Future Perfect Tense

When to use Future Perfect

Future Perfect is used when we talk about a future action that will be in the past, looking back. Future Perfect projects us in to the distant future. If we look back to another action from the distant future, that action will be in the past. That sounds very complicated, but the examples will make it clear. If you want to say that you finish school in June and in June your classes will be finished, you can say:

I will have finished school by June.

Looking at it from the present, June and finishing school are both in the future. However, looking at it from June, finishing school will be in the past.

Other examples:

My daughter will have graduated by the time we are going away.
The team will have trained enough by the World Cup.
He will have practised enough before the test.

Structure of Future Perfect Tense

Subject + will + have+ Past Participle of Main Verb + Object

The auxiliary verb of perfect tenses is ‘to have’ which needs to be used in future form in the Future Perfect Tense. Future can be expressed by using the auxiliary verb ‘will’. Will must be followed by the present form of the verb, so the correct form will be ‘will have’. Finally, the action verb needs to be in past participle because of the auxiliary verb ‘have’.

Note that there are many verbs that have irregular second and third forms. Make sure to learn the most common ones from this list!

Some examples for the structure:
My dog will have been 2 years old by then.
The offer will have been expired by the time I get my salary.
The writer will have finished his book by the deadline.

Take a look at the following table to review how Future Perfect is formed:

Making the Future Perfect Tense negative

To create the negative form of a Future Perfect verb, you need to combine ‘not’ and the auxiliary verb ‘will’ similarly to other future tenses. The short form is ‘won’t’. Remember to use the short forms in informal conversations and the long forms in a written, formal context.

Subject + won’t / will not + have + V3rd

Examples:
The project won’t have been fully finished by the deadline.
I won’t have cooked dinner by 8 o’clock because I’m busy till 7:30 pm.

Yes/No questions in Future Perfect

As in any other tenses, questions in Future Perfect are formed by switching the auxiliary verb ‘will’ and the subject. For example:
Will you have finished your homework by the time the movie starts?
Will the baby have been born by May?
Will you have saved up some money by the summer, so we can go to Australia?

Open-ended questions in Future Perfect

To form open-ended questions, simply put the question word to the beginning of the sentence. The word order folowing the question word remains tha same as in case of yes/no questions. For example:

How will you have learnt all the material by Friday?
What will you have learnt by Friday?

Typical time expressions of Future Perfect Tense

As you might have noticed already in the examples above, expressions with ‘by….’ are very typical in the Future Perfect Tense. ‘By’ can be used as a one-word adverb or as a clause. It is not mandatory to use ‘by’ with Future Perfect but it is very common. For example,

I will have lived here for 10 years by 2020.
I will have lived here for 10 years by the time I turn 30.

Will you have completed the whole course by June?
Will you have completed the whole course by the time exams start?

You can use other adverbs, as well. Note that ‘in’ doesn’t work as a clause. For example,

I think we will have colonized Mars in 2050.
Mary will have walked the dogs before 8 pm.
A week from now we will have landed in Bali.
If I learn English, I will have learnt 10 languages.

Present Perfect Tense

When to use Present Perfect

  • Experiences
    Experiences that happened in the past, are still ‘with you’ today and may happen again in the future.
    I’ve been to Asia 3 times now.
    She’s been to Georgia many times.

    My friend broke his arm twice during basketball games. à hopefully it won’t happen again
  • Ongoing things
    Actions that started in the past and are still happening today.
    They’ve lived since I was born.
    She’s been waiting for him to pop the question forever.
  • Expectations
    Asking someone or stating if you have already done something.
    Have you picked up the kids from school?
    I haven’t done my homework, yet.
    Have you ever seen Game of Thrones?
  • Very recent past
    I’ve almost got hit by a car this morning.
    The housekeeper has just finished cleaning the bathroom.
    Have you just finished work?
  • Emphasis is on the present consequence/result of an event that happened in the past
    Someone has stolen my cell phone!
    She’s learnt to sing from the best teacher.
    I’ve broken my leg during skiing.

Structure of Present Perfect Tense

Subject + conjugated form of ‘to have’ + Past Participle of Main Verb + Object

The auxiliary verb of perfect tenses is ‘to have’ which needs to be used in the first form in present tense. Make sure to conjugate ‘to have’ to agree with the subject. ‘To have’ is always followed by the Past Participle or the main verb. Note that there are many verbs that have irregular past participle forms. Make sure to learn the most common ones from our list!

Some examples for the structure:
My dog has eaten my homework.
I’ve lost my keys on my way home.
My family has lived here since I was born.

Take a look at the following table to review how Present Perfect is formed:

Making the Simple Present Tense negative

To create the negative form of a Present Perfect verb, you need to combine ‘not’ and the auxiliary verb ‘to have’. The short form are ‘hasn’t’ and ‘haven’t’. Remember to use the short forms in informal conversations and the long forms in a written, formal context.

Subject + has / have + not + Past Participle of Main Verb

Examples:
He hasn’t been to the theater before.
I still haven’t read anything from the summer readings list.
None of my plants have survived.

Note that there are many verbs that have irregular Simple Past and Past Participle forms. Make sure to learn the most common ones from our list!

Yes/No questions in Present Perfect

Yes/no questions in Present Perfect are formed by switching the auxiliary verb ‘to have’ and the subject. For example:
Have you been to Mallorca, yet?
Has your family lived on a farm for a long time?
Haven’t you paid the electricity bills already?

Open-ended quiestions in Present Perfect

In case of open-ended questions, always start with the questions word. After the questions word, follow the usual word order for questions: auxiliary verb – subject – main verb – object -etc. The auxiliary verb in Present Perfect is have which is then followed by the subject and the past participle of the main verb. For example,

What have you eaten for breakfast today?
Who have you just talked to on the phone?
When have you started watching this new show?

Typical adverbs of Present Perfect Tense

Already, yet, since …., for … years/days/hours, this morning/afternoon/evening, today, recently, lately, just, ever, never, so far, in the last few years/minutes/weeks

Some examples:
I have already been to the doctor.
I haven’t been to the doctor, yet.
I’ve been to the doctor this morning.
I’ve had the same doctor for 10 years.
I’ve recently found a new doctor.s
I’ve just found a new doctor.
I have never met such a great doctor before!
Have you ever met a doctor who cures cancer?
I haven’t found a good knee specialist so far.
I have met many doctors from India in the last few years.

Overview of Perfect Tenses

What is the perfect aspect

The perfect aspect focuses on the completion of an action. You need to use the perfect aspect if the action is / was / will be completed by a specific time. There is usually a very concrete consequence of the action. The action happened in the past, but the result of the action affects the present or the given point in time. This specific point in time is generally determined by a time expression, adverb or a clause (by the time I turn 21). It can also express an action that started in the past, but it is still happening.

Starbucks has served the best coffee for as long as I can remember.

This sentence indicates that Starbucks started serving the best coffee in the past and it still does in the present. Also, note the clause used to express time.

In past and future tenses, the perfect aspect is used to express different timelines of events. Using the perfect aspect, you can indicate that an action happened prior to another action even if both events happened in the past. The same is true for future tenses. Using the perfect aspect, the verb can indicate that an action will happen before another one in the future.

We had been married for 10 years when he finally decided to divorce me. → being married here happened prior to the decision to divorce
She will have finished her studies by 2020. → she will finish her studies first in the future and then 2020 will come

General structure of Perfect Tenses

S + conjugated form of ‘to have’ + Past Participle of the Main Verb + O

The auxiliary verb expressing a previous event is ‘to have’. ‘To have’ is always followed by the past participle of the main verb. Note that many verbs have irregular past participle forms. You can find a list of the most frequently used irregular verbs here. Make sure to conjugate ‘to have’ to agree with the subject of the sentence. The perfect aspect can be used in all tenses: present, past and future. Put the auxiliary verb ‘to have’ in the correct form of the present, past and future tenses to form a whole expression. For example,

I have been to Bali many times.

Note that there are many verbs that have irregular second and third forms. Make sure to learn the most common ones from our list!

How to use perfect tenses

As already mentioned above, perfect tenses are frequently used with different time expression. This time expression can be an adverb or a clause. When you use a clause, it is important to make sure that the tense agrees with the timeline of the events. The event that happened in the more distant past must be in Past Perfect and the event that happened closer to our present needs to be in Simple Past. For example,

We had been friends for years when he finally admitted that he loved me.

The same logic works in future tenses. The event prior to another event needs to be put in a perfect tense. For example,

The plane will have landed by 7 am.

Take a look at the following table to see the correct form of perfect verbs in each tense:

For/since – typical prepositions of Perfect Tenses

Perfect as well as Perfect Progressive Tenses use the prepositions ‘for’ and ‘since’ very often. It is very important to note that a time adverb using for or since in the sentance can change the meaning completely. Let’s take a look at this sentance first:
I have lived in Panama.
Without an adverb it means that I used to live in Panama in the past but I don’t live there anymore. However, look at what happens when we use an adverb:
I have lived in Panama since last summer.
Since last summer refers to the starting point, meaning that I started living in Panama last summer and I still live in Panama.

Let’s look at an example using ‘for’:

My mom has worked as a nurse.
This sentance means that my mom was a nurse once but today she might have another job.
My mom has worked as a nurse for 2 years.
This means that my mom started working as a nurse 2 years ago and she still works as a nurse today.

For a detailed explanation and usage, check out the individual page of each Simple Tense here:
Present Perfect Tense
Past Perfect Tense
Future Perfect Tense