Future and Conditional Tenses in French

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:

Infinitive form – Future Stem/Conditional Stem

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.) 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.) 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.

Examples:

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 post has helped you understand how to form the future and conditional tenses in French. If you have any questions or wish to book French lessons with me, feel free to get in contact. (To see more information about my language tuition services, please click here).

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