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Il 2010 è vicino ed è tempo di pensare ai propositi per l’anno nuovo (2010 is near and it’s time to think about our resolutions for the new year). When we were children sitting around the table eating lunch on new year’s day, my mother used to ask me and my brothers: “Avete fatto i buoni propositi per l’anno nuovo?” (have you made your good resolutions for the new year?). Each of us would then recite to her our buoni propositi, which would inevitably be: metterò in ordine la mia camera (I’ll tidy up my bedroom); non bisticcerò con i miei fratelli (I won’t argue with my brothers and sisters); farò i compiti prima di andare a giocare (I’ll do my home work before going out to play); aiuterò la mamma con i lavori di casa (I’ll help mummy with the house work). Of course we all failed miserably within a few hours.
So, in order to help you write your list of buoni propositi per l’anno nuovo I’m going to explain how to use il futuro (the future tense).
In English the future tense is built by putting will or shall in front of the verb. In Italian however, as with all the other tenses, we change the verb endings.
To make the future tense of regular verbs:
For regular verbs ending in –are: take away the suffix –are and add the following endings: –erò, –erai, –erà, –eremo, –erete, –eranno. For example, the future of the verb parlare (to talk) is:
io parlerò (I will talk), tu parlerai (you will talk, informal), lui/lei parlerà (he/she will talk; you will talk, formal), noi parleremo (we will talk), voi parlerete (you will talk, plural), loro parleranno (they will talk).
For regular verbs in –ere and –ire take away the last two letters –re and add the following endings: –rò, –rai, –rà, –remo, –rete, –ranno. For example, the future of the verb leggere (to read) is:
io leggerò (I will read), tu leggerai (you will read, informal), lui/lei leggerà (he/she will read; you will read, formal), noi leggeremo (we will read), voi leggerete (you will read, plural), loro leggeranno (they will read).
The future of the verb finire (to finish, to end) is:
io finirò (I will finish), tu finirai (you will finish, informal), lui/lei finirà (he/she will finish; you will finish, formal), noi finiremo (we will finish), voi finirete (you will finish, plural), loro finiranno (they will finish).
The future tense is used:
To talk about something that will happen or will become true in the future, e.g. a Pasqua andremo a Venezia (at Easter we’ll go to Venice).
After quando (when), in cases where ‘when’ is followed by the present tense in English, e.g. quando smetterà di piovere andrò a fare la spesa (when it stops raining I’ll go shopping literally: when it will stop raining).
When we guess something, or express a doubt or an uncertainty, e.g. hanno suonato alla porta, sarà Giovanni? (Someone’s rung the doorbell, could it be Giovanni? literally: will it be Giovanni?), Sarà vero quello che ha detto Giulio? (Could what Giulio said be true? literally: will it be true what Giulio said?).
However, in spoken Italian we normally use the present tense to say what we are about to do, or what we will do in the near future, e.g. Giovanni: Hai una matita? Francesca: Sì, tela passo (Giovanni: ‘Do you have a pencil?’ Francesca: ‘Yes, I’ll pass it to you’, literally: I pass it to you), domani parto per Roma (‘tomorrow I’m leaving for Roma literally: ‘tomorrow I leave for Roma’), ti telefono più tardi (‘I’ll phone you later’ literally: ‘I phone you later’).
To return to our propositi per l’anno nuovo, bear in mind that in order to express a commitment or decision we use the present tense instead of the future, e.g. prendo un cappuccino (I’ll have a cappuccino literally: I take a cappuccino), pago io (I’ll pay, literally: I pay), So… since we traditionally use the future tense when expressing i propositi per l’anno nuovo, this probably indicates that we might not be one hundred per cent committed to our ‘resolutions’. Perhaps that’s why we fail so miserably!
In my next blog I will give you a list of the main irregular verbs in the future tense.
Un mio proposito: nel 2010 cucinerò più torte per mio marito!