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By That Time, I Will Have Been Singing for Hours

Lesson Topic: Future Perfect Progressive

Television began broadcasting in 1947. Therefore, people have been watching TV for 53 years. Will we stop watching TV tomorrow? No. Will we stop in the next few years? No. People will continue to watch TV for a very, very long time. By the year 2007, how many years will people have been watching TV? The answer is

By the year 2007, people will have been watching TV for 60 years.

No, we are not trying to teach you math. No, we are not changing our name to MyMathTeacher.net. So, why did we ask you? We asked you because the grammar used in the answer is this month's grammar lesson: the future perfect progressive.

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How do you form the future perfect progressive?  Take a look:

  I will have been working
 
  noun or pronoun will have been verb + ing

 

  

By 2005, I will have been working for 20 years.

The future perfect progressive often has the phrase by the time which means before that time.

The future perfect progressive is used when you want to know or tell someone how long an action has been happening at a future point. The action started before that future point, and it will continue after the future point you speak about. Let's take a look at the following timeline to help us:

Timeline of events of above situation

1947

today

2003

2005 2007 2009 2010
People begin watching TV.

>------------------------------------People watch TV-------------------->

Sentence with future perfect progressive: By the year 2007, people will have been watching TV for 60 years.  (This action will continue past 2007.)


Do you see that the future point we chose was the year 2007? We could have chosen any year or time. We could have chosen 2008. We could have even chosen 3008! It doesn't matter. The action in this situation (people watching TV) will continue PAST the future point we chose (2007). We just want to know how long people will have been watching TV up to that future point (2007). When you want to know how long something will have been happening up to a future point, you usually use the future perfect progressive.

Here is another situation:
In 1753, Jean-François Pilatre de Rozier became the world’s first human flier by using a balloon.

Question: By the year 2053, how long will man have been flying?

Answer: By the year 2053, man will have been flying for 300 years.

Do you understand all of this?  Great! 

There is one more thing you must remember: some verbs usually do NOT have -ing.  For example, we say I know you.  We would never say I am knowing you.  That's because know canNOT have -ing (unless it is a gerund, which is not a verb anyway).  Verbs that cannot have -ing are called stative verbs.  Here is a list of stative verbs.  The words on the following list rarely have -ing.  Therefore, they are rarely used with the future perfect progressive.

STATIVE VERBS

know understand owe possess be
have* belong contain equal resemble
tend perceive suppose believe decide
conclude prefer love like seem
*have with the meaning of possession: I have a pen.

Because these verbs cannot be used with the future perfect progressive, you can just use the future perfect.  When you use the future perfect with stative verbs, the meaning is usually the same as the future perfect progressive

Let's show you an example:

I met you in 1989.  I know you now.

The verb we want to use with the future perfect progressive is know.  Therefore, we write

By the time I retire in 2025, I will have been knowing you for 36 years.

Is this correct?  No. The verb know is a stative verb, so it cannot have -ing.  So what should you do?  Write this sentence in the future perfect:

By the time I retire in 2025, I will have known you for 36 years.

To better understand the future perfect, please click here to see our lesson on this grammar.

Last, some verbs can be used in both the future perfect and the future perfect progressive, and they still have the same meaning.  For example

future perfect progressive By 2010, I will have been living in San Francisco for 20 years.

same meaning

future perfect By 2010, I will have lived in San Francisco for 20 years.

 

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Quiz

Directions: For each situation there are 2 pieces of information: when the action or situation, and a question.  Using this information, make a sentence with the future perfect progressive.  Use by the time if necessary.  Number 1 has been done for you.  There may be more than one answer.

1.  Action/situation: Doctors began using morphine in the 1860s. 

     Question: By 2010, how long will doctors have been using morphine?

     Answer: By 2010, doctors will have been using morphine for about 150 years.

2.  Action/situation: I started writing my book in November.

     Question: By May, how long will I have been writing my book?

     Answer:

3.  Action/situation: I became a computer programmer in 1997. I am still a computer programmer.

     Question: In 2050, how long will I have been a computer programmer?

     Answer:

4.  Action/situation: Brian started looking for a job on Sunday.

     Question: On Tuesday, how long will Brian have been looking for a job?

     Answer:

5.  Action/situation: Ever since Mei drank it in 2001, she has preferred drinking black tea over anything else.

     Question: In 2004, how long will Mei have preferred drinking black tea?

     Answer:

6.  Action/situation: People began taking pictures in the 1830’s.

     Question: By 2080, how long will people have been taking pictures?

     Answer:

7.  Action/situation: My family and I started vacationing in Hawaii in 1975.

     Question: In 2005, how long will we have been vacationing in Hawaii?

     Answer:

8.  Action/situation: I lent Jimmy $20 on Tuesday, and he said that he was going to return the money on Thursday.  Today is Saturday.

     Question: By tomorrow, how long will Jimmy have owed me money?

     Answer:

9.  Action/situation: MyEnglishTeacher.net began teaching English to the world in October 2000.

     Question: By the end of this year, how long will MyEnglishTeacher.net have been teaching English to the world?

     Answer:

10.  Action/situation: I moved to Seoul in 1998.  I have lived there ever since.

     Question: By the end of the year, how long will I have been living in Seoul?

     Answer:

1.  Action/situation: Doctors began using morphine in the 1860s. 

     Question: By 2010, how long will doctors have been using morphine?

     Answer: By 2010, doctors will have been using morphine for about 150 years.

2.  Action/situation: I started writing my book in November.

     Question: By May, how long will I have been writing my book?

     Answer: By May, I will have been writing my book for six months.

3.  Action/situation: I became a computer programmer in 1997. I am still a computer programmer.

     Question: In 2050, how long will I have been a computer programmer?

     Answer: In 2050, I will have been a computer programmer for 53 years.

     Explanation:  The verb is be (am), which is a stative verb.  Therefore, we use the future perfect.

4.  Action/situation: Brian started looking for a job on Sunday.

     Question: On Tuesday, how long will Brian have been looking for a job?

     Answer: On Tuesday, Brian will have been looking for a job for 3 days.

5.  Action/situation: Ever since Mei drank it in 2001, she has preferred drinking black tea over anything else.

     Question: In 2004, how long will Mei have preferred drinking black tea?

     Answer: In 2004, Mei will have preferred drinking black tea for 3 full years.

     Explanation:  The verb is prefer, which is a stative verb.  Therefore we use the future perfect.  Drinking is a gerund.

6.  Action/situation: People began taking pictures in the 1830’s.

     Question: By 2080, how long will people have been taking pictures?

     Answer: By 2080, people will have been taking pictures for 150 years.

7.  Action/situation: My family and I started vacationing in Hawaii in 1975.

     Question: In 2005, how long will we have been vacationing in Hawaii?

     Answer: In 2005, we will have been vacationing in Hawaii for 30 years.

8.  Action/situation: I lent Jimmy $20 on Tuesday, and he said that he was going to return the money on Thursday.  Today is Saturday.

     Question: By tomorrow, how long will Jimmy have owed me money?

     Answer: By tomorrow, Jimmy will have owed me $20 for 5 days.

     Explanation:  The verb is owe, which is a stative verb.  Therefore we use the future perfect.

9.  Action/situation: MyEnglishTeacher.net began teaching English to the world in October 2000.

     Question: By the end of this year, how long will MyEnglishTeacher.net have been teaching English to the world?

     Answer: By the end of this year, MyEnglishTeacher.net will have been teaching the world English for 3 years.

10.  Action/situation: I moved to Seoul in 1998.  I have lived there ever since.

     Question: By the end of the year, how long will I have been living in Seoul?

     Answer: By the end of the year, I will have been living in Seoul for 4 years.

                  -OR-

                  By the end of the year, I will have lived in Seoul for 4 years.

     Explanation:  The verb is live, which is a verb that can be used in both the future perfect and future perfect progressive.  Both of these sentences have the same meaning..

Rules to Remember!

1 The word perfect in English grammar means past or finished.  Therefore, the future perfect indicates something in the future will be finished BEFORE another event.
2 For more lessons on perfect tenses, see our previous lessons:
3 For a list of irregular past participles, click here.
4 We recommend that you also look at our lesson on gerunds

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