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Here are two examples:

  1. a) Je vais partir pour Paris demain.

  2. b) Je pars pour Paris demain.

  3. a) Je vais à la plage dans deux heures.

  4. b) Je vais aller à la plage dans deux heures.

Is the difference between the sentences (a) and (b) minimal, or is there a time and place for either? Is it the same as the difference in English: I will leave for Paris tomorrow, I leave for Paris tomorrow?

Thanks

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  • 1
    Je pars à la plage dans deux heures.
    – jlliagre
    Jun 13, 2023 at 21:51
  • I think constructions such as je vais aller... are a bit open to criticism for redundancy as in monter en haut. In a written composition in school, you might get a comment admonishing to write in a more direct style, such as jiliagre's je pars pour la plage dans deux heures.
    – Frank
    Jun 14, 2023 at 1:59
  • Je vais partir pour Paris demain & Je pars pour Paris demain would compare with "I'm going to leave for Paris tomorrow" (and not "I will leave...") & "I leave for Paris tomorrow". "I will leave" would be je partirai.
    – None
    Jun 14, 2023 at 7:11

2 Answers 2

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The difference between (a) and (b) is minimal. (b) sounds better to me. I don't see any serious grammatical mistake in any of those sentences.

Using the present in those situations to mean "futur proche" is very common, at least when speaking. In terms of style, using the présent is usually considered to result in a more lively style.

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    My feeling is that using the present really sounds better when there is some precision of time, i.e. "demain" or "dans deux heures". The futur proche is more common if there is no indication of when (maybe next minute or next week).
    – Graffito
    Jun 14, 2023 at 0:48
  • @Graffito I think that's right. Je vais y aller (without a specific time) and j'y vais la semaine prochaine. Works for me.
    – Frank
    Jun 14, 2023 at 1:57
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I usually associate futur proche with present continuous (I am going to Paris) and présent with simple present (I go to Paris.) In this sense, using futur proche with a definite time marker (demain, dans deux heures) seems odd to me, since it indicates the action that is imminent, rather than planned at a certain moment (which is what I was taught to use for choosing the tense in English.)

Disclaimer: neither French nor English are my native language. Neither am I an expert grammarian.

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  • Isn't the French present more similar to present continuous (Je vais à la plage à quatre heures - I'm going to the beach at 4)? And futur proche similar to "going to" (Je vais chercher un appartement le mois prochain - I’m going to look for a new place next month)? Jun 14, 2023 at 8:43
  • @guillaume31 When speaking about present French does not distinguish continuous aspect. Where you have a point is that there is somewhat different sue of continuous to designate future in English: Je vais partir demain à 5h may be translated literally as I am going to leave tomorrow at 5. or I am leaving tomorrow at 5. The latter version designates an action that is imminent, and adding precise time is a bit weird, as it disconnects it from the present moment (i.e., the imminence.) This is though not as clearly cut as the use of present perfect: I have left at 5pm. is ungrammatical.
    – Roger V.
    Jun 14, 2023 at 8:49
  • @RogerVadim: In English, I am going to Paris tomorrow is not semantically "continuous aspect." You would not translate it as je suis en train d'aller à Paris demain. Jul 2, 2023 at 16:48
  • @PeterShor I am not claiming it to besemantically continuous, but semantically imminent (while grammatically continuous): je suis sur le point d'aller à Paris (demain??)
    – Roger V.
    Jul 3, 2023 at 5:05

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