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By now I am feeling pretty confident in using -ant- and -int- forms, partly because they have a direct correspondence in my native language, but I am not sure in what real-world situations I would find myself using -onte or -onta (-onto clicks well in studonto or prezidonto). Can some general situations in which the future participles are helpful (not just sentences specifically tailored to contain them) be summarized?

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Next and future: e.g. estonta, sekvonta and venonta

These words are used to refer to future events and phenomena which can confidently be expected to happen at a certain date or time.

Dum la venonta semajno, ni diskutos la estontan formon de nia entrepreno.

In the coming week, we will be discussing the future shape of our undertaking.

Was to, was intending to: e.g. dormonta, loĝonta

A future action, as seen from the past, calls for estis ...onta.

Mi ekzamenis la liton en kiu mi estis dormonta.

I examined the bed in which I was to sleep.

Just about to: e.g. ironta

If an action is planned, then even if it is forestalled, you can use ...onta.

Mi estis (tuj) ironta al la maŝino kiam ĝi komencis grinci.

I was just about to go to the machine when it started making grinding noises.

Je la oka horo morgaŭ, li estos tuj forlasonta la domon.

At eight o' clock tomorrow, he will be on the point of leaving the house.

Who will do something in the future: e.g. atakonta

Sentences which in English have to be phrased as "those ... who will ..." or similar circumlocutions, can be expressed simply with ...onta.

Ne timu la atakontajn rutinulojn!

Don't be afraid of the attacks that will come from the hidebound! [the attacking-in-the-future routine-people]

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Read this chapter: http://pages.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan/eo/colloq/colloq120.html#sec12-3


For onte, imagine you want to describe one action in the context of another. For example, while out running I saw a frog.

  • Kurinte, mi vidis ranon = Having run, I saw a frog.
  • Kurante, mi vidas ranon = While running, I see a frog.
  • Kuronte, mi vidos ranon = About to run, I will see a frog.

For onta, you can use it the same way that we use English participles.

  • La viro kiu kuris estas alta. = La kurinta viro estas alta.
  • La viro kiu kuras estas alta. = La kuranta viro estas alta.
  • La viro kiu kuros estas alta. = La kuronta viro estas alta.
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My first thought when I read this question was that the approach is exactly backwards. Rather than starting with a grammatical feature and asking "what can I use it for", we should focus on things we want to say (or perhaps things others have said) and work out the grammar needed to express them (or in the case of what others have said, how to understand them.)

The participles were invented by analogy with the verb tense endings (-as, -is, -os) but they are not verb tenses. Rather, they relate to aspect. That is, they don't say when an action was done, but rather whether it is complete, on-going, or not yet started. Since there is a future tense, it makes sense for there to be a future participle, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it ever has to be used.

Returning to the principle of understanding real examples of these participles in use, I pulled a few more or less random examples from the Tekstaro. I limited my search to the sources that are marked as Zamenhofaj.

  • miaj kreditoroj estontaj - my future creditors
  • La tuta urbo parolas pri vi du kiel pri estontaj geedzoj - the whole city speaks about you as future husband and wife.
  • Ni renkontiĝos en Kristianio la venontan vintron, ŝi diris. - We will meet in Kristanio the coming winder, she said.
  • en la kelkaj sekvontaj linioj, - in the following few lines
  • La kvar kamaradoj eksidis ĉe la tablo, atakis tion, kio restis, kaj manĝis kvazaŭ malsatontaj kvar semajnojn. - The four friends sat down at the table, attacked what remained, and ate as if they were going to starve the next four weeks.
  • Baldaŭ, kiam li estis ekdormonta, li aŭdis interparoladon de du pasantoj. - Soon, as he was just ready to fall asleep, he heard the conversation of two passers by.
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