things that should be complete at a later time. However, in order to do this properly, we need to change the structure of the future sentence slightly. We still need to use the proper tenses and forms for the verbs, and these are static rules we’ve discussed already. However, we must alter word order a bit for the interrogative.

We need to split the will have verb form first. In fact, we also move the subject so that we start with will have. For interrogatives, the sentence will start with will. We follow that up with the subject, and then we will proceed to insert have. Once we do this, we can finish the sentence by asking about the action or even in question. Students can check out some simple examples to get a better handle on this concept.

  • Will they have finished the assignment by the due date?
  • Will you have given the speech by the second day of the conference?
  • Will he have brought the items from the store by later tonight?

Using the Future and the Past

Finally, you can use the future perfect tense to talk about how likely it is that some event already occurred in the past. We do this to talk about events that have already finished by the time we are in the present moment.

  • Someone will have seen you eavesdropping at the event.
  • You will have noticed that we no longer stock those books.

Conclusion

As we conclude, it is important that students understand a key difference between a tense like future perfect and that of future simple. We use the future simple in English to express that something will happen at a later date. Conversely, we use future perfect to emphasize that the action will be over at a particular point in the future. Similarly, future continuous emphasizes that an action will be ongoing until a particular point in the future.