Le futur antérieur: the future perfect in French

What is the futur antérieur?

Le futur antérieur corresponds to the English future perfect tense. We use the futur antérieur to talk about a future action that will have happened by a certain time in the future. This tense also expresses predictions or suppositions about what may have happened in the past. We form the futur antérieur using the futur simple form of avoir or être as an auxiliary, followed by the passé participe (past participle) of the main verb.

Learn everything you need to know about the futur antérieur in French grammar with Lingolia’s quick and easy examples, then put your knowledge to the test in the exercises.

Example

  • Pourquoi est-ce que Xavier répare son vélo?
  • Il sera certainement tombé. Ou bien il aura peut-être eu une panne.
  • Oh non, nous voulons faire un tour à vélo dans une heure.
  • Pas de panique! D’ici là il aura réparé son vélo.
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When to use the futur antérieur in French

We use the futur antéreiur in the following cases:

  • to make a supposition about an action in the past
    Example:
    Il sera certainement tombé.He’ll probably have had an accident.
    Ou bien il aura peut-être eu une panne.Or perhaps he had a breakdown.
  • to make a supposition that an action will have been completed by a specified point in the future (here we always need a specific time indicator to make it clear that the sentence is referring to the future)
    Example:
    D’ici là il aura réparé son vélo.By then he will have repaired his bike.

How to conjugate the futur antérieur in French

To conjugate the futur antérieur we use the futur simple form of avoir or être as an auxiliary, followed by the past participle of the main verb.

Person avoir Participle être Participle
1st person singular (I) j’aurai

aimé

fini

vendu

je serai

parti

partie

partis

parties

2nd person singular (you) tu auras tu seras
3rd person singular (he/she/it) il/elle/on aura il/elle/on sera
1st person plural (we) nous aurons nous serons
2nd person plural (you) vous aurez vous serez
3rd person plural (they) ils/elles auront ils/elles seront

In negative sentences, the past participle comes after the second part of the negation (pas).

Example:
J’aurai rigolé. → Je n’aurai pas rigolé.I’ll have laughed.→ I won’t have laughed.
Je serai parti.→ Je ne serai pas parti. I’ll have left.→ I won’t have left.

For reflexive verbs, the reflexive pronoun and the auxiliary verb come after the first part of the negation (ne) and before the past participle.

Example:
Je ne me serai pas trompé dans mon calcul.I won’t have miscalculated.

Avoir or être

Most verbs construct the futur antérieur with the help verb avoir. The auxiliary verb être is used in the following cases:

  • with 14 verbs of motion and staying still: naître/mourirto be born/to die, aller/venirto go/to come, monter/descendreto go up/to go down, arriver/partirto arrive/to leave, entrer/sortirto enter/to go out, apparaîtreto appear, resterto stay, retournerto return, tomberto fall and their related forms such as: revenirto come back, rentrerto go back in, remonterto go back up, redescendreto go back down, repartirto leave again.
    Example:
    Je serai parti en vacances.I’ll have gone on holiday.
  • with reflexive verbs
    Example:
    Je me serai trompé dans mon calcul.I’ll have miscalculated.

Info

We use avoir when descendre, (r)entrer, (re)monter, rentrer, retourner and sortir are followed by a direct object. In this case, the meaning of the verb often changes.

Example:
À quelle heure seras-tu sorti ? What time will you have left?
but: Auras-tu sorti les carottes du frigo ? Will you have taken the carrots out of the fridge?

Participe passé: the past participle

For regular verbs that end in -er/-ir/-re, the participe passé is easy to construct:

  • If the infinitive ends in -er, the participle ends in é
    Example:
    aimer – aimé
  • If the infinitive ends in -ir, the participle ends in i
    Example:
    finir – fini
  • If the infinitive ends in -re, the participle ends in u
    Example:
    vendre - vendu

For the irregular verbs, however, we have to look up their participle forms in the list of irregular verbs, or check the verb conjugator — or simply learn them by heart.

Agreement of the participe passé

For certain verbs, the participe passé has to agree in gender and number with either the subject or the object of the sentence. This agreement is necessary in the following cases:

  • When a verb takes être as a help verb, the participle agrees in gender and number with the subject.
    Example:
    Il sera allé à l’école en vélo.He’ll have gone to school by bike.
    Elle sera allée à l’école en vélo.She’ll have gone to school by bike.
    Ils seront allés à l’école en vélo.They’ll have gone to school by bike.
    Elles seront allées à l’école en vélo.They’ll (only girls) have gone to school by bike.
  • For verbs that take avoir in the futur antérieur, the participle only agrees in gender and number with a direct object that comes before the verb. This direct object can take three possible forms: a personal pronoun (me, te, le, la, nous, vous, les), the relative pronoun que, or a noun that comes before the verb (usually in questions and exclamations).
    Example:
    Il aura réparé son vélo. → Il l’aura réparé.He’ll have repaired his bike.
    Il aura réparé sa roue. → Il l’aura réparée.He’ll have repaired his wheel.
    Il aura réparé ses freins. → Ils les aura réparés.He’ll have repaired his brakes.
    Il aura réparé ses lampes. → Il les aura réparées.He’ll have repaired his lights.
  • In the case of reflexive verbs (which always take être as their auxiliary in the futur antérieur), the participle generally agrees with the subject.
    Example:
    Nous nous serons levés trop tard.We will have got up too late.

    The exception to this rule concerns direct objects: the participle does not agree if the reflexive verb is followed by a direct object.

    Example:
    Elle se sera lavé les mains.She will have washed her hands. (elle se sera lavé quoi? → les mains)
    but: Elle se sera lavée.She will have washed herself.

    Remember: the participe passé never agrees with an indirect object.

    Example:
    Marie et Laurent se seront téléphoné.Marie and Laurent will have called each other on the phone.
    se = indirect object (téléphoner à qui?)
  • The participe passé does not agree with the subject of the follwing verbs: se téléphonerto phone each other, se parlerto talk to each other, se mentirto lie to each other, se plaire (complaire/déplaire)to like each other, se sourire{{info::to smile at each other}}, se rireto laugh at each other, se nuireto hurt each other, se succéderto succeed each other, se suffireto be enough, se ressemblerto look like each other, s’en vouloirto be annoyed with each other. This is because the reflexive pronoun is an indirect object. It is used in the sense of “each other” for these verbs.

se rendre compte

Although it is reflexive, the participle of the verb se rendre compte (to realise) does not agree with the subject of the sentence. This is because the word compte acts as a direct object (se rendre quoi? → compte).

Example:
Elle se sera rendu compte de son erreur.She will have realised her mistake.