Studying French Verbs: Le Futur Antérieur


If you’ve studied French verbs for a while, you probably know about le présent, le passé composé, l’imparfait, et le futur. You may also know something about reflexive verbs and verbs of motion, and their particularities in the passé composé. You may even be familiar with le passé simple.

What happens, though, when you want to describe an action that hasn’t happened yet, but that will be complete before a particular action or time in the future? In English, we use the future perfect tense to describe this. For example:

1) I will have done my homework by the time I go to sleep.
2) The construction will be finished before school starts.
3) They will have left for the concert before my friend arrives.

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In French, the equivalent tense is the futur antérieur, or the anterior future. Like the future perfect in English, it defines a particular point in time in the future and looks back towards (but not past) the present. The sentences above would, using the futur antérieur, translate to:

1) J’aurai fait mes devoirs avant que je m’endors.
2) La construction sera fini avant la rentrée.
3) Ils seront partis pour le concert avant que mon ami arrive.

The construction of this tense is very similar to the passé composé. In the futur antérieur, there are the same two parts: The auxiliary verb (avoir or être) and the past participle.

Choose the auxiliary verb in the same way as you would for the passé composé. It will usually be avoir, unless the main verb is a verb of motion or a reflexive verb. In those cases, use être. Now instead of conjugating the auxiliary verb in the present tense, conjugate it into the future. Here is a review of their future forms:

avoir être
j’ aurai je serai
tu auras tu seras
il / elle / on aura il / elle / on sera
nous aurons nous serons
vous aurez vous serez
ils / elles auront ils / elles seront

Now form the past participle in the same way you would for passé composé. Remember to check for gender and number agreement if the auxiliary verb is être. Then put the two together, and you have the futur antérieur. Look back at the examples above in French to see if you can recognize how the verb was formed. Then look at the examples below:

1) Tu auras assisté au concert quand j’arrive.
2) En août, je serai restée a San Francisco depuis cinq ans.
3) Ils auront rendu leurs livres à la bibliotèque avant la fin de l’année.


Now try a few of your own.

1) Elle _________________ (marcher) cinq kilometres tous les jours cette semaine.
She will have walked five kilometers every day this week.
2) Quand nous arrivons, ils _________________ (cuisiner) un repas delicious.
When we arrive, they will have cooked a delicious meal.
3) Apres nous vacances cet été, nous _________________ (aller) en cinq pays différents.
After our vacation this summer, we will have gone to five different countries.
4) Tu _________________ (se laver) avant 8h si tu veux partir a l’heure.
You will have washed yourself before 8am if you want to leave on time.

Now check your answers :

1) aura marché
2) auront cuisiné
3) serons allé(e)s
(Use the extra “e” only if you are imagining a group with all girls.)
4) te seras lavé(e)
(Like #3, use the extra “e” only if you imagine you are speaking to a girl in this sentence.)

If your passé composé and future tenses are solid, hopefully this wasn’t too difficult. If you did well on the first two but missed #3 or #4, consider also whether or not this was due to a need to review verbs of motion or reflexive verbs. If you are doing well, now that you have an introduction, try using the passé antérieur as you speak and write with your friends, classmates, and colleagues.

For more help studying French verbs, work with a one-on-one tutor. French tutors are available to work with you for live online lessons, or in your home depending on location and availability. Search for your tutor now!


CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She has her Masters in French language education from the Sorbonne University in Paris and has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Carol Beth here!



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