Future Perfect Tense – Definition and Concept

We have already defined the tense of the verb as the time of occurrence or execution of the verb with respect to the time of making the statement. One of the three tenses of the verb is the present tense, which is further classified into four types.

The Future Perfect tense is that tense of the verb which is used when the verb has finished occurring or is completely executed after the time in which the statement is being made. A few examples below:

  • The union will have met today.
  • She will have performed to her potential.
  • I will have expected a full house at the multiplex.

In this article, we explore this tense in detail.

At the end of this article, the reader should be able to:

  • Understand the basic idea of Future Perfect Tense
  • Understand Subject-Verb agreement for the Future Perfect Tense
  • Understand the influence of auxiliaries and modals on Subject-Verb agreement
  • Study Future Perfect Tense in the Passive Voice
  • Learn the Negative forms of sentences in the Future Perfect Tense
  • Study the Interrogative forms of sentences in the Future Perfect Tense

Future Perfect Tense

As we’ve discussed above, the Future Perfect tense is that tense of the verb which is used when the verb has finished occurring or is completely executed after the time of the statement. Let us take a few more examples to understand the idea:

  • The board will have concluded that you’re delusional.
  • I will have reached the dormitory by tomorrow.
  • The guests will have arrived at the apartment.
  • Would you have come here today?

In each of the examples, we note how the verb shows the state of action or being of the noun or pronoun as completely executed after the time of the statement. Thus all of the verbs in these examples are in the Future Perfect Tense.

Subject Verb Agreement (Noun-Verb agreement)

In the Future Perfect Tense, Subject-Verb agreement is where we learn the general form of the verb for different nouns and pronouns. Since we have three persons (first, second and third) and two numbers (singular and plural) we study the different forms of the verb for all the six combinations:

First Person

  • I will have come to your place. (First person singular)
  • I will have taken the readings now. (First person singular)
  • We will have presented our arguments. (First person plural)
  • We will have anticipated a big contest here. (First person plural)

In each of the examples above, we see that the Future Perfect tense of verbs usually take the past participle form of the verb, with the same form for both singular and plural first person pronouns. The root form of the verb commonly uses the modal ‘will’ or ‘shall’, with other modals used less frequently.

First Person Singular form:

Pronoun + modal + root form of auxiliary (have) + Past Participle form of Verb

First Person Plural form:

Pronoun + modal + root form of auxiliary (have) + Past Participle form of Verb

Second Person

  • You will have been a sore loser.
  • You will have taken the lead.
  • Would you have completed the targets today?

In each of the examples above, we see that the Future Perfect tense of verbs usually take the past participle form of the verb, with the same form for both singular and plural second person pronouns, along with the root form of the auxiliary. The root form of the verb commonly uses the modal ‘will’ or ‘shall’, with other modals used less frequently.

Second Person Singular form:

Pronoun + modal + root form of auxiliary (have) + Past Participle form of Verb

Second Person Plural form:

Pronoun + modal + root form of auxiliary (have) + Past Participle form of Verb

Third Person

Nouns are generally in the third person, while pronouns can be of all persons. So nouns take the same form of the verb as third person pronouns. Examples include:

  • He will have emerged as a spin bowler for the national side. (Third person singular pronoun)
  • It will have grown all over the place. (Third person singular pronoun)
  • They will have brought the party home tonight. (Third person plural pronoun)
  • The Dalai Lama will have moved to India. (Singular noun)
  • These machines presently will have processed 35 bottles per minute. (Plural noun)

In each of the examples above, we see that the Future Perfect tense of verbs usually take the past participle form of the verb, with the same form for both singular and plural third person pronouns and nouns. The root form of the verb commonly uses the modal ‘will’ or ‘shall’, with other modals used less frequently.

Third Person Singular form:

Noun/Pronoun + modal + root form of auxiliary (have) + Past Participle form of Verb

Third Person Plural form:

Noun/Pronoun + modal + root form of auxiliary (have) + Past Participle form of Verb

Auxiliaries and Modals [1] in Future Perfect Tense

Auxiliaries and modals have the same function in a sentence: assist the verb. While auxiliaries change with the tense of the verb, modals do not.

Auxiliaries

The root form of the auxiliary have [2] are used with the past participle verb across all forms of nouns and pronouns. We have already understood these forms in the previous section. Let us study these forms in particular now.

Modals however can be used to enhance the meaning of the verb. Upon using a modal with the verb in the Future Perfect form, the auxiliary verb is reduced to its root form have. Let us take a few examples, where we observe the effect of addition of a modal:

  • I will have taken the readings now. (First person singular taking root form have)
  • We will have anticipated a big contest. (First person plural taking root form have)
  • You will have been a pessimist. (Second person taking root form have)
  • It will have grown all over the place. (Third person singular taking root form have)
  • The board might have concluded that you’re delusional.
  • I could have reached the dormitory by now.
  • They will have brought the party home tonight. (Third person plural taking root form have)
  • The manager will have left the company. (Singular noun taking root form have)
  • The board members will have proposed a merger. (Plural noun taking root form have)
  • The guests may have arrived at the apartment.

Each of these modals effectively reduces the auxiliary to the root form have. Hence we have different rules for Future Perfect tense with the inclusion of modals.

Future Perfect Tense in Passive Voice

A sentence or a verb is in active voice when the subject is the executioner of the verb, while passive voice is when the subject is the recipient of the verb. With a change in voice, all pronouns and nouns take different forms of the verb. We explore that in this section. Let us note the following examples:

  • Active: I will have taken the readings now. (First Person singular)
  • Passive: The readings will be been taken now.
  • Active: Will you have taken the targets today? (Second Person)
  • Passive: Will the targets be been completed today?
  • Active: They will have brought the party home tonight. (Third person plural pronoun)
  • Passive: The party will be been brought home tonight.

In each of the examples above, the passive form of the verb in the future perfect tense takes the root form be and also the past participle form been. While this is termed as grammatically correct, it is an example of paraphrasing error, which is why many adaptations of the Future Perfect tense show their corresponding passive force as non-existent.

Interrogative Sentences in the Future Perfect Tense

Here, we study the rearrangement of words of a sentence with a change in type to interrogative sentences. Let us begin with a few examples from the previous sections:

  • The union will have met today.
  • She will have performed to her potential.
  • You will have come here by tomorrow.
  • I will have taken the readings by now.
  • You will have completed the targets by this week.
  • It will have grown all over the place.

The above sentences make a regular statement or what we call assert. Hence these are examples of assertive sentences. Let us now put these into the interrogative form:

  • Will the union have met today?
  • Will she have performed to her potential?
  • Will you have come here by tomorrow?
  • Will I have taken the readings by now?
  • Will you have completed the targets this week?
  • Will it have grown all over the place?

The Observations:

Since modal verbs are mandatorily used with verbs in the Future Perfect Tense, we observe that all verbs in the Future Perfect tense are in the past participle form, even in their interrogative forms.

Thus the different interrogative forms of assertive sentences use the following formation:

Modal + Subject Noun/Pronoun + Root form of Auxiliary + Past Participle form of Verb

Negative Sentences in the Future Perfect Tense

What happens when we change the form of assertive sentences from positive to negative form?

Let us take the examples above again:

  • The union will have met today.
  • She will have performed to her potential.
  • You will have come here by tomorrow.
  • I will have taken the readings by now.
  • You will have completed the targets by this week.
  • It will have grown all over the place.

When we convert them into the negative form, we get:

  • The union will not have met today.
  • She will not have performed to her potential.
  • You will not have come here by tomorrow.
  • I will not have taken the readings by now.
  • You will not have completed the targets by this week.
  • It will not have grown all over the place.

The Observations:

Since modal verbs are mandatorily used with verbs in the Future Perfect Tense, we observe that all verbs in the Future Perfect tense are in the past participle form, even in their negative forms.

Thus the different negative forms of assertive sentences use the following formation:

Subject Noun/Pronoun + modal + not + auxiliary (root form) + Past Participle form of Verb

Conclusion

This concludes the discussion on the Future Perfect Tense.

Notes

[1] The use of modals on verbs (other than will and shall, which are explicitly used to indicate future tense) in the Future Tenses creates confusion about the tense of the sentence. Note the examples in the discussion on modals. The addition of a modal reduces the verb from Future form to root form and thus the sentence resembles their present tense equivalent.

This means that the sentence takes the Simple Present form (with modal) if initially expressed in Simple Future form (without modal), Present Continuous form (with modal) if initially expressed in Future Continuous form (without modal), Present Perfect form (with modal) if initially expressed in Future Perfect form (without modal), and Present Perfect Continuous form (with modal) if initially expressed in Future Perfect Continuous form (without modal).

Readers can verify the above statement by comparing the section on modals of the articles on the corresponding forms of Present and Future Tense, especially the examples of sentences after the implementation of modals other than will and shall.

Thus in situations like these, the role of adverbs becomes quite important, as they are the determiner of the tense of these sentences. Sometimes, even after the use of adverbs, the tense of the sentence is left ambiguous. In that case, irrespective of the form of the sentence before the inclusion of modals, we identify these sentences as being in the Present Tense. The subtype of the Present Tense can thereafter be determined by the conventional methods discussed in the articles on Present Tense.

[2] The past participle form of the main verb is used along with the different forms of the auxiliary is in the Simple future tense. We have discussed them in the article on Simple Future Tense. In that case, the resultant sentence is the passive form of a sentence in the simple future tense. For example:

  • The whole house might just be brought down (by him)

This sentence is a passive form of a sentence in the Simple Future Tense. And for example:

  • They will have brought the party home tonight.

This sentence is an active form of a sentence in the Future Perfect Tense.

It is very important to examine all the verbs of the sentence to recognize and express the tense. Reader discretion is advised when the general verb expressions are learnt.