While continuing on my quest to learn tenses....

How is the meaning of 1 and 2 different ? Don't they both mean the same thing ?

  1. I will have studied for two hours by the time she calls me tonight. (FP)

  2. I will have been studying for two hours by the time she calls me tonight. (FPP)

By definition (paraphrasing),

FP represents a timeline where "first future action" finishes before the "second future action".


FPP represents a timeline where "first future action" continues until the "second future action".

However, in the above phrases, they both seem to imply that the "first future action (study for two hours)" will continue after the "second future action (she call me tonight)". Don't they ?


  • 1
    2. could give the nuance of you still currently studying when she calls you. But honestly if you said either of those things I would interpret them the same way. I don't think theres a difference in meaning
    – bobbin
    Jan 6, 2019 at 14:02
  • Apart from what @bobbin says, the future perfect progressive also gives the idea of the action of studying involving more effort. While FP merely states that the first action will have finished by the time the second future action takes place, the FPP adds the idea of the process of studying having demanded ongoing dedication.
    – Gustavson
    Jan 6, 2019 at 14:36
  • 1
    @ Gustason I respectfully disagree. Tense reflects temporal distinctions, not degree of effort. "I shall have studied before the exam" does not imply that my studies were frivolous, Nor does "I shall have been studying before we go to the movies" imply diligence in those studies. Jan 6, 2019 at 15:23
  • I agree with @JeffMorrow, those sentences don't give me any perspective on if the speaker was studying hard or not.
    – bobbin
    Jan 6, 2019 at 15:48
  • @JeffMorrow You have misinterpreted my point. Compare "I have worked for two days" with "I have been working for two days". The progressive does suggest, not harder work, but an intensity that the simple form lacks. Also, "I have waited for two hours" and "I have been waiting for two hours". Don't you notice some annoyance in the second sentence, implying that the wait seems to have been longer from the speaker's perspective?
    – Gustavson
    Jan 6, 2019 at 18:09

2 Answers 2


This question is hard to answer because (1) many native speakers will view the two statements as perfectly equivalent, and (2) the two statements differ in formal meaning very subtly.

"I will have studied for two hours before she calls" means that the call will occur after two hours of study without implying that the call will mark the end of that two hours. Time may or may not have elapsed between the end of two hours of study and the call.

"I will have been studying for two hours before she calls" is more restrictive in that it does mean that the call marks the end of that particular two hours of study.

It is a very slight difference in meaning that very few are likely to make in speech and that not many would consciously make in even formal writing. If the distinction is important, there are far clearer ways to make it than tense.


At least to me, "I will have studied for two hours by the time she calls me tonight" (future perfect) means that you will have already finished studied and that that studying took two hours, at which point she will call you.
"I will have been studying for two hours" (future perfect continuous) means that you will be in the middle of the studying that you will have started two hours before, and that she will interrupt you by calling.

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