0

Conversation 1

John: Will we be delayed here in Boston for long?
Dave: I'm afraid so. The train _____ the station for an hour.
a. won't have left
b. won't be left
c. won't be leaving
d. won't have been leaving


Conversation 2

Nick: This job is endless.
Joe: I know. By the end of May, we _____ the house for two months.
a. will have painted
b. have painted
c. will paint
d. will have been painting

Can we use the future perfect continuous, i.e. the last options, in the above sentences? If not, what are the best options and why?

1

Conversation 1

John: Will we be delayed here in Boston for long?

c) Dave: I'm afraid so. The train won't be leaving the station for an hour.

This is the correct answer. We can use the present continuous or future continuous - or sometimes the simple present - to describe planned and scheduled future events ("I'll be leaving in ten minutes", "I'm leaving in ten minutes", "the train is leaving at 4 pm", "the train'll be leaving at 4 pm", "it won't be leaving for an hour", "it isn't leaving for an hour", "it doesn't leave for an hour", etc).

a) Dave: I'm afraid so. The train won't have left the station for an hour.

This answer is acceptable (at least in some contexts - I can't tell you whether it would be acceptable to the examiner).

b) Dave: I'm afraid so. The train won't be left the station for an hour.

This is completely ungrammatical. A native speaker hearing it might not even understand what you were trying to say.

d) Dave: I'm afraid so. The train won't have been leaving the station for an hour.

This one sounds very odd indeed. It may not technically be ungrammatical, but it's hard to think of circumstances in which it would be idiomatic.

Conversation 2

Nick: This job is endless.

d) Joe: I know. By the end of May, we will have been painting the house for two months.

This is the best answer. You have a sense of the fact that the painting is an ongoing action and the fact that it probably won't have been completed even at the end of May.

a) Joe: I know. By the end of May, we will have painted the house for two months.

This is less likely, and suggests that the painting will be complete at the end of May.

b) Joe: I know. By the end of May, we have painted the house for two months.

This doesn't work at all. The closest I can get to making sense of it would be either if Joe was speaking on the last day of May (but I think he would have to say "at the end of May" or "as of the end of May", and he'd probably use the perfect continuous) or if Joe was writing a narrative in the historic present (and thus using a present perfect where one would normally use a past perfect to describe how much progress had been made by the end of May - but here too I would probably expect the perfect continuous - and besides, we know it's a conversation and not a narrative written in the historic present).

c) Joe: I know. By the end of May, we will paint the house for two months.

This means that towards the end of May, they'll start painting the house and will continue doing so for the following two months. But it's hard to imagine this is the expected interpretation of the dialogue.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.