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Future and Conditional Tenses in Italian

In its current form the Italian future tense is not a direct legacy of classical Latin, in which the future was [capital letters mark the stressed vowel]:
  • I Conjugation [amAre]: amabo, amabis, amabit, amabimus, amabitis, amabunt
  • II Conjugation [monEre]: monebo, monebis, monebit, monebimus, monebitis, monebunt
  • III Conjugation [lEgere]: legam, leges, leget, legemus, legetis, legent
  • IV Conjugation [audIre]: audiam, audies, audiet, audiemus, audietis, audient

With time and linguistic changes, the ancient Latin future fell into disuse, because it came to resemble the imperfect too much (Latin amabam--> Italian amavo). Therefore it was gradually replaced by a phrase formed of the infinite of the verb, plus the conjugated forms of have; over time, the two words merged into a single word both in Italian and other Romance languages. Originally, the meaning of these phrases with "have" was modal (in Latin amare habeo meant 'I have to love'); actually, the Italian future can be used as a command.
  • Italian language: amare + ho--> io amerò; amare + hai--> tu amerai; amare + ha --> egli amerà.
  • French language: aimer + ai --> j'aimerai, etc
  • Spanish language: amar + he --> yo amaré, etc
  • Portuguese language: amar + hei --> eu amarei, etc

Use of the Future Tense in Italian

very often, especially when there is a future time expression [e.g. domani, tomorrow], the present can be used. Example: I'll leave (I'm leaving, will be leaving) next month. --> Parto il mese prossimo (instead of: partirò)
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The Conjugations of regular verbs: Future Tense

Three model verbs appear in the table below; in block letters are the endings [-rÒ, -rAi, -rÀ, -rEmo, -rEte, -rAnno]; before the "r" of the ending the first [infinitive -are] and second [infinitive -ere] have an "e", the third [infinitive -ire] has an "i". Pay attention to the change in the stressed syllable: a CAPITAL vowel shows the stressed syllable [In Italian, the accent is generally written only on stressed vowels at the end of a non-monosyllabic word -there are exceptions of course].
1st conj. -are
io amerÒ
tu amerAi
egli amerÀ
noi amerEmo
voi amerEte
essi amerAnno
2nd conj. -ere
io scriverÒ
tu scriverAi
egli scriverÀ
noi scriverEmo
voi scriverEte
essi scriverAnno
3rd conj. -ire
io dormirÒ
tu dormirAi
egli dormirÀ
noi dormirEmo
voi dormirEte
essi dormirAnno

    Try to say these verbs in the future following the declensions above (the CAPITAL vowel show the stressed syllable).
  • verbs in -are: lavorAre (work), comprAre (buy), studiAre (study), viaggiAre (travel), lavAre (wash), guidAre (drive), camminAre (walk)
  • verbs in -ere: scrIvere (write), vEndere (sell), lEggere (read), prEndere (take), chiUdere (shut), pErdere (lose), spEndere (spend)
  • verbs in -ire: dormIre (sleep), partIre (leave), sentIre (feel, hear), seguIre (follow), aprIre (open), vestIre (dress), finIre (finish), capIre (understand)


Variations: the "e" in the II conjugation
  • In some verbs of the II conjugation (-ere) the "e" before the suffix disappears, but only if in the infinitive form it is stressed, as for the verb avEre: avrò, avrai, avrà, avremo, avrete, avranno. The reasons for this phonological change are simple: the "e" is located in the immediate vicinity of a stressed syllable and is therefore weakened. Other common elision instances are: cadEre--> cadrÒ, dovEre--> dovrÒ, potEre--> potrÒ, sapEre--> saprÒ, vedEre--> vedrÒ
  • On the contrary, the "e" does not disappear when it is not stressed in the infinitive: prEndere--> prenderÒ, vEndere--> venderÒ, lEggere--> leggerÒ, scrIvere--> scriverÒ, muOvere--> muoverÒ
  • An exception to the above rule is vIvere -->vivrÒ

Other Miscellaneous Variations
  • andare --> andrÒ
  • venire --> verrÒ, rimanere--> rimarrÒ, bere--> berrÒ volere--> vorrÒ, tenere--> terrÒ
  • essere--> sarÒ, sarai, sarÀ, saremo, sarete, saranno
  • fare--> farÒ, sare--> darÒ, stare--> starÒ
  • Verbs with infinitive ending in -care and -gare insert an "h" after "c" and "g" to maintain the hard sound of the "c" and "g". Example: cercare--> cercherÒ, allargare--> allargherÒ
  • Verbs with infinitive ending in -ciare oppure -giare omit the "i": cominciare--> comincerÒ


Present Conditional

All the rules outlined above apply automatically to the formation of the present conditional, which is distinguished from the future just for the endings: -rEi, -rEsti, -rEbbe, -rEmmo, -rEste, -rEbbero.

Historically, the conditional was formed from the fusion of the infinitive with the Latin simple past of the verb habere: cantare habuit --> cantar ebbe --> canterebbe

In other Romance languages (French, Spanish) and in a number of Italian dialects the conditional originated from the infinitive and the Latin imperfect. That is why we find in Tuscan, for example, avrìa, dovrìa instead of avrebbe, dovrebbe.
1st conj. -are
io amerEi
tu amerEsti
egli amerEbbe
noi amerEmmo
voi amerEste
essi amerEbbero
2nd conj. -are
io scriverEi
tu scriverEsti
egli scriverEbbe
noi scriverEmmo
voi scriverEste
essi scriverEbbero
3rd conj. -are
io dormirEi
tu dormirEsti
egli dormirEbbe
noi dormirEmmo
voi dormirEste
essi dormirEbbero