Future Perfect in Italian: Grammar Lesson

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Key Takeaways

Dive into the Italian “futuro anteriore,” the tense that’s all about nailing timing in conversations! Learn how to express actions completed before future events and spice up your Italian with a sophisticated twist.

  • Definition and Use: The future perfect (futuro anteriore) describes actions that will be completed before another future event.
  • Structure: Formed by combining the future simple of auxiliary verbs (essere or avere) with the past participle of the main verb.
  • Example: “Quando avrai finito di lavare i piatti, potrai uscire.” (When you have finished washing the dishes, you can go out.)
  • Conjugation: Examples of conjugation with both essere and avere include “Io avrò mangiato” (I will have eaten) and “Io sarò partito/a” (I will have left).
  • Agreement: When using essere, the past participle must agree in number and gender with the subject.
  • Additional Uses: Also used to make assumptions or hypotheses about present or past events, similar to “must have” in English.

Quick facts

What distinguishes futuro anteriore from futuro semplice in Italian?

Futuro anteriore describes a future action completed before another future event, while futuro semplice indicates a straightforward future action.

How is the futuro anteriore formed in Italian?

It combines an auxiliary verb (essere or avere) in the future simple tense with the past participle of the main verb.

Which auxiliary verbs are used in futuro anteriore?

"Essere" and "avere" are used, with transitive verbs taking "avere" and intransitive verbs taking "essere."

How do past participles change with auxiliary "essere"?

They agree in number and gender with the subject, unlike with "avere."

How are regular past participles formed in Italian?

By removing the infinitive ending and adding -ato (ARE), -uto (ERE), or -ito (IRE).

Can futuro anteriore be used to make hypotheses?

Yes, it can suggest past events that likely occurred, similar to "must have" in English.

What does "si saranno persi" imply in a sentence?

It implies a hypothesis that "they must have gotten lost," indicating uncertainty about a past event.

How can futuro anteriore indicate probability?

By suggesting a likely past scenario, such as "That car must have cost him a fortune."

Can futuro anteriore be used without two actions?

Yes, it can indicate a single future action completed by a specific time, like "I will have arrived in Rome by tomorrow."

What is an example of futuro anteriore indicating a completed future action?

"Alle 7 noi avremo finito di lavorare" means "By 7, we will have finished working."

My Thoughts

Future Perfect in Italian

In Italian there are two future tenses: futuro semplice (simple future) and futuro anteriore (future perfect), also known as futuro composto.

Futuro anteriore, which I will explain in this lesson, is used to describe future actions that will have been completed before another future event takes place.

Quando avrai finito di lavare i piatti, potrai uscire.

When you have finished washing the dishes, you can go out.

As you can see in the example above, the action of washing the dishes is conjugated in the futuro anteriore,because it describes an event that is expected to happen before a time of reference in the future.

The action of going out is, instead, conjugated in the futuro semplice because it is the future event taken as point of reference.

As all complex verbs, the future perfect in Italian is formed by an auxiliary verb (essere or avere) conjugated in the future simple + past participle.

Italian Futuro Anteriore

Structure

Let me show you the conjugation of two Italian verbs so that you can see its structure with both auxiliary verbs.

Remember: the choice of the auxiliary depends on whether the verb is transitive or intransitive. The former takes avere, the latter takes essere.

Mangiare (with avere)

to eat

Andare (with essere)

to go

Io avrò mangiato Io sarò partito/a
Tu avrai mangiato Tu sarai partito/a
Lui/Lei avrà mangiato Lui/Lei sarà partito/a
Noi avremo mangiato Noi saremo partiti/e
Voi avrete mangiato Voi sarete partiti/e
Loro avranno mangiato Loro saranno partiti/e

As you might know already, when you use the verb essere (to be) as an auxiliary, the past participle of the verb must agree in number and gender with the subject performing the action.

Regular past participles are very easy to form. Just get rid of the ending of the infinitive form and add the past participle ending:

  • Verbs ending in ARE use ATO: mangi + are à mangi + ato = mangiato (to eat – eaten)
  • Verbs ending in ERE use UTO: cred + ere à cred + uto = creduto (to believe – believed)
  • Verbs ending in IRE use ITO: fin + ire à fin + ito = finito (to finish – finished)

Irregular past participles are a bit more tricky, so arm yourself with patience and learn them by heart!

Uses

As I mentioned before, we mainly use futuro composto to talk about future events that will be finished before something else will take place.

However, in Italian we can also use the future to make assumptions, hypotheses, and probabilistic thoughts about something that happens either in the present or has happened in the past. Of course, we use respectively the simple future and future perfect to do so.

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The English equivalent for this use would be “must have”.

Let me show you some examples:

Non sono ancora arrivati? Si saranno persi!

They haven’t arrived yet? They must have gotten lost.

Perché Marco è tornato indietro? Non so, si sarà dimenticato qualcosa.

Why did Marco come back? I don’t know; he must have forgotten something.

Bella macchina! Probabilmente l’hai pagata molto. = L’avrai pagata molto.

Nice car! You must have paid it a lot.

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

Speak Your Future

Now that you’ve learned the structure of the Italian future perfect, you are ready to move in time when telling your stories in Italian.

Learning new verb tenses gives you the freedom to detach from the here and now to talk about events and actions that occur in different moments.

Practice its conjugation, its different uses, and get ready to tell what you will be doing and have done in the future. In no time, “avrai imparato tutto” (you will have learned everything!).

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions

What is future perfect in Italian?

The future perfect tense in Italian is all about talking about an action or state that will be completed before another event in the future.

What is future semplice in Italian?

In Italian, the "futuro semplice" is used to express an action that will take place in the future. Additionally, the future tense is also utilized to express supposition, likelihood, and approximation.

How do you form the future anterior in Italian?

The Italian futuro anteriore is formed using either the auxiliary verb 'essere' or 'avere' conjugated in the future simple plus the past participle.

Italian word of the day
persona
Example
Mi piace Silvio. Sia come politico che come persona.
I like Silvio. Both as a politician and as a person.
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