The future tense in French

by Audrey Sivadier
April 06, 2021
man studying The future tense in French

If you have started learning French, you know that verb conjugation is one of the most difficult areas of the language. But, fear not! We have some good news for you. The future tense is the simplest of the French tenses! In fact, it’s called the “futur simple”! Here’s how to form and use it.

The future simple tense in French – a real Lego game

If you’re a builder at heart or a Lego fan, you’ll be able to fall back into childhood thanks to the conjugation of the future simple tense in French. The first thing you need to know is that verbs in the future simple tense have two parts: the infinitive and an ending.

The infinitive is the form in which you find a verb when you look it up in the dictionary. There are verbs that end in -ER, -IR, -RE, -OIR, -DRE.

The endings to add are : -ai, -as, – a, -ons, -ez, -ont. They come from the verb ” avoir ” (to have) in the present tense. 

  • J’ai
  • Tu as
  • Il/Elle a
  • Nous avons
  • Vous avez
  • Ils/Elles ont

You now have the recipe for the simple future tense in French. Let’s try it with some verbs:

Infinitive+ endings= Future simple
MANGER (to eat)-aiJe mangerai
FINIR (to finish)-asTu finiras
BOIRE (to drink)-aIl boira
DIRE (to say)-onsNous dirons
METTRE (to put)-ezVous mettrez
ÉCRIRE (to write)-ontIls écriront

There is only one small change to note for verbs ending with an -e in the infinitive such as boire, écrire, dire: these verbs lose their final “e” in the future tense.

Example: LIRE (to read) je lirai (and not je lireai)

How to order food in a French restaurant

Future simple always simple? – A few exceptions

Of course, if there weren’t a few exceptions, this wouldn’t be French conjugation! It’s just that some verbs have been used so much over the centuries that they have lost their regularity… but not their logic! The endings remain the same, it’s just that their base is not the infinitive form, but an invented form. Here are some of them:

InfinitiveBase Future simple
ÊTRE (to be)Ser-Je serai, tu seras, il sera…
AVOIR (to have)Aur-J’aurai, tu auras, elle aura…
ALLER (to go)Ir-J’ira, tu iras, il ira…
FAIRE (to do)Fer-Je ferai, tu feras, elle fera…
VOIR (to see)Verr-Je verrai, tu verras, il verra…
VENIR (to come)Viendr-Je viendrai, tu viendras, elle viendra…
TENIR (to hold)Tiendr-Je tiendrai, tu tiendras, il tiendra…
ENVOYER (to send)Enverr-J’enverrai, tu enverras, elle enverra…
RECEVOIR (to receive)Recevr-Je recevrai, tu recevras, il recevra…
MOURIR (to die)Mourr-Je mourrai, tu mourras, elle mourra…
FALLOIR (have to)Faudr-Il faudra
PLEUVOIR (to rain)Pleuvr-Il pleuvra

The near future – not so near but certain

If you’re just starting to learn French and are frustrated that you haven’t learned the simple future tense yet, you can still express future actions using the near future tense. Even simpler than the simple future tense (and this time without exception)! You just need to know the verb ” aller ” (to go) in the present tense.

  • Je vais
  • Tu vas
  • Il/Elle va
  • Nous allons
  • Vous allez
  • Ils/Elles vont

You now know the first part of the future tense. For the second part, you just need to add your action with an infinitive verb. This is the equivalent of “going to + v. infinitive” in English.

  • Je vais travailler (I’m going to work)
  • Tu vas manger (you’re going to eat)
  • Il/Elle va payer (he/she is going to pay)
  • Nous allons parler (we are going to talk)
  • Vous allez voyager (you’re going to travel)
  • Ils/Elles vont venir (they are going to come)

How to use them? – changing and planning

The simple future tense expresses projects, not necessarily concrete:

  • Quand je serai vieux, je vivrai à la campagne. (When I am old, I will live in the countryside.)
  • Dans cinq ans, j’habiterai en France. (In five years I will be living in France.)

The near future expresses an immediate or foreseeable, rather certain event:

  • Attention, tu vas tomber ! (Be careful, you’re going to fall! )
  • Le temps est mauvais, il va pleuvoir. (The weather is bad, it’s going to rain.)

To differentiate between the two tenses, it is important to remember that the near future tense generally indicates a change:

  • Ma fille va avoir un bébé. (my daughter is going to have a baby): it means the daughter is already pregnant.

Whereas the simple future tense indicates planning:

  • J’aurai un bébé quand j’aurai fini mes études. (I’ll have a baby when I finish my studies)

We therefore often use the near future for changes and the simple future for consequences:

  • On va apprendre le français avec Lingoda et on pourra parler avec aisance ! (We’ll learn French with Lingoda and we’ll be able to speak with ease!)

Come on, you too can make plans with Lingoda and schedule your next course!

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