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Le futur proche: An easy guide to “going to” in French

Celine Segueg

Le futur proche is a tense that you’ll come across in everyday French discussions about future plans. Le futur proche is known in English as the near future tense, while it’s also sometimes called le futur immédiat in French. It’s sometimes mistakenly spelled by combining the English and French names as “le future proche.”

Le futur proche is one of the most common ways to talk about the future in French, especially in spoken conversation. It’s actually easier than the simple future tense in French, which we cover in our other post on le futur simple.

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In English, we see the near future tense appear in the form of going to phrases, and it’s exactly the same in French.

  • I’m going to pay a visit to my grandma. – Je vais rendre visite à ma grand-mère.
  • You’re going to learn Spanish.  – Tu vas apprendre l’espagnol.

In this post we’ll explore how to use le futur proche, and we’ll see the situations where you can expect to see it. Let’s jump straight in!

How to use le futur proche

We mentioned above that in English, you use the phrase going to when using le futur proche. Luckily, it’s exactly the same in French!

In fact, le futur proche is not technically a tense at all, but rather a sentence structure that allows us to simply talk about the future.

Le futur proche French sentence structure uses a conjugated form of the verb aller, meaning to go, followed by an infinitive. Aller is conjugated in the present tense to create the futur proche structure.

How to conjugate aller

As an irregular verb, aller doesn’t follow the normal patterns of French verb conjugation, meaning there’s no way to escape learning this one off by heart. However, part of what makes le futur proche such an easy tense to use is that you only need to learn the present tense conjugation of aller to put it into practice.

Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the different present tense aller conjugations in the table below.

I am going, I go Je vais
You are going, You go Tu vas
He/She/It is going, He/She/It goes Il/Elle va
We’re going, We go Nous allons
You are going, You go Vous allez
They are going, They go Ils vont

 

As we said, once you’ve learned how to conjugate aller, including any other tenses of aller, using le futur proche is simple. All you need to do is choose the conjugation of aller that you want to use, and follow it with another verb in the infinitive form.

Remember, infinitives are the basic, unconjugated forms of verbs. In English, they always begin with “to,” such as “to walk,” “to sleep,” or “to like.” Although French infinitives are a little trickier to spot, as they’re just one word that usually ends in -er, -ir, or -re, the principle remains the same. They’re simply the unconjugated base form of a verb.

Let’s look at an example of this le futur proche French sentence structure of aller + infinitive in action.

  • I’m going to read a book. – Je vais lire un livre.
  • He’s going to play football. – Il va jouer au foot.
  • They’re going to stay at the hotel. – Ils vont rester à l’hôtel.

Using le futur proche in the negative form

Do you want to say that you aren’t going to be doing something? That’s also easy to do in le futur proche. Simply add ne before your conjugated form of aller and pas directly after.

  • She’s not going to go to the party. – Elle ne va pas aller à la fête.
  • You’re not going to cook tonight. – Tu ne vas pas cuisiner ce soir.

When to use le futur proche

Le futur proche is a very common way of talking about the future in French, but as its name suggests, it’s usually used when talking about the near future as opposed to the distant future. Let’s see when to use le futur proche in French.

Immediate future

Our primary use of le futur proche is for talking about actions that are happening in the near future in French. If you’re talking about something you’re going to do in the next few minutes, hours, or even days, you’ll likely want to use le futur proche.

  • I’m going to go to the library. – Je vais aller à la bibliothèque.
  • We’re going to watch a film tonight. – Nous allons regarder un film ce soir.

Making plans

Le futur proche can also be used more fluidly to describe actions that you’re planning on taking at some point in the future. You can use it for plans that you’re not sure will go ahead, but that you’re going to try to do. In these scenarios, we can look beyond the immediate future and include plans that might be a year or more away or without a specified time frame.

  • I’m going to get a new job. – Je vais trouver un nouvel emploi.
  • He’s going to learn Spanish. – Il va apprendre l’espagnol.

Conclusion

There you have it! Le futur proche is one of the simplest ways to talk about the future in French. With just the straightforward formula of aller + infinitive, it’s much easier to wrap your head around than the slightly trickier futur simple tense.

Now that you know how to use le futur proche French structure, you’re going to be able to make plans in French like a pro! – vous allez pouvoir faire des plans comme un pro !

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