The sequence of tenses when the main verb is in the future tense in French

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The sequence of tenses when the main verb is in the future tense

Rules about the sequence of tenses (la concordance des temps) apply to sentences containing two verbs. When the main verb (in the main clause) is in a future tense (futur simple or futur proche) the other verb (in the subordinate clause) goes by the following rules:

•  for actions which happen prior to the main action, we use:
- past tenses
Tu penseras à ce que je t’ai dit ? futur → passé composé Will you think about what I told you?
- the present tense when referring to the current situation
Ils récolteront demain ce que nous plantons aujourd’hui. futur → présent They will reap tomorrow what we are planting now.
- the futur antérieur for a future event which will take place before the main action. Note that, unlike in English, French uses a future tense after quand (whereas ‘will’ is not normally used after ‘when’ in English.)
Victor reviendra quand il aura terminé son livre futur → futur antérieur Victor will come back when he has finished his book (= first he will finish his book then he will come back).
•  for two simultaneous actions we use:
- the future. Note: as we saw earlier, unlike in French, ‘will’ is not normally used after ‘when’ in English.
Tu parleras français quand tu seras en France. futur → futur You will speak French when you are in France.
- the present tense for general truths or in sentences which use si.
Je leur dirai que je suis une amie de Victor. futur → présent I will tell them I am a friend of Victor’s.
J’irai te chercher si tu m’appelles. I will pick you up if you call me. (=I will pick up when you call me)
•  for an action happening after the main one we use:
- the futur simple or futur proche
Ce soir je t’expliquerai pourquoi je vais travailler à Paris. futur → futur proche This evening I will tell you why I will be working in Paris.
- the conditionnel présent for something that might happen
Je prendrai mon manteau au cas où il ferait froid. futur → conditionnel présent I will take my coat in case it is cold.


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