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To facilitate the expression of the future by French language learners, I have established a simple triple distinction model via the présent, the futur proche (near future), and the futur simple (simple future). This model does not cover other tenses that are sometimes used for futurity like the passé composé.

Present tense
used for very near future or for future (very near, near or far) which occurrence only depends on agent willingness (internal agent conditions)

Near future (Aller + infinitive)
used for near future or for future (very near, near or far) which agent wants to do it but occurrence could be affected by external factors (like decisions/actions of other people, environment conditions, ...)

Simple future
used for expressing future (very near, near or far) which agent thinks it almost certainly happens.

Examples

  • Je vais au cinéma ce soir. (I decide to go to the cinema. this decision could be affected only by me)
  • Je vais aller au cinéma ce soir. (I decide to go to the cinema but keep in mind that this decision could be affected by external factors)
  • J'irai au cinéma ce soir (I almost certainly will go to the cinema tonight)

Does this model work in practice?

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It seems to be correct for me. You can but add an other case for the use of le présent as futur time: you use it also for something which is scheduled. For example "Mon avion part demain" or "je présente mon exposé la semaine prochaine". But only a question: what do you mean exactely by agent?

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  • Agent is a semantic role. Someone or something which does the verb. In most sentences it is equivalent to the subject, but in some sentences, for example, passive voice sentences it is not the subject of the sentence
    – Houman
    Aug 14 '20 at 7:18

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