French Future Tense

The French future tense has two forms: the future proche (je vais parler, I’m going to speak) and the futur simple (je parlerai). This lesson will discover how to form both future tenses (endings for futur simple) and discuss their subtle differences.

Futur proche: the near future tense

The future proche is formed by following a conjugated form of aller + infinitive. For example, je vais manger means I’m going to eat. Je vais is the conjugated form of aller in the first-person singular form and manger is the infinitive of to eat.

Forming the futur proche

Je vais parler -> I'm going to speakNous allons parler -> We're going to speak
Tu vas parler -> You're going to speakVous allez parler -> You're doing to speak
Il, elle on va parler -> He, she one's going to speakIls, elles vont parler -> They're going to speak

Uses and examples of the futur proche

The futur proche often suggests a high level of certainty, meaning it is very likely that the event will happen in the future. Name of the tense is literally the “near” future tense, the described event can occur both in the immediate (next few minutes) or more distant (next few years) future. The main point is that there is that the level of certainty is higher than the futur simple, which we will see below.

Examples:

  • Je vais acheter les billets. I am going to buy the tickets (it is certain; I have a reservation).
  • Nous allons dîner au restaurant. We are going to eat in a restaurant (again it is certain, we have a reservation).
  • Ils vont achter la maison. They are going to buy the house (Again, it is certain – they got approved for the loan).

Negation

To negate the future proche, wrap ne…pas around the conjugated form or aller. For example:

  • Je ne vais pas manger. I’m not going to eat.
  • Il ne va pas travailler. He’s not going to dance.

Futur simple: future tense

The future simple is also referred to as the French future tense. To form the the futur simple, specific endings are added to the end of the infinitive. Je parlerai means I will speak. The futur simple endings are: -ai, -as, -a, -ons, -ez and -ont. The endings are actually avoir (to have) in the present tense (j’ai, tu as, il a, etc.).

Futur simple endings for regular verbs

The following table shows the futur simple endings for regular verbs. Verb endings are bolded. For regular -re verbs, remove the -e from the infinitive and put the futur simple ending. For example, je vendrai (I will sell).

PARLER TO SPEAK
je parlerai
tu parleras
il parlera
nous parlerons
vous parlerez
ils parleront
FINIR TO FINISH
je finirai
tu finiras
il finira
nous finirons
vous finirez
ils finiront
VENDRE TO SELL
je vendrai
tu vendras
il vendra
nous vendrons
vous vendrez
ils vendront

Irregular verb stems

Many French verbs have an irregular stem in the futur simple. This means that rather than just adding the ending ot the infinitive (je parlerai), the infinitive appears in a completely different spelling. For example, for the verb être (to be), the futur simple is je serai (I will be). Beginners are suggested to memorize this list.

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InfinitiveEnglishIrregular StemEnglish
allerto goj'iraiI'll go
apercevoirto noticej'apercevraiI'll notice
avoirto havej'auraiI'll have
courirto runje courraiI'll run
devenirto becomeje deviendraiI'll become
devormust, have toje devraiI'll have to
envoyerto sendj'enverraiI'll send
êtreto becomeje seraiI'll become
faireto make, doje feraiI'll make, do
falloirto be necessaryil faudraIt will be necessary
mourirto dieje mourraiI'll die
pleuvoirto rainil pleuvraIt will rain
pouvoircan, to be able toje pourraiI'll be able to
recevoirto receiveje recevraiI'll receive
revenirto come back, returnje reviendraiI'll be back
savoirto knowje sauraiI'll know
tenirto holdje tiendraiI'll hold
valoirto be worthil vaudraIt will be worth
venirto comeje viendraiI'll come
voirto seeje verraiI'll see
vouloirto wantje vouraiI'll want
ER verbs with stem/spelling changes
acheterto buyj'achêteraiI'll buy
appelerto callj'appelleraiI'll call
employerto hirej'emploieraiI'll hire
essuyerto wipej'essuieraiI'll wipe
jeterto throwje jetteraiI'll throw
nettoyerto cleanje nettoieraiI'll clean
préférerto preferje préféreraiI'll prefer
s'asseoirto sitje m'assiérai or je m'assoiraiI'll sit

Futur simple uses

The following example sentences all use the futur simple. You will see that they all include an element of uncertainty.

  • Si j’ai l’argent, j’achèterai la voiture. I’ll buy the car if I have the money.
  • J’espère qu’elle viendra demain. I hope she’ll come tomorrow.
  • Je pense qu’il pleuvra demain. I think it’ll rain tomorrow.
  • Je crois que les enfants seront très heureux. I believe the kids will be very happy.

Future-future rule

There is a grammatical in French which I called the “future-future” rule. In English, you say “I will call you when I arrive”. In French, the futur simple is used for both verbs in this kind of sentence. Hence it would look like: “I WILL call you when I WILL arrive” or “Je vous téléphonerai quand j’ariverai”. The following sentences are examples of the future-future rule. The trigger words for this rule are underlined.

  • Je t’appellerai dès que j’aurai les nouvelles. I’ll call you once I get the news.
  • Je partirai en vacances quand il fera beau. I’ll go on vacation when it’s nice out.
  • Il se couchera dès qu‘il finira son travail. He’ll go to bed once he finishes his work.
  • J’achèterai une maison quand j’aurai assez d’argent. I’ll buy a house when I have enough money.

Si clause sentence with futur simple

The futur simple can be used in sentences like, “If I have the money, I will buy the car”. Si j’ai l’argent, j’achetèrai la voiture. The rule is: Si + present tense, then + futur simple. Here are some examples:

  • Si j’ai le temps, je partirai en vacances. I’ll go on vacation if I have the time.
  • Si j’ai les moyens, j’acheterai le bateau. I’ll buy the boat if I can afford it.

Summary

There are two ways to express the future in French: The futur proche and the future simple. The future proche has a high degree of certainty is formed with aller + infinitive (Je vais parler = I am going to speak). The futur simple describes less certain events and is formed by adding endings to the infinitive (Je parlerai = I will speak).

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