As lockdown measures begin to ease in Italy and across much of the world, we are all starting to break out of the live-in-the-moment constricts of quarantine to savor the novelty of talking about the future, be it concrete plans or pie-in-the-sky dreams.
In Italian, there are two verb tenses that can be used to discuss the future: the simple future and the present conditional. The first covers discussions about a certain future - plans, projects, schedules - and the second is used to indicate an uncertain future - dreams, hopes, aspirations.
Whatever the rest of this unforgettable year may bring, here’s how to discuss it in Italian:
The Certain Future
One of the biggest takeaways from COVID-19 is the uncertainty of the future, but for grammar’s sake, let’s presume that there are some cases in which we can be fairly certain of future events, including upcoming plans, projects, and schedules.
To indicate an event or action that will certainly take place in the future, the best tense to use in Italian is the simple future. Luckily, this tense is one of the most straightforward in Italian, easy to construct and to use...perhaps encouraging us all to go ahead and take the plunge into looking ahead!
So, have you pulled the trigger on that plane ticket? Here’s how to talk about an upcoming trip, for example:
● A settembre, partirò per l’Italia. - In September, I will leave for Italy.
● Quando partirai per il tuo viaggio in Italia? - When will you leave for your trip to Italy?
● Non appena potrà, mia madre partirà per le vacanze. - As soon as she can, my mother will leave on vacation.
● Partiremo per le ferie sotto Natale. - We will leave on holiday at Christmastime.
● Cominciata l’estate, partirete per il mare? - When summer begins, will you (all) leave for the beach?
● Dicono che poche persone partiranno in viaggio prima dell’autunno. - They say that few people will leave on a trip before autumn.
If future plans include more long-lasting projects, you can still lend your conversation an air of conviction with the simple future:
● Entro il 2020, mi laureerò. - By the end of 2020, I will graduate.
● Quest’estate, mio fratello imparerà a cucinare. - This summer, my brother will learn to cook.
● Compreremo casa quando avremo risparmiato abbastanza. - We will buy a house when we have enough saved.
Have a schedule to keep? Here’s how to talk about it:
● Ci sveglieremo alle 8, faremo colazione per le 9, e a mezzogiorno visiteremo Pompei. - We will get up at 8, have breakfast at 9, and visit Pompeii at noon.
The Uncertain Future
With weeks - if not months - of time holed up in our homes, there has been plenty of time to take stock and think about the bigger questions: life goals, aspirations, and dreams. To indicate an event or action that may or may not take place in the future, the best tense to use in Italian is the present conditional. This tense is a bit more complicated to construct and use, but what are future ambitions if not complicated!
Here’s how to daydream, plot, and manifest into the future:
● A settembre, partirei volentieri per l’Italia. - In September, I would happily leave for Italy.
● Preferiresti viaggiare con il treno o con la bici in Toscana? - Would you prefer to travel by train or bike in Tuscany?
● Mio marito vorrebbe tanto imparare a dipingere quando andrà in pensione. - My husband would love to learn to paint when he retires.
● Io e la mia amica fuggiremmo subito al mare se ci fosse posto in spiaggia. - My friend and I would escape to the seaside right now if there was room on the beach.
● Fareste una vacanza in Europa quest’anno? - Would you (all) vacation in Europe this year?
● Sarebbero felici di comperare casa, ma ancora dovranno risparmiare. - They would be happy to buy a house, but they still need to save.
Whether you have firm plans or loosey-goosey dreams, have fun talking about what’s in your future in Italian!