French Future and Conditional Tenses

How to say ‘will’ and ‘would’ in French

These notes will help you to form the future and conditional tenses in French. Essentially:

  • The conditional tense is when you use the word ‘would’ in English (e.g. I would go, he would see, etc.)
  • The future tense is when you use the word ‘will’ or ‘shall’ in English (e.g. I will go, you would see, etc.)

Stage One: Form the stem

The stem for both the future and the conditional tenses is the same. For all regular verbs you form the stem as follows:

  • Parler (to speak/to talk) – Parler (for -er verbs use the infinitive)
  • Prendre (to take) – Prendr (for –re verbs take off the final e)
  • Dormir (to sleep) – Dormir (for –ir verbs use the infinitive)

Future Tense

We use the future tense when we want to say that we will/shall do something in the future.

Stage two for future tense: Add the ending

The future tense is formed by taking the stem (e.g. parler, prendr, dormir, etc.), discussed above, and adding the appropriate endings as follows:

  • Je -ai
  • Tu -as
  • Il/Elle -a
  • Nous -ons
  • Vous -ez
  • Ils/Elles -ont

Examples:

  • Je parlerai = I will talk
  • Tu dormiras = You will sleep
  • Il prendra = He will talk

Conditional Tense

[Note: We use the conditional tense when we want to say that we would do something].

Stage two for conditional tense: Add the ending

The conditional tense is formed by taking the stem (e.g. parler, prendr, dormir, etc.), discussed earlier, and adding the appropriate endings as follows:

  • Je -ais
  • Tu -ais
  • Il/Elle -ait
  • Nous -ions
  • Vous -iez
  • Ils/Elles -aient

Examples:

  • Je parlerais = I would talk
  • Tu dormirais = You would sleep
  • Il prendrait = He would take

Irregular stems for the conditional & future tenses

As the conditional and future tense stems are the same, it is hopefully unsurprising that they also share the same irregular stems. Unfortunately there are a number of irregular stems for forming the future and conditional tenses. The most useful irregular stems are as follows:

  • Aller (to go) – Ir
  • Avoir (to have) – Aur
  • Devoir (to have to) – Devr
  • Envoyer (to send) – Enverr
  • Être (to be) – Ser
  • Faire (to do/make) – Fer
  • Falloir (to be necessary) – Faudr
  • Mourrir (to die) – Mourr
  • Pleuvoir (to rain) – Pleuvr
  • Pouvoir (to be able) – Pourr
  • Recevoir (to receive) – Recevr
  • Savoir (to know) – Saur
  • Tenir (to hold) – Tiendr
  • Venir (to come) – Viendr
  • Voir (to see) – Verr
  • Vouloir (to want) – Voudr

Although there are irregular stems, the endings in the conditional and future tenses are never irregular. The endings are the same as for verbs with regular stems. Some examples are as follows:

  • Je serais = I would be
  • Je serai = I will be
  • Tu ferais = You would make
  • Tu feras = You will make
  • Il verrait = He would see
  • Il verra = He will see

I hope that the above has helped you to understand how to form the future and conditional tenses in French. If you have any questions or wish to book Online French sessions with me (starting at £12 for 30 minutes), feel free to contact me (a link to my Contact Page is on the menu above).

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