italian-future-tense

(You Will) Master the Italian Future Tenses with This Guide!

The future may be brighter than you realize.

By the time you’ve gotten to an upper-level beginner or intermediate level in Italian, you’ve suffered a lot of grammatical trauma.

You’ve likely had run-ins with the present tense and its many irregularities, the present continuous, commands and past tenses.

Not to mention those infernal prepositions.

Now, it’s time for a bit of a breather.

The simple future tense is generally a much more pleasant experience as most Italian learners approach it after the subjects I just mentioned (strongly recommended!) and, compared to those, both its use and its conjugations tend to be much more straightforward.

Italians also tend to use it a lot, even more than we use our “will” or “going to” in English to talk about the future.

So this is something that you will want to learn well, and if you do so it will stick, as long as you take the opportunity to practice in regular conversations or when watching videos and the like.

As I said, you should already have some experience with the Italian grammar subjects above before approaching this, and I assume as much for this article.

But if you are in the very early stages of your Italian adventure you may still enjoy and benefit from reading this, as it will help you recognize the future tenses when you see or hear them (then you can come back and study them more carefully later).

Most of this post will focus on the Italian simple future, but at the end of this piece I will cover the future perfect (a “will-have-done” sort of tense), which is more of an esoteric subject and can easily be skipped for now by those who don’t feel ready.

Often learners approach the simple future tense just before learning the conditional, which has the same stems. The actual use of the conditional is often more complex, however, so I would suggest saving that until later, when you are already very comfortable with the simple future tense.

In any case, if you learn your simple future tense formations well, they will help you enormously in your Italian language abilities.

Breathe! The Relaxing Guide to the Italian Future Tenses

Out guide below will make sure you never get flustered by the future tense again! But if you want more context or some additional help, we recommend that you watch the authentic videos on FluentU.

FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. It’s an excellent way to see grammar concepts in use by actual native Italian speakers!

Learn a foreign language with videos

Formation of the Regular Italian Simple Future Tense

There are only two regular future simple tense formations to learn, fortunately, as the regular infinitives ending with are and ere get the same treatment.

Let’s take the example of the verb parlare (to speak) in the simple future. The –are ending is taken off and the following bolded endings are added:

io parlerò — I will speak

tu parlerai — you (singular, informal) will speak

lui / lei / Lei parlerà — he / she / you (singular, formal) will speak

noi parleremo — we will speak

voi parlerete — you (plural) will speak

loro parleranno — they will speak

The same will happen with –ere verbs. Take as an example prendere (to take): prenderò (I will take), prenderai (you will take), etc.

Note especially that the future endings for both –are and –ere verbs begin with an e. It is never io parlarò.

For -are verbs, there are some spelling changes to worry about, but they are the same as you have likely seen with Italian spelling rules for other tenses. The idea is simply to ensure that the pronunciation of the last consonant stays constant.

  • Verbs ending in –ciare and –giare drop the i before adding the simple future endings. This helps maintain the sounds of the ci (like the “ch” in “check”) or gi (the “j” in “judge). So cominciare (to begin) becomes io comincerò, tu comincerai, lui comincerà, etc. (I will begin, you will begin, he will begin, etc.)
  • Verbs ending in –care and –gare must have an h added to the end of the stem before adding simple future endings. This keeps the c sounding like a “k” and the g sounding like the “g” in “guess.” This means that legare (to tie) is conjugated io legherò, tu legherai, lui legherà, etc. (I will tie, you will tie, he will tie, etc.)

Now let’s move on to verbs whose infinitives end in ire. Remember the two groups of -ire verbs that you learned in the present tense? Forget about those groupings for now, as they are both the same in the simple future tense (that is, there is no inserted –isc– in certain conjugations).

We will take fuggire (to escape, to run away) as our example. We take off the –ire ending and add the following simple future endings (note that they are the same as above except for their first letter).

io fuggirò — I will escape

tu fuggirai — you (singular, informal) will escape

lui / lei / Lei fuggirà — he / she /you (singular, formal) will escape

noi fuggiremo — we will escape

voi fuggirete — you (plural) will escape

loro fuggiranno — they will escape

You can save yourself some time when memorizing these by realizing that the –ire conjugations above are actually the same as the first set of conjugations we saw (for –are and –ere verbs), with only the change of the initial e in the ending to an i.

And that’s all there is to forming the simple future verb conjugations in Italian! The future is nowhere near as difficult as the present or past, huh?

Verbs That Are Irregular in the Italian Simple Future Tense

Hold tight for a moment, though—as usual, there are a few irregularities. But even these aren’t so bad when dealing with the future tense. And you will notice that the tail end of the endings (from the r onwards) is the same for each subject even with these irregular future tense conjugations.

In fact, many verbs are irregular simply for the fact that they eliminate the vowel before that r in the ending. Otherwise they add the same future endings for each subject that we have already seen. For example, here’s how the future tense is formed for these very common verbs:

  • Andare (to go): io andrò, tu andrai, lui andrà, etc.
  • Avere (to have): io avrò …
  • Cadere (to fall): io cadrò …
  • Dare (to give): io darò …
  • Dovere (to have to, must): io dovrò …
  • Fare (to make, to do): io farò …
  • Potere (to be able to): io potrò …
  • Sapere (to know): io saprò …
  • Stare (to be): io starò …
  • Vedere (to see): io vedrò …
  • Vivere (to live): io vivrò …

If you have studied the present continuous or other such tenses you know that Italian contracted infinitives tend to get shortened and mangled a bit, and the same happens with these verbs here. Often this means a double r, which should be heavily pronounced. Otherwise the endings remain the same across all subjects.

  • Bere (to drink): io berrò, tu berrai, lui berrà, etc.
  • Condurre (to drive): io condurrò …
  • Tenere (to hold, to keep): io terrò …
  • Venire (to come): io verrò …
  • Volere (to want): io vorrò …

Finally, let’s look at the cranky oddball that is essere (to be), and its conjugations:

io sarò — I will be

tu sarai — you (singular, informal) will be

lui / lei / Lei sarà — he / she / you (singular, formal) will be

noi sarà — we will be

voi sarete — you (plural) will be

loro saranno — they will be

These are the main irregular verbs that most learners will need to worry about—the future simple tense is mostly pretty regular. And for particularities of irregular Italian verb conjugations, WordReference has an excellent conjugator.

Uses of the Italian Simple Future Tense

At its most basic, the Italian simple future tense is used to talk about what will happen in the future. Unlike in English, it doesn’t matter if it is far in the future or close, and unlike some other languages Italian doesn’t care if we are talking about a speculative or definite future. Everything can take the Italian simple future tense.

Here are a variety of examples with different regular and irregular verbs and in different contexts, with the future simple tense in bold.

Farà freddo. Indosseremo delle felpe. (It is going to be cold. We are going to wear sweatshirts.)

Loro dormiranno tutto il pomeriggio. (They are going to sleep all afternoon.)

Sono sicurissimo che sarà un viaggio divertente. (I am extremely sure that it will be a fun trip.)

Raffaella sarà la punta di diamante della scuola di ballo. (Raffaella is going to be the star dancer of the dance school.)

Fingerò di essere irraggiungibile. (I will pretend to unattainable.)

L’indipendenza non strazierà Catalonia. (Independence will not tear apart Catalonia.)

Io terrò un comportamento impeccabile. (I will behave impeccably.)

Domani vedrai che sono goffo quando ballo. (Tomorrow you will see that I am clumsy when I dance.)

Sarà il suo compleanno. (It will be her birthday.)

Note that unlike the following example in English (and in many other Romance languages, interestingly), both parts of a good Italian future sentence can be in the future tense:

Rifiuterò il formaggio quando saró a Napoli. (I will turn down cheese when I am in Naples.)

Fino a venerdì mattina non sapremo con certezza se potremo volare. (Until Friday morning we won’t know for sure if we can fly.)

The future tense is also often used to talk about speculation. For example, as is perhaps becoming obvious from certain examples, I’ve got a future trip to Naples on my mind to visit my darling, wayward Raffaella. And if I actually get there, and she is nowhere to be found, I can still keep using the future tense but now with a speculative (non-future) meaning:

Dove sarà? (Where could she be?)

I’m wondering in this case where the heck she is right now, not asking where she will be at some point in the future.

If I’m unrealistic, I can ask myself if she has been unjustly detained:

Forse sarà alla stazione di polizia. (Perhaps she is at the police station.)

And if I’m smarter I can speculate:

Sarà che Raffaella non mi ama? (Perhaps it’s just that Raffaella doesn’t love me?)

Finally, the future tense in Italian can also be used to boss people around.

Farai tutto quello che ti dico, va bene? (You’ll do what I say, alright?)

As usual, it is best to study this tense and its uses just within the context of speaking Italian and think only about what the tense enables you to do in the Italian world. You don’t want to look for a correspondence with any particular tense or structure in English. In English we do all kinds of other, non-futuristic and strange things with the word “will,” for example, “people will always comply if given direct orders.” And to make matters worse, we also have many other ways to suggest the future. (“On Friday I go to Naples.”) So:

  • Don’t think of the Italian future simple as having a one-to-one correspondence with the English constructions “will” or “going to.”
  • Be glad you’re studying Italian instead of the weird mess that is English grammar!

Formation of the Italian Future Perfect Tense

The other future tense to worry about in Italian is the future perfect. It is not difficult to form if you have studied the past tense (remember me scolding you to do that first at the beginning of this article?).

As with the passato prossimo (present perfect), you will use past participles preceded by conjugations of avere or essere—but this time those helper verbs will be in the future simple tense. Choose the same helper verb as you would for the passato prossimo, depending on the main verb.

Here is an example with avere as a helper:

io avrò parlato — I will have spoken

tu avrai parlato — you (singular, informal) will have spoken

lui / lei / Lei avrà parlato — he / she / you (singular, formal) will have spoken

noi avremo parlato — we will have spoken

voi avrete parlato — you (plural) will have spoken

loro avranno parlato — they will have spoken

And here is an example with essere:

io sarò andato / andata — I will have gone

tu sarai andato / andata — you (singular, informal) will have gone

lui / lei / Lei sarà andato / andata — he / she / you (singular, formal) will have gone

noi sarà andati / andate — we will have gone

voi sarete andati / andate — you (plural) will have gone

loro saranno andati / andate — they will have gone

You will notice that the past participle (e.g., andato/a/i/e) is modified just as it would be in the passato prossimo.

Uses of the Italian Future Perfect Tense

The Italian future perfect is used to talk about what will have happened at a point in the future.

For example, if I’m stuck in dreary Germany this week, but have a Friday overnight train ticket for Naples, I can wax dreamily about my weekend:

Il sabato mattina sarò già arrivato a Napoli. (On Saturday morning I will have already arrived in Naples.)

This is pretty straightforward, but the tense is also used in ways that might seem a bit stranger to English speakers. It can be used, for example, to speculate about past things:

Avrà cambiato idea. (Perhaps he changed his mind.)

Note that there is no intent to talk about the future in that case. The way to say this in Italian without the future perfect is: Forse ha cambiato idea.

Similarly I could use it to speculate about my deluded or dense Neapolitan darling who somehow manages to misunderstand my perfect Italian WhatsApp missives about where and when to meet:

Scrivo tanto bene in italiano, ma Raffaella non avrà imparato a leggere? (I write in perfect Italian, but Raffaella perhaps hasn’t learned to read?)

While the future perfect tense is part of standard Italian, I mentioned earlier that it is a bit esoteric, and that is because most Italians tend to use other workarounds to avoid using it, especially in conversation. One such common alternative is dopo + past infinitive:

Ti chiamerò dopo aver verificato che ci sono posti. (I will call you once I have verified that there are two seats available.)

 

Looking to read more about the future tenses? There is a great chapter in the textbook “Soluzioni” by Denise de Rome. And if you want to test your conjugation abilities, try this test of the future simple tense and this of the future perfect.

And then, of course, you can practice writing and speaking about your own future—and what better future is there to talk about than one where you’re in Italy?

Talking about future Italian adventures (whether truly planned or conjured from the ether for the purpose of practice) will put you in the frame of mind to use the constructions and vocabulary that you will also actually make use of when you’re there, and it’s a great way to make studying a verb tense a lot more fun.


Mose Hayward travels Europe while blogging out tips for the best ways to do so—including hacks for the legendary booking problems with Italian trains

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