Using the French Future Tense

Man looking at watch while eating outside
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When you're starting to learn any language, you need to know how to use the future tense. Although it functions similarly in French as in English, some differences are worth considering. 

Basic Future Tense in French

The French future tense talks about upcoming events. While the French future tense has a full set of conjugations, the English equivalent is just the modal verb "will" plus the main verb. For example:

  • J'irai au magasin demain. / I will go to the store tomorrow.
  • Ils mangeront dans l'avion. / They will eat on the plane.

Conditional Use

The French future tense can also be used in si clauses, to express what will happen if a condition is met:

  • Si j'ai le temps, je le ferai. / If I have time, I will do it.
  • Je le ferai si j'ai le temps. / I will do it if I have time.

French Vs. English

There are some differences between the French and English future tenses. When the action of the verb after certain constructions will take place in the future, the future tense is used in French, whereas in English the present tense is used:

  • Quand il arrivera, nous mangerons. / When he arrives, we will eat.
  • Je vous téléphonerai dès que je pourrai. / I'll call you as soon as I can.

In journalism and other factual narration, the future is often used in French even though the events are in the past:

  • Né en Martinique, Aimé Césaire étudiera à Paris et redécouvrira l'Afrique. / Born in Martinique, Aimé Césaire studied in Paris and rediscovered Africa.

In French, the future can also be used for polite orders and requests, in place of the vous form of the imperative:

  • Vous fermerez la porte, s'il vous plaît. / Close the door, please.

To express something that is going to occur very soon, you also can use the futur proche (near future tense).

Irregular Verbs

The future is one of the simplest French tenses. There is only one set of endings for all verbs, and most of them—even many that are irregular in the present tense—use their infinitive as the root. French has only about two dozen stem-changing or irregular verbs that have irregular future stems but take the same endings. The exact same verbs are irregular in the conditional and use the same stems.

  • acheter > achèter-   similar verbs: achever, amener, emmener, lever, promener
  • acquérir > acquerr-   similar verbs: conquérir, s'enquérir
  • appeler > appeller-   similar verbs: épeler, rappeler, renouveler
  • aller > ir-
  • avoir > aur-
  • courir > courr-   similar verbs: concourir, discourir, parcourir
  • devoir > devr-
  • envoyer > enverr-
  • essayer > essaier-   similar verbs: balayer, effrayer, payer
  • essuyer > essuier-   similar verbs: appuyer, ennuyer
  • être > ser-
  • faire > fer-
  • falloir > faudr-
  • jeter > jetter-   similar verbs: feuilleter, hoqueter, projeter, rejeter
  • nettoyer > nettoier-   similar verbs: employer, noyer, tutoyer
  • pleuvoir > pleuvr-
  • pouvoir > pourr-
  • savoir > saur-
  • tenir > tiendr-   similar verbs: maintenir, obtenir, soutenir
  • valoir > vaudr-
  • venir > viendr-   similar verbs: devenir, parvenir, revenir
  • voir > verr-   similar verb: revoir
  • vouloir > voudr-

French Future Conjugations

To conjugate a verb ending in -er or -ir in the future tense, add the appropriate endings to the infinitive. For verbs ending in -re, remove the final -e and then add the future endings. For irregular verbs, add the endings to the irregular future stem.

Here are the future conjugations for the regular verbs parler (to speak), finir (to finish), and vendre (to sell), and the irregular verb aller (to go):

 
Pronoun Future ending parler > parler- finir > finir- vendre > vendr- aller > ir-
je -ai parlerai finirai vendrai irai
tu -as parleras finiras vendras iras
il -a parlera finira vendra ira
nous -ons parlerons finirons vendrons irons
vous -ez parlerez finirez vendrez irez
ils -ont parleront finiront vendront iront