How To Use The Future Tenses In Greek

Do you ever get confused with the use of Future tenses in Greek?

For example, why & when do we say:

  • “Θα πιω νερό” instead of “Θα πίνω νερό”?
  • “Η Άννα θα φύγει αύριο” instead of “Η Άννα θα φεύγει αύριο”?
  • “Θα διαβάσουμε πολλά βιβλία” instead of “Θα διαβάζουμε πολλά βιβλία”?

Today I’m going to show you how to use and distinguish these two Future tenses.

By the end of this blog post you’ll be able to use them correctly aaand ... come up with your own resolutions for the New Year. Exciting?!

That's right, you'll use what you've learned (or revised) right away.

Happy New Year, by the way! To learn how to say this in Greek, click here.

So. You might be wondering.

What’s the difference between the 2 Future tenses?! (Also, are there more??)

First of all, there are 3 Future tenses: Simple, Continuous and Future Perfect.

Here, we’re looking at the two first, the Simple and the Continuous.

#1 The Simple Future

In my favourite Grammar for Greek learners, Greek: An Essential Grammar of the Modern Language, this is also called Perfective Future. It’s formed by θα + the perfective stem or the “aorist theme/stem” as we also use to call it. 

This is practically the reason why in most cases you first learn the Simple Past (Αόριστος: Aorist) and then the Simple Future; e.g. φεύγω → έφυγα → θα φύγω; By knowing the aorist stem -φυγ- it makes the Simple Future sound a bit ...simpler I guess?

The job of this tense is to describe future actions done at a specific time, without indicating the actual duration of the action.

Let’s see a few examples.

α. πίνω: to drink→ θα πιω

Imagine you’re reading the menu at a café. Your friend asks you:

"Τι θα πιεις; : What are you going to drink?"

Even if there is no verbal indication of time (tomorrow, at 10 am etc), the question is about the next moment. So you go ahead and reply:

"Θα πιω έναν καφέ. I’ll drink a coffee."

Let’s see another one.

β.. πάω/πηγαίνω: to go → θα πάω

Your cousin asks you about your work schedule:

"Πότε θα πας στη δουλειά; When are you going to work?"

"Θα πάω στις 8το πρωί. I’ll go at 8am."

Here, the question is about a future action done at a specific time. This is why your reply has the time + simple future here.

And let’s see a last example.

γ. μαγειρεύω: to cook → θα μαγειρέψω

"Τι θα μαγειρέψουμε αύριο για τους φίλους μας; What are we going to cook tomorrow for our friends?"

Recap:

All the examples above use Simple Future to talk about future actions, without getting into details about how long these last. They might or might not include an indication of time, such as "αύριο: tomorrow", "το μεσημέρι: at noon", "τον επόμενο μήνα: next month", "τη Δευτέρα: on Monday" etc.

#2 The Future Continuous

This is also called the Imperfective Future.

Its job is to describe future actions along with indicating their duration. These actions might be repetitive, for example describing a habit, or continuous.

Good news: This Future is formed only with θα + the verb in present tense.

Let’s see some examples.

α. κοιμάμαι→ θα κοιμάμαι

"Το καλοκαίρι θα κοιμάμαι πολύ αργά. In the summer, I will be sleeping very late."

Well, if you ever spent the summer in Greece you now how true this is, right?

Because the repetition here is about sleeping late every night or most nights, this is why we use the Future Continuous.

β. βγαίνω - θα βγαίνω

"Θα βγαίνω κάθε μέρα για περπάτημα. I’ll be going out for a walk every day."

Again, here we’re talking about going out for a walk every day. By using the phrase “every day”, we indicate the repetition. (Unless it’s -25C like it is right now in Toronto. No way I’m doing this every day!)

γ. γράφω - θα γράφω

"Η Μυρτώ θα γράφει όλο το απόγευμα. Myrto will be writing all afternoon."

In this case we talk about Myrto writing all afternoon. Since it’s something she’ll be doing the whole afternoon, Future Continuous is naturally the tense to use.

Recap:

Future Continuous is used to talk about habits and continuous acts in the future. When we indicate the time and duration, it's usually with phrases such as "όλη μέρα: all day", "όλο το απόγευμα: all afternoon", "κάθε μέρα: every day" etc.

So how does it sound so far? Are you ready to make your own New Year’s resolutions?

Now, for resolutions we need both future tenses, depending on what we want to do. Is it something we promise doing every day, making it a habit? Or something we’ll hopefully complete this year?

Here some ideas to get you started:

Simple Future

  • Θα μάθω ελληνικά. I’ll learn Greek.
  • Θα πάω ταξίδι στην Ισλανδία. I’ll go for a trip to Iceland.
  • Θα γραφτώ στη χορωδία. I’ll sign myself up for the choir.
  • Θα καθαρίσω την αποθήκη (επιτέλους!). I’ll clean the storage room (at last!).
  • Θα ξεπεράσω τους φόβους μου. I’ll overcome my fears.

Future Continuous

  • Θα περνάω περισσότερο χρόνο με την οικογένειά μου. I’ll be spending more time with my family.
  • Θα κοιμάμαι νωρίς. I’ll be sleeping early.
  • Θα πηγαίνω κάθε Σάββατο στο γυμναστήριο. I’ll be going every Saturday to the gym.
  • Θα φροντίζω τον κήπο μου. I’ll be taking care of my garden.
  • Θα διαβάζω περισσότερο. I’ll be reading more.

What are your resolutions this year? Let me know in the comments!

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