In many Romance languages the future tense is conjugated with the infinitive stem + combining present of "to have".

For example:

  • ES haberhabr- + = habré
  • IT avereavr- + ho = avrò

But the stem in French is aur-, not avr-.

I'm aware that the letter V used to pronounce the same way as U is nowadays, but why isn't the letter V retained in the future stem of avoir?


There doesn't seem to be any clear explanation for why modern French doesn't use avr- as the future/conditional stem of avoir. Savoir shows the same AV/AU alternation. In contrast, we do see -vr- in the future/conditional stems of a number of -evoir verbs, such as devoir and recevoir.

The forms [so] and [o] which replace the future/conditional roots of the French verbs savoir 'to know' and avoir 'to have' (savra/avra, savroit/avroit > saura/aura, saurait/aurait) are of unexplained origin (see Maiden 1992). Possibly they reflect a sporadic or dialectal sound change...

("Morphological Innovation", by Martin Maiden, in The Cambridge History of the Romance Languages, Volume 1 (2011), p. 265)

Something I found out that may be related in some way: the verb boire seems to have lost -v- not only in its future/conditional stem but also in its infinitive form. Wiktionary says that in Old French, we can see the infinitive form boivre and the future/conditional stem bevr-.

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    Worth considering that while this kind of evolution of /C(V)L/ clusters is known in Walloon (STABULUM < */stab.lo/ < */staw.lə/ < wal. ståle /stɔːl/; DIABOLUM < */djab.lo/ < */djaw.lə/ < wal. diåle /dʒɔːl ~ dʒɑːl/; MACRUM < */mag.ro/ < */m(w)aj.rə/ < wal. m(w)aire /m(w)e:r/), saur- and aur- are kind of exceptional in being generalised to almost every Romance variety in France, Belgium and Switzerland (the South-West has forms like /sabɛr-/ for saur-, but /aʊ̞r-/ for aur-) – Eau qui dort Dec 18 '18 at 10:18
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    see ALF maps 97, 98, 99 and 1202 lig-tdcge.imag.fr/cartodialect3/carteTheme – Eau qui dort Dec 18 '18 at 10:19

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