The Future Perfect Tense in Italian

How to Use Il Futuro Anteriore in Italian

Tourists entering Corso Umberto, the main street in Taormina at sunset
Tourists entering Corso Umberto, the main street in Taormina at sunset. Matthew Williams-Ellis / robertharding / Getty Images

“In two years, I will have learned Italian.”

How do you express a sentence like that in Italian? You use a tense called il futuro anteriore, or the future perfect tense in English.

You’ll notice that it looks similar to the il futuro semplice, the simple future tense, but has an extra addition.

Here’s what that sentence above will look like: Fra due anni, sarò riuscito/a ad imparare l’italiano.

If you’re familiar with the future tense, you’ll notice the “sarò”, which is the first person conjugation of the verb “essere - to be”.

Immediately after, you’ll see another verbriuscire - to succeed at/to be able to” in a past participle form.

(If you’re not sure a past participle is, take a look at this article. It’s basically just the form a verb changes to when you need to talk about something that happened in the past. Other examples you might recognize are “mangiato” for the verb “mangiare” and “vissuto” for the verb “vivere”.)

I’ll give you a few examples first and then we’ll break down how you can start forming and using the futuro anteriore.

Esempi:

  • Alle sette avremo già mangiato. - By seven we'll already have eaten.

  • Noi avremo parlato al padre di Anna. - We will already have spoken to Anna's father.

  • Marco non è venuto alla festa, sarà stato molto impegnato. - Marco didn’t come to the party, he must have been very busy.

When to Use It

Typically you’ll use this verb tense when you’re talking about an action in the future (like you having already eaten) before something else happens (like it being 7 PM).

You can also use it when you’re unsure about something that’s happening in the future or that happened in the past, like you thinking that the reason Marco didn’t come to the party was because he was busy. In this case, other words that you could use instead of forming the futuro anteriore would be “forse - maybe”, magari - maybe” or “probabilmente - probably”.

You can see more examples of this usage here.

How to Form the Futuro Anteriore

As you saw above, the futuro anteriore is created when you combine a future tense conjugation (like sarò) with a past participle (like riuscito), which makes it a compound tense. To be more specific though (and easier on you), there are only two verbs that you can use in the future tense conjugation spot, and they are the auxiliary verbs avere or essere.


Take a look at the two tables below that show you the future tense conjugations for the verbs “essere - to be” and “avere - to have”.

Essere - To be

Sarò - I will beSaremo - We will be
Sarai - You will beSarete - You all will be
Sarà - He/she/it will beSaranno - They will be

 

Avere - To Have

Avrò - I will haveAvremo - We will have

Avrai - You will have

Avrete - You all will have
Avrà - He/she/it will haveAvranno - They will have

 

How do you choose between “essere” and “avere”?

When you’re deciding which auxiliary verb to use -- either “essere” or “avere” -- you use the same logic as you would when you’re choosing “essere” or “avere” with the passato prossimo tense. So, as a quick reminder, reflexive verbs, like "sedersi - to sit oneself", and most verbs that are related to mobility, like “andare - to go”, “uscire - to go out”, or “partire - to leave”, will be paired with “essere”.

Most other verbs, like “mangiare - to eat”, “usare - to use”, and “vedere - to look”, will be paired with “avere”. You can read more about choosing which verb to use with tenses like this here.

Andare - To go

Sarò andato/a - I will have goneSaremo andati/e - We will have gone
Sarai andato/a - You will have goneSarete andati/e - You (all) will have gone
Sarà andato/a - He/she/it will have goneSaranno andati/e - They will have gone

 

Mangiare - To eat

Avrò mangiato - I will have eaten

Avremo mangiato - We will have eaten

Avrai mangiato - You will have eaten

Avrete mangiato - You (all) will have eaten

Avrà mangiato - He/she/it will have eaten

Avranno mangiato - They will have eaten

 

Esempi:

  • Quando avrò finito questo piatto, verrò da te. - When I will have finished this dish, I will go to your place.

  • Sarai stata felicissima quando hai ottenuto la promozione! - You must have been/I imagine you were happy when you got the promotion!

  • Appena avrò guardato questo film, te lo darò. - As soon as I have watched this movie, I will give it to you.

  • Riuscirai a parlare l’italiano fluentemente quando avrai fatto molta pratica. - You will succeed at speaking Italian fluently when you will have practiced it a lot.

  • Appena ci saremo sposati, compreremo una casa. - As soon as we are married, we will buy a house.