The future tense in Croatian

The future tense in Croatian

Of all the Croatian tenses, which are normally quite complex, first future tense ( ) is probably the simplest one.

Even though it is a compound tense - which means it involves two verbs, the main verb and an auxiliary verb - it's really straightforward.

A second future tense ( ) also exists but is only used in hypothetical future situations (future conditionals), as will be explained in one of our next posts.

Verbs in the future tense

To make the futur prvi, it is enough to learn the forms of the auxiliary verb (to want), as the main verb is always used in the infinitive.

The verb htjeti has both a long, stressed form ( ) and a short, unstressed form ( ). The stressed form of the verb htjeti is used to form yes / no questions.


To form the future tense, the unstressed form of the verb is used:

PersonPronounVerb form PersonPronounVerb form
1st/Sing ja ću   1st/Plur mi ćemo
2nd/Sing ti ćeš   2nd/Plur Vi/vi ćete
3rd/Sing on/ona/ono će   3rd/Plur oni/one/ona će
             

How is the future tense formed?

Future tense (futur prvi) = auxiliary verb (pomoćni glagol) htjeti + main verb (glavni glagol) in infinitive

Examples:

- to eat → - I will eat.
- to sing → - You will sing.
- to go → - She will go.
- to come → - They will come.

What if the subject is omitted?

In the Croatian language, if the subject is clear from the context, it is generally possible to omit it from the sentence.

When omitting the pronoun in a declarative sentence in the future tense, the main verb always comes before the auxiliary. You might already be familiar with this pattern if you know how to make Croatian past tense.

Examples:

Ona će ići. – She will go.
Oni će doći. – They will come.

When we apply the same rule to verbs that end in -ti, they lose their final -i.

Examples:

Ja ću jesti. - I will eat. → (*NOT: Jesti ću.)
Ti ćeš pjevati. - You will sing. → (*NOT: Pjevati ćeš)

On the other hand, verbs ending in -ći, never change in the future tense.

Forming negative sentences

To form negative sentences, the prefix ne- is added to the corresponding form of the verb htjeti to create a negative form of this verb.

Examples:

Ja ću jesti. - I will eat. → - I will not eat.
Ti ćeš pjevati. - You will sing. → - You will not sing.
Ona će ići. - She will go. → - She will not go.
Oni će doći. - They will come. → - They will not come.

Asking questions about the future

a) To ask yes/no questions about the future, the stressed form of the verb htjeti (to want) should be used, together with the word “li”:

PersonPronounVerb form PersonPronounVerb form
1st/Sing ja hoću   1st/Plur mi hoćemo
2nd/Sing ti hoćeš   2nd/Plur Vi/vi hoćete
3rd/Sing on/ona/ono hoće   3rd/Plur oni/one/ona hoće
             

Ja ću jesti. - I will eat. → – Will I eat?
Ti ćeš pjevati. - You will sing. → – Will you sing?
Ona će ići. - She will go. → – Will she go?
Oni će doći. - They will come. → – Will they come?


b) With all other questions, the question word comes first, the unstressed form of the word htjeti (to want) comes second and “li” is not used.

Ja ću jesti. - I will eat. → - What will I eat?
Ti ćeš pjevati. - You will sing. → - Why will you sing?
Ona će ići. - She will go. → - When will she go?
Oni će doći. - They will come. → - How will they come?

As in many other languages, it’s very common to express future actions in Croatian with the present tense as well, e.g.

- I´m coming tomorrow
→ instead of
- I will come tomorrow.

Exercise: How would you say the following in the future tense?

I’ll go to the shop. Answer Ići ću u trgovinu.

What will you buy? Answer Što ćeš kupiti?

Where will she sleep tomorrow? Answer Gdje će sutra (ona) spavati?

We’ll play football on Saturday. Answer Igrat ćemo nogomet u nedjelju.

Where will they meet? Answer Gdje će se (oni) naći?

Will you come next week? Answer Hoćeš li doći sljedeći tjedan?

She’ll watch TV in the evening. Answer Ona će gledati TV navečer.

They’ll work all day. Answer Oni će raditi cijeli dan.

Next year he’ll run a marathon. Answer Sljedeće godine će (on) trčati maraton.

She’ll celebrate my birthday with my husband. Answer Slavit će rođendan s mojim mužem.

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