Thursday, July 2, 2015

The French Future Tense

 Above are pictures of my French Collection

In French, the future tenses include the simple future (le futur simple), the future perfect (le futur anterieur) and the near future (le futur proche). According to Eliane Kurbegov (French Grammar Drills, 2007:179), "The near future is used to talk about what is going to happen. Similarly the simple future talks about what will happen. Both tenses refer to future events. However, the near future is more frequently used in familiar conversation while the simple future is more formal. The future perfect, found less frequently in familiar conversation, is used to say that something will be done by the time something else happens."

The Simple Future (le futur simple)
The simple future expresses an action or a state that will take place after we speak. As the action or state has not happened yet, it is only more or less probable. To distinguish the simple future from the near future, let's say the near future expresses a fact that will take place more probably than the simple future (Jean Severy, Essential French Grammar, 2008:174).

In English, the simple future consists of will or shall + verb. In French, the simple future has no auxiliary, it consists of one word only. The future stem of regular -er and -ir verbs is the entire infinitive. Regular -re verbs drop the final -e of the infinitive before adding on the endings. The future endings are -ai, -as, -a, -ons, -ez, -ont. For example:

travailler (to work)
je travaillerai (I will work), tu travailleras, il/elle/on travaillera, nous travaillerons, vous travaillerez, ils/elles travailleront

finir (to finish)
je finirai (I will finish), tu finiras, il/elle/on finira, nous finirons, vous finirez, ils/elles finiront

perdre (to lose)
je perdrai (I will lose), tu perdras, il/elle/on perdra, nous perdrons, vous perdrez, ils/elles perdront

Where the irregular verbs are concerned, many have regular stems, that is, the entire infinitive or (with -re ending verbs) the infinitive minus final -e. For example:

boire (to drink) ------ je boirai
croire (to believe) ------ je croirai
dormir (to sleep) ------ je dormirai
lire (to read) ------ je lirai
ouvrir (to open) ------ j'ouvrirai
partir (to leave) ------ je partirai

However, there are also irregular verbs with irregular stems:

aller (to go) ------ j'irai
envoyer (to send) ------ j'enverrai
falloir (to be necessary) ------ il faudra
recevoir (to receive) ------ je recevrai
venir (to come) ------ je viendrai
vouloir (to want) ------ je voudrai

The Future Perfect (le futur anterieur)
Whereas the simple future describes an action or situation which will be taking place at some time in the future, the future perfect refers to an action which is seen as completed by or at a specific time in the future. In English, the future perfect consists of will have or shall have + past participle. In French, the future perfect consists of the simple future of avoir or etre + past participle. For example:

aller (to go)
je serai alle(e), (I will have gone), tu seras alle(e), il/on sera alle, elle sera allee, nous serons alle(e)s, vous serez alle(e)(s), ils seront alles, elles seront allees

devenir (to become)
je serai devenu(e), (I'll have become), tu seras devenu(e), il/elle/on sera devenu(e), nous serons devenu(e)s, vous serez devenu(e)(s), ils/elles seront devenu(e)s

It should be noted that the past participle of verbs conjugated with etre should agree in gender and number with the subject.

The Near Future
The futur proche implies the action will be completed soon, while the simple future is open-ended as to completion of the action. Thus, if you ask for a book at the library desk, the librarian's response would normally be in the futur proche as follows: Je vais chercher votre livre (I'll get your book). Were the librarian to respond with the simple future tense, Je chercherai votre livre, you would be left wondering how long you might have to wait.

In English, the near future consists of to be going to + infinitive. In French, the near future consists of the present tense of aller + infinitive. For example:

Je vais essayer (I am going to try)
Il va faire froid dehors (It's going to be cold outside).

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