Croatian Future Tenses

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Welcome to our Croatian course for beginners! We continue to discuss grammar in this article, focusing on a very important aspect.

When we talk talk about our plans or something that may happen or will happen in the future, we have to use language forms and phrases that indicate that the event has not yet occurred or is planned. So, let`s try to understand how to describe events in the Future tenses in Croatian.

Let`s start with the theory. In Croatian, there are two future tenses: Future 1 and Future 2. These tenses are complex, meaning they are both formed using auxiliary verbs "to be" and "to want" (if you forgot, be sure to review them again, because we described in detail how these verbs are conjugated.) Now, we`ll talk about each of these tenses separately.

Future 1

This is the most commonly used future tense in Croatian, also known as the future independent tense. It indicates an action that will happen or will occur in the future. It is formed in two ways:
a) The short form of the present tense of the verb "htjeti" + the infinitive form of the main verb.
b) The infinitive form of the main verb without the "-i" at the end + the short form of the present tense of the verb "htjeti."

It is interesting that in method "a," the Future tense form cannot be at the beginning of a sentence; neither the verb "htjeti" nor the infinitive can be the first word in a sentence. In method "b," the infinitive is, in fact, the first word of the sentence. In writing, only the last letter "-i" is dropped from the infinitive, and in spoken language, even the penultimate letter is often omitted, making it practically inaudible. Here are examples for clarity:
a) Ja ću gledati film - I will watch a movie
b) Gledat ću film - I will watch a movie

So, despite the literal translation being "I want to watch...," native speakers understand it as "I will watch." It`s a bit unusual, but that`s how it is.

Another important detail: in Croatian, there are verbs ending in "-ći." They are special, as we mentioned earlier. Consequently, they form the Future tense differently: such verbs in the infinitive form never have a short future tense form:
a) Ja ću ići do kući - I will go home
b) Ići ću do kući - I will go home

So, once again, two important nuances of the Future 1 tense: it uses the auxiliary verb "htjeti," and there is a short form of the future tense where the infinitive comes first in the main or subordinate clause and loses its last letter in writing (in spoken language, the last two letters are dropped).

In the case of negation, the verb "htjeti" is preceded by the particle "ne," which excludes the use of the short form. Examples:
(Ja) Ne ću ići do kući - I will not go home
(Ja) Ne ću gledati film - I will not watch the movie

Here are all the short and full forms of Future 1 in affirmative and negative sentences with the verb "gledati" (to watch):
Ja ću gledati / Gledat ću (I will watch) - Ne ću gledati (I will not watch)
Ti ćeš gledati / Gledat ćeš (You will watch) - Ne ćeš gledati (You will not watch)
On / Ona / Ono će gledati / Gledat će (He / She / It will watch) - Ne će gledati (He / She / It will not watch)
Mi ćemo gledati / Gledat ćemo (We will watch) - Ne ćemo gledati (We will not watch)
Vi ćete gledati / Gledat ćete (You will watch) - Ne ćete gledati (You will not watch)
Oni / One / Ona će gledati / Gledat će (They will watch) - Ne će gledati (They will not watch)

In a question, depending on its structure, the full form of the auxiliary verb may be used. Also, for a clear and unequivocal answer, the short form is not allowed, only the full form is used:
Hoćeš li gledati s nama film (Will you watch the movie with us)?
Hoću! (I will!)

Remember that this is the most commonly used future tense in Croatian, and despite its peculiarities, it`s essential to know.

Future 2

This tense differs from Future 1 in that it indicates an event preceding the future. In other words, it`s some event that will occur before something else happens in the future. It is used in subordinate clauses. For example:
Ispričat ću ti sve kad budemo sami - I will tell you everything when we are alone
Ako bude radio, javit će mu - If it works, he will let him know

So, Future 2 represents either a condition that must be met or an event that happens before the main event in the future. If the sentence is simple, Future 1 is used instead of Future 2. Additionally, it`s considered good practice not to use Future 1 twice in a complex sentence in both the main and subordinate clauses, but instead to use Future 2 or a verb in the present tense.

The formation of Future 2 is very similar to the formation of the Past tense in Croatian. The only difference is that the verb "biti" (to be) in Future 2 is in its perfect form (budem, budeš, etc.), plus the past participle of the imperfective verb (we explained this form in detail in the lesson on the past tense). The formula for forming Future 2 looks like this:
Perfect form of the verb "biti" + the word stem of the main verb + ending -o (Masculine) / -la (Feminine) / -lo (Neuter) / -li (Masculine or Neuter and Feminine) / -le (Only for Feminine)

Negation is formed by adding "ne" before the forms of "biti." To make it perfectly clear, let`s look at all the affirmative and negative forms of Future 2 for the verb "raditi" (to work):
Budem radio / radila (I will work) - Ne budem radio / radila (I will not work)
Budeš radio / radila (You will work) - Ne budeš radio / radila (You will not work)
Bude radio / radila (He / She / It will work) - Ne bude radio / radila (He / She / It will not work)
Budemo radili / radile (We will work) - Ne budemo radili / radile (We will not work)
Budete radili / radile (You will work) - Ne budete radili / radile (You will not work)
Budu radili / radile (They will work) - Ne budu radili / radile (They will not work)

To sum up: in a complex sentence, if you need to express a condition or a time relationship, Future 2 is used in the subordinate part of the sentence.

That`s it, our lesson is concluded. The Future tenses are very important for anyone learning the Croatian language, so we recommend understanding future tenses well before moving on to the next topic in our Croatian course for beginners. Good luck with your studies!