Future tense

In Russian the future tense has two forms: the imperfective future and the perfective future. These are often referred to as the compound and simple future forms respectively. The two future forms decline differently and have different meanings, per their aspect:

More on verb aspect in Russian here.

Imperfective future

The imperfective future describes continuous or repeated action: “What will you be doing?”

Also called the compound future form, the imperfective future is easy to construct. Just add the auxillary verb “быть” – “to be” and the imperfective infinitive of your verb. For example, to say “I will read,” you simply say “Я буду читать.”

Here are some examples of the imperfective future tense in action:

  • Я буду вас ждать там. = I will be waiting for you there.
  • Летом мы будем жить в деревне. = We are going to live in the country this summer (We will be living).
  • Я буду учиться зимой. = I will study in the winter (I will be studying).
  • Я буду спать в гостиной. = I will sleep in the living room.
  • Он будет нас ждать в кафе. = Не will wait for us in the café.
  • Где вы будете ужинать? = Where will you have supper?
  • Что вы будете пить? = What will you drink?
  • Ну, мы не будем просить вас. = Well, we won’t ask you.
  • Я ему ничего не буду говорить. = I won’t say anything to him.
  • Я буду вам писать из Москвы. = I will write (be writing) you from Moscow.

    Perfective future

    The perfective future describes single and completed action: ”What will you do?”

    Also called the simple future form, the perfective future is formed by declining verbs in the perfective aspect. These declensions look like the imperfective present tense, but they’re not. There is no present tense in the perfective aspect. Instead this tense is the simple future. For example, to say “I will read” in the perfective aspect, you simply say “Я прочитаю.”

    Here are some examples of the perfective future tense in action:

    • Я напишу ему. = I will write to him.
    • Я пошлю деньги сегодня. = I am going to send the money today (I will send).
    • Мы приедем в пять. = We will come at five.
    • Я сейчас запишу ваш адрес. = I will write down your address (right away).
    • Мы свернём направо. = We are going to turn right.
    • Я вам напишу, когда я приеду в Москву. = I will write you when I arrive in Moscow.
    •  Вы мне напишете, не правда ли? = You will write me, won’t you?
    •  Ты сам пойдёшь к нему и всё объяснишь. = You yourself will go to him and explain everything.

    Sometimes, the perfective future almost comes across as a present tense:

    • Попрошу вас… = I’ll ask you (to…)
    • Позволю себе заметить. = I will take the liberty to point out.
    • He сумею вам сказать. = I wouldn’t be able to tell you.
    • Как прикажете. = As you wish.
    • Вас не узнаешь. = One wouldn’t recognize you.
    • Ничего не поделаешь. = Nothing to be done.
    • Здесь такая путаница, что ничего не разберёшь. = There is such a mix-up here, that one can’t understand a thing.

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