If you want to talk about plans in the future in French, you’ll need to know how to use le futur simple. This French future tense is the same as the one you use in English when you make will statements.
Le futur simple is mostly used to talk about plans, intentions, and occasionally, predictions about the future. You’ll also need it as part of a conditional sentence structure, which we’ll take a look at later on in the post.
We’ll start the post off by discussing how to form le futur simple before exploring how and when we use it. Let’s jump in by looking at how to conjugate the regular verb forms of le futur simple in French!
Le futur simple conjugation
Let’s take a look at how to form this future tense in French.
First, you’ll need to start with an infinitive. Remember, the French infinitive is the base form of the verb before it gets conjugated to a subject. Whereas in English they always start with “to,” as in “to walk” or “to eat,” in French the infinitive is a single word which ends in ‑er, ‑ir, or ‑re. For more on this verb form, check out our dedicated post on French infinitives.
Once you’ve chosen the infinitive you want to use in the French future tense, you simply add the right ending to it depending on the subject. That’s right: for most regular verbs in French, the futur simple stem is the same as the infinitive!
These are the futur simple tense endings:
|Subject||Futur simple ending|
|il, elle, on||-a|
Let’s see this applied to the most common verb forms through some typical verbs for each type. To see how this looks in practice, we’ll apply these endings to three examples which cover the three main verb families: -er, -ir, and -re verbs.
As our example of a regular -er verb, we’ll use the verb manger. Remember, all we need to do is take the infinitive manger and add the endings from above.
|Subject||Manger future simple conjugation|
|il, elle, on||mangera|
Here you can see that the future simple French form is just one word, unlike in English where the equivalent relies on both will + infinitive.
Now let’s look at a regular -ir verb. You’ll see it follows the same pattern as above, of just adding the endings to the original infinitive. We’ll use finir as our example verb.
|Subject||Finir futur simple conjugation|
|il, elle, on||finira|
So far this futur simple conjugation has been pretty straightforward, since for regular -er and -ir verbs we just add the ending straight to the infinitive. For regular -re verbs, there’s a little twist: we first need to remove that final e before adding our new ending.
Let’s look at attendre to see this in practice.
|Subject||Attendre futur simple conjugation|
|il, elle, on||attendra|
Of course, there are exceptions to these straightforward rules when it comes to many French irregular verbs. The good news is that the endings are always the same. The futur simple French stem is often unique though, so for irregular verbs you’ll need to memorize the stem rather than always being able to just use the infinitive.
While we won’t delve into irregular verb conjugations in this post, just be aware that there are several irregular verb forms in le futur simple which don’t follow the patterns we’ve seen above (including the usual suspects of avoir and être!).
When to use le futur simple
Now that you know how to form the future tense in French, let’s take a look at when you’d want to use it.
As you can see, le futur simple is the same as the will + infinitive future tense in English, and we use it in similar situations. If we’re talking about our future plans, events, or intentions, making predictions about the future, or using a conditional sentence, we’ll want to use le futur simple in French. Let’s see each of these in turn.
The most obvious time to use le futur simple is when you’re talking about future plans or events, whether near or far in advance. Other than that, this usage of le futur simple is as simple as it sounds!
- Tomorrow, I will visit the museum. – Demain, je visiterai le musée.
- Next summer, we will build a pool. – L’été prochain, nous construirons une piscine.
Predictions about the future
It might sound strange, but you can also use le futur simple in French to predict the future! You’ll use this when you’re talking about things in the future that you’re pretty confident will happen, but there’s no guarantee. As with future plans, this is very similar to English, so there’s not a lot to wrap our heads around here.
- You will finish this project by Friday. – Vous finirez ce projet avant vendredi.
- She plays well. She will win this weekend. – Elle joue bien. Elle gagnera ce week-end.
Note that there’s another way to talk about the future in French which can also often be used in these two contexts of future plans and predictions about the future, which essentially translates as going to rather than will. Check out our related post on le futur proche for more details on using that construction for talking about the future in French.
Conditional clauses are a slightly trickier grammar concept, but as they’re one of the most common ways you’ll hear le futur simple being used, they’re worth learning.
A conditional sentence is built around an if statement, where we talk about something that is very likely to happen in the future if something else happens. The two parts of the sentence are called clauses, with one relying on the other. This may sound complicated, but you probably use conditional clauses every day without even noticing!
In English, you call these if/then sentences: if one thing happens, then something else will happen. You’ll see that the combination is the present tense is used within the ‘if’ clause, and the simple future tense in the ‘then’ clause. In French, we use this in an almost identical way, although we don’t need to explicitly use the word then like you generally do in English.
- If you do your homework, then I will play with you after. – Si tu fais tes devoirs, je jouerai avec toi.
- If we miss the bus, then we will walk. – Si nous ratons le bus, nous marcherons.
Note that it doesn’t matter which way around the clauses appear. The present tense will remain in the if or si clause, and the future tense before or after.
- He will cook dinner if we buy the ingredients. – Il cuisinera le dîner si nous achetons les ingrédients.
- She will wait for us if we are late. – Elle nous attendra si nous sommes en retard.
In this post we’ve explored futur simple French. We started by looking at how to conjugate le futur simple, with a straightforward list of endings added to the verbs’ infinitives. Then we covered the different situations where we use le futur simple, complete with plenty of examples to get you comfortable with it.
Of course, le futur simple isn’t the only way to talk about the future in French: for talking about the immediate future we usually opt for le futur proche. Finally, to see an overview of all the French tenses, we’ll leave you with a link to our big post on French verb conjugation.