What is Future Perfect Tense? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:02 Future & Future Perfect
  • 1:08 Why Do I Need Future Perfect?
  • 2:10 How Do You Form Future…
  • 3:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Boyles

David has a Master's in English literature. He has taught college English for 5+ years.

Future perfect is a tense that is used to describe events that will start in the future and end at some specific point. It is formed by combining 'will have' and the past participle of the verb.

Future and Future Perfect

Future perfect tense is probably one of the most confusing and frequently misused verb tenses. In order to use it, you need several very specific conditions, which makes people unsure of when they need it and how exactly it is formed.

So before we get to future perfect, let's start with something more simple. Simple future tense, to be specific. As its name implies, this is the tense used most often to describe events in the future. It is formed by combining the helping verb 'will' with the present tense or root form of the verb:

  • I will walk to school tomorrow.
  • I will finish my homework after dinner.

Simple, just like the name says. So why do we need future perfect? Well, future perfect is used for actions that will start in the future, but will end by some certain point. It is part of a group of perfect tenses (there is also past and present perfect) that describe when events are not only started but completed or 'perfected.'

Why Do I Need Future Perfect?

So you're probably wondering, 'Do I really need to use this tense? It sounds pretty specific.' It is, and you probably won't use it every day, but it will come up, and it allows you to be more specific when describing events in the future. For example, let's look at this common New Year's resolution:

  • I will lose weight by exercising every day.

Okay, that's all well and good, but that resolution is likely to be forgotten by mid-January. Let's try being a little more specific:

  • By the end of January, I will have lost ten pounds by exercising every day.

By giving a specific time, your writing is more clear, and you're probably more likely to keep your resolution. Let's take one form of our simple future sentences from earlier. Earlier, we wrote:

  • I will finish my homework after dinner.

But what if you want to finish your homework before dinner, so you can watch TV after dinner? Use the future perfect:

  • I will have finished my homework before dinner.

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