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After one month, I found I was already able to say a lot in Italian, but I lamented that it was all in the present tense! Last week, we started to fix that by learning il passato prossimo, the most common way to form the past tense in Italian. Now, it's probably time to learn how to use the future tense. As always, everything is easy to find on Google.

Il futuro semplice

The simple future tense is easy to form in Italian. As with everything, you start by dropping the verb's ending, and then adding the future ending. There is one form for -are and -ere verbs, and a second form for -ire verbs.

For -are and -ere verbs, the simple future endings are -erò, -erai, -erà, -eremo, -erete, and -eranno. So, for instance, to form the future tense of parlare, you have:

1st personparleròparleremo
2nd personparleraiparlerete
3rd personparleràparleranno

For -ire verbs, the simple future endings are -irò, -irai, -irà, -iremo, -irete, and -iranno. Thus, to form the future tense of partire, you have:

1st personpartiròpartiremo
2nd personpartiraipartirete
3rd personpartiràpartiranno

Look at it in a different way

That's already not so difficult, but let's look at it in a different way to highlight just how easy it is. When I look at those conjugations above, I see the same endings we already learned for present tense verbs — they just have an extra syllable.

So in reality, the secret to forming the il futuro semplice is just to create a stress shift by adding a syllable to the end of the verb stem. The stress shift happens automatically though the normal rules of pronunciation. The 1st person and 3rd person singular forms also require adding the stress to the final syllable, no doubt to differentiate them from nouns which might have the same endings.

When learning a new language, it is important to learn the grammar rules and learn the proper way to form words. But there is a detail which is inherent in all natural speakers, that often gets lost in the process of learning a foreign language — understanding why.

Knowing the grammatical rules of dropping an ending and adding another are important, but they're too complicated for fluent speech. Understanding a stress shift, however, is easy to use and comes naturally with a little practice. And knowing both, of course, helps to weave the web of knowledge that makes everything easier!



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