In French there are two simple ways to talk about something that will happen in the future: Le Futur Proche (near future) and Le Futur (the future). This article will address how to form these two types of future tenses and when to use each of them. At the end of the article there will be a few practice exercises to make sure you understand the basics.
Le Futur Proche
We’ll start with the futur proche because it only requires you to correctly conjugate the verb aller (to go) in the present tense. Le futur proche is very beginner friendly and mimics English when you say something along the lines of “I am going to ______.” The near future denotes events that are certain to occur and are happening relatively soon. This tense is heard a lot in conversation.
Le futur proche involves using the correct conjugation of aller + an infinitive (unconjugated verb).
On va regarder un film ce soir.
We are going to watch a film tonight.
Je vais me coucher à minuit.
I’m going to sleep at midnight.
Nous n’allons pas aller au parc.
We aren’t going to go to the park.
TIP: an easy way to remember that the futur proche needs two verbs is to associate the word (futur proche = 2 words) with the number of verbs (2 verbs).
The French future is used to talk about more general or distant future events. These events are slightly more uncertain because the amount of time needed to elapse is greater than the near future. This future tense is easy to form however you’ll have to memorize certain irregular stems because they just happen to be important verbs. Its English equivalent is “I will ______.”
Le futur involves using the infinitive (or irregular stem) and then adding the correct avoir ending.
Your endings are –ai, –as, –a, –ons, –ez, and –ont respectively. So if I wanted to conjugate the verb parler (to speak) into the future tense then I take the verb “parler” and attach the correct ending.
Je parlerai (I will speak)
Tu parleras (You will speak)
Il/Elle/On parlera (He/She/We will speak)
Nous parlerons (We will speak)
Vous parlerez (You will speak)
Ils/Elles parleront (They (m.)/They (f.) will speak)
Un jour j’habiterai en France.
One day I’ll live in France.
Si elle va en Espagne, elle parlera espagnol.
If she goes to Spain she will speak Spanish.
Note: for -RE verbs you’ll have to drop the final “E” before adding on the appropriate endings.
Dans dix ans je vendrai ma voiture. (NOT vendreai)
In 10 years I will sell my car.
TIP: an easy way to remember that the future only needs one verb is to associate the word (futur = 1 word) with the number of verbs (1 verb).
Unfortunately, some French verbs use irregular stems which you’ll have to memorize. Don’t be confused though, these verbs still encompass le futur. You’ll have to take the appropriate stem and then add the same endings we previously introduced.
A Few Stems:
SER- (être – to be)
AUR- (avoir – to have)
IR- (aller – to go)
FER- (faire – to do/make)
VOUDR- (vouloir – to want)
POURR- (pouvoir – to want)
VERR- (voir – to see)
VIENDR- (venir – to come)
SAUR- (savoir – to know)
FAUDR- (falloir – must)
J’aurai seul le contrôle d’entreprise.
I’ll have sole control of the company.
On verra s’il y a des oranges chez eux!
We’ll see if there are some oranges at their place (I like weird sentences)!
L’année prochaine mes parents seront contents que je ferai des études au Canada.
Next year my parents will be happy that I’ll be studying in Canada (those jerks want to get rid of me).
1. Negate the following futur proche sentence: Je vais écouter la radio.
a. Je vais n’écouter pas la radio.
b. Je n’écouterai pas la radio.
c. Je ne vais pas écouter la radio.
2. Si tu bois une autre bière, tu ______ (vomir).
3. Dans six ans, je ______ (revenir) en France.
a. vas revenir
b. vais revenir
4. Transform the following sentence from the present to the futur proche: Nous nous reposons.
a. Nous nous irons reposer
b. Nous nous allons reposer
c. Nous allons nous reposer
5. Un jour, nous ______ dix chiens!
6. Gérand nous téléphonera aussitôt qu’il ______ en France.
c. va être
7. Conjugate the verbs être, aller, faire, and avoir in both the near future and future tenses for each possible subject.
1C, the ne and pas surround the first, conjugated verb
2B, the tu form uses the as ending
3C, in 6 years should tip you off that you’ll need le futur and not the near future
4C, in reflexive verbs, the nous sticks with the infinitive (se reposer)
5A, one day we will have 10 dogs (wackos)
6B, aussitôt (as soon as) is a hint that le futur must be utilized
7, être, aller, faire, avoir