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Can I use the future tense to express a possibility, or predict the future, rather than saying something I will surely do?

For example, if I say andrò a casa di mio cugino (literally, "I will go to my cousin's house"), does that mean I am surely going to my cousin's house, or is that also understood as "there is a possibility I will go to my cousin's house"?

To make another example, in English "I will come to live in Italy" can express something I am willing to do, not something I surely going to do; for some circumstances, the person saying that sentence could not be able to come to live in Italy, for example because she cannot sell her house.
What mood or tense should I use in that case, in Italian?

  • I think that "andrò a casa di mio cugino" means "andrò a casa di mio cugino" and "se andrò a casa di mio cugino" is an almost ungrammatical form of "se dovessi andare a casa di mio cugino". – Kyriakos Kyritsis Nov 7 '13 at 20:58
  • Se andrò is perfectly fine, to my ears, but it is not using the irrealis future. I am asking about andrò, not se andrò, though. – kiamlaluno Nov 7 '13 at 21:00
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    @KyriakosKyritsis That's not ungrammatical, the two things you mention are the two different kinds of hypothetical sentence. – martina Nov 7 '13 at 21:02
  • kiamla, and why do you think that "andrò" in "andrò a casa di mio cugino" expresses possibilità and not certezza? Or, in this case, too, you don't have an opinion? – Kyriakos Kyritsis Nov 7 '13 at 21:07
  • @KyriakosKyritsis That is easy to say: Nobody can have certainty about future. – kiamlaluno Nov 7 '13 at 21:08
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English and Italian behave in the same way on this matter.

Andrò a casa di mio cugino

and

I will go to my cousin's house

have the exact same meaning: I've decided to go to my cousin's house in the future.

The same applies to the sentence you mentioned in a comment to martina's answer

iOS 7 will be the OS used from 97% of the sold cell phones

would translate to

iOS 7 sarà il SO usato dal 97% dei cellulari venduti

with the exact same meaning. Both sentences state something that is going to happen in the future, but neither of the sentences would explicitly remark that this is just a prediction, even though this is obvious from the context.

Both languages have the possibility of adding some emphasis on the uncertainty, by using an auxiliary construct, such as Credo che (I believe) or Prevedo che (I foresee), for instance

Prevedo che Android non sarà più usato nel 2020
I foresee Android not being used anymore in 2020

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1

Italian has a future tense only in the Indicative mood, and Indicative is the mood of certainty, when you don't add specific verbs whose effect is to add uncertainty.

So, no, you can't use that sentence to express a probability. If you want to achieve this effect (convey uncertainty), you say:

Credo che andrò a casa di mio cugino.

So, the verb "credere" here adds that particular feature you want: you think you're going to your cousin's house, but that's not certain.

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  • What tense or mood does Italian use to predict future, then? – kiamlaluno Nov 7 '13 at 21:01
  • @kiamlaluno I don't understand the question, the Indicative future expresses future and it's the only kind of future tense you have in Italian (futuro semplice and futuro anteriore, two tenses, both Indicative). – martina Nov 7 '13 at 21:04
  • If I am predicting the future, I am not saying something that will surely happen. For example, "iOS 7 will be the OS used from 97% of the sold cell phones" is predicting (or trying to predict) the future, not saying something that is really going to happen. – kiamlaluno Nov 7 '13 at 21:07
  • @kiamla, they use the future tense, i.e., "domani il sole sorgerà di nuovo". – Kyriakos Kyritsis Nov 7 '13 at 21:15
  • @kiamlaluno I don't agre, in that sentence you're actually saying that iOS 7 will be the OS used by ... with certainty. You probably have done a statistical prediction based on data, but you're asserting a result which you believe to be true. If you want to convey uncertainty, you need the hypothetical construct (see my comments below the question up here). – martina Nov 7 '13 at 22:08

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