Understanding Verb Tenses in French: Futur Proche vs. Futur Simple
Learning a new language can sometimes be confusing, especially when we talk about verb tenses. Like in our previous post explaining the difference between passé composé and imparfait, today we are going to go over another of the most common grammar confusions French learners do, and that is, understanding the difference between the “futur proche” and “futur simple”.
General Rule: Understand the Intention
Before knowing which grammatical tense to use, you must understand the intention of the actions inside the sentence. What do we want to say? What do we wish to express?
Futur proche is often used when there is a high level of certitude that an event or action will happen. The event or action will happen immediately or when the timing of the event is known.
When using the future proche, you must use the conjugated form of the verb aller + infinitive verb of the action. For example:
- Je vais aller au restaurant.
If we decompose the sentence, you will notice the use of futur proche: Je + vais (conjugated form of aller) + aller (infinitive verb) + au restaurant.
When the time of the event is known, you also use futur proche. For example:
- Je vais partir en septembre.
In the example above, the month of September clearly indicates the time when this person will leave.
Some other expressions that indicate time in the future are:
- Aujourd’hui (today)
- Cette semaine (this week)
- Ce mois-ci (this month)
- Cette année (this year)
- Demain (tomorrow)
- La semaine prochaine (next week)
- Le mois prochain (next month)
- L’année prochaine (next year)
We use futur simple to predict events or actions that will happen in the future. Futur simple is built from the infinitive form and adding a specific ending. For example, for the verb parler:
- Je parler-ai
- Tu parler-as
- Il parler-a
- Nous parler-ons
- Vous parler-ez
- Ils parler-ont
Using Both Future Tenses in French
It is possible to use both the futur simple and futur proche in a sentence when you need to indicate a change that is coming or to indicate the consequences of an action or event. For example:
- Je vais partir et je vous enverrai mon téléphone.
To decompose the sentence: Je + vais partir (futur proche) + et je vous + enverrai (futur simple) + mon téléphone.
The fact that the person will leave is certain but, we do not have a time or idea of when he will send his telephone number.
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