If you speak English, you most likely make use of the English future tense every day. And chances are, if you're not an English scholar or planning on teaching English, you don't know how to explain how each of the seven tenses making up the future tense system are formed and used (or even that there are seven variations!). For the average person; there is one future tense and that's all there is to know. If you want to know more (or plan on teaching English) then knowledge of each of the seven minor tenses that make up the past tense is required. The seven future tenses are: present simple, present continuous, BGI, future simple, future continuous, future perfect and future perfect continuous.

This simple guide will tell you everything you need to know about the sixth of the future tenses, the future perfect tense.

When is the future perfect tense used?

The future perfect tense is used when:

- Referring to something that will be completed by a certain date in the future – it is looking at the past from the viewpoint of the future e.g.

This time tomorrow I will have completed my studies; At the end of the October I will have worked here for 5 years; By the end of the month, By the end of the year I will have watched my favourite movie ninety times

Note: A reference point in the future is mentioned, along with what will have been done up until that point (the starting point is not important, only the end point in the future)

How is the future perfect tense formed?

Tenses have three variations: Affirmative, Negative and Question

-Affirmative: Subject + Will + Have + Past Participle

In five minutes I will have worked for ten hours straight; By the end of the day they will have run fifty kilometers

-Negative: Subject + Will + Not + Have + Past Participle

In five minutes I will not have worked for ten hours straight; By the end of the day they will not have run fifty kilometers

- Question: Will + Subject + Have + Past Participle

In five minutes, will you have worked for ten hours straight?; By the end of the day, will they have run fifty kilometers?

Note: The past participle is often the base form of a verb + "d" or "ed", but many verbs are irregular and have no rules as to their formation. These need to be learnt through practice and experience – a list of irregular verbs can be found in most good English dictionaries. Also, the same sentences have been repeated to illustrate the difference in formation, but if we know the amount of time, we will usually not ask a question like those above. A more natural question would be: In five minutes, how long will you have worked for?

Keep it simple

It may seem that there is no simple way of learning the English tense system, but by taking one minor tense at a time and practicing its formation and different uses, one will find that the tense system can be learnt fairly quickly. Knowledge of parts of speech and the rules to form each tense is important in the beginning, and once these are fully remembered, practice will see the entire system becoming much easier to understand and use naturally and correctly.