Trying to get a good grasp on the French future tense in your French course but found it a bit challenging?
That’s probably because French verb conjugation can be a bit tricky.
When you add to this the fact that there are different future tenses used in French, this will add to your workload in terms of the verb conjugations you will have to remember.
French future tenses aren’t as challenging mastering French pronunciation or getting the accent marks correct, in my opinion.
Keep reading and I’ll show you why.
What are the main French future tenses?
In French, there are three main future tense modes to consider.
These future tenses are:
- The French simple future tense (le futur simple)
- The aller + infinitive mode (le futur proche), and
- The French anterior future tense (le futur antérieur)
I’ll expand on these future tense modes in detail.
How to use the French simple future tense
The French simple future tense is used to describe events that will occur in the future.
To help you understand this better, here’s a sentence that uses the simple future form in English:
‘Chelsea will become champions of Europe in the Champions league’.
The keyword ‘will’ that you see in the English example is usually contained within a French verb to indicate that the sentence uses the French simple future tense.
Here are a few examples for you:
Elle étudiera l’informatique à partir du mois prochain.
Il achètera une nouvelle maison la semaine prochaine.
I mentioned that the word ‘will’ is contained within the corresponding French verb.
This is where French verb conjugation comes into play. Take the examples above. The endings of the verbs étudiera and achètera, which mean ‘will study’ and ‘will buy’ respectively, have been altered from their infinitive forms.
This is how you know that these events will happen in the future.
What that means is that mastering French verb conjugation is crucial if you want to gain confidence with the French simple future tense.
Every French verb in the infinitive ends in an ER, IR or RE.
So, to create the relevant verb conjugation, you will need to replace the ER, IR and RE verb endings with the appropriate suffix.
Here are some simple future verb conjugations for ER, IR and RE verbs:
Note that the subject pronoun J’/Je should be contracted to the J’ form when used in front of a verb that begins with a vowel.
Using the aller + infinitive mode (le futur proche) to talk about events in the near future
The second French future tense is the aller + infinitive mode.
This mode is similar to the French simple future mode but differs due to the way it should be conjugated. It also uses a different formula to the simple future tense.
In a similar way to the English future tense, which uses the verb ‘going to’, the aller + infinitive mode uses the French verb aller (to go) in the present tense. So, if you wanted to say that you’re going to visit France, you would say:
Je vais visiter la France.
Here’s a second example of the aller + infinitive mode in action:
Elle va bien dormir ce soir.
As you might have noticed from the examples above, the verb aller needs to be altered if you want to refer to different people or subjects of the sentence. Here’s how you can conjugate the French verb aller, to help you form sentences using the aller + infinitive mode:
Now you can see that if you were speaking about an event in the future that will happen to a different subject, you would need to select the right conjugation of the verb aller and follow it with a verb in the infinitive form.
For instance, to say ’we are going to sleep well tonight’ instead of ’she is going to sleep well tonight’, the nous form of the verb aller would be required:
Nous allons bien dormir ce soir.
Our final point about the aller + infinitive mode is to emphasise that a verb in the infinitive form always needs to follow the verb aller. This is because the conjugated verb aller on its own just means ‘going to’. So, you’ll need to add an infinitive verb such as dormir (without conjugating it) to create sentences — like the example we’ve included above.
When to use the French anterior future (future perfect) tense
The French anterior future tense is used to refer to events that are likely to be finished by a particular moment in time — which would be some time in the future. It is also used in moments where you assume an event has already been completed in the past. In English you would use the phrase ‘will have’ to use this tense. For instance:
‘She will have finished this article by the end of the day.’
Take a look at the French version of the anterior future tense:
Demain elle aura fini de planter les graines.
Demain il aura fini son travail.
To create sentences in the French future perfect tense, you will need to conjugate the verb avoir (‘to have’) in the future tense, and follow it up with the past participle of the verb that describes the action you’re talking about.
For the examples above, we have used the past participle of the verb ‘finished’ (fini).
Take a look at the following table to help you with the conjugation of the verb avoir:
Why some French natives use the present tense when describing the future
You might sometimes hear French natives using the present tense for future events.
As a French beginner, this might seem confusing at first. But, if you think about it, this is similar to English. Say you wanted to mention that you’re leaving tomorrow to go to France.
In English you could even say:
‘We leave tomorrow to go to France’.
We don’t always say ‘we will be leaving tomorrow to go to France’. We sometimes use the present tense in colloquial conversations.
And this is the same in French. For instance, you might hear people say:
Nous allons à Angleterre demain.
Get your conjugations correct: keep practicing your French future tense
Now it’s your turn.
Key to becoming a master of the French future tense are verb conjugations. And you might have noticed that there are lots of them.
Work your way through the stack and write down the conjugations for each one. Then check whether you’ve got them right. This will augment what you learn in your French course and help you become more confident with the French future tense.
I also recommend that you take a look at the French learning resources page, which cover verbs and tenses in greater detail.
Got any other advice on how to gain confidence with the French future tense?
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