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The Future Tense in Spanish

There are three ways to express the future in Spanish, and all of them are used in English as well: present tense, immediate future, and simple future.

1. Present tense

Just like in English, you can use the present to express the future. 

Mañana trabajo todo el día – I work all day tomorrow.

2. Immediate future

El futuro próximo, or immediate future, is expressed using the irregular verb ir, followed by an “a,” followed by an infinitive verb. These are generally actions that will occur in the near future. 

Voy a visitar a mi madre – I am going to visit my mother.

3. Simple future

El futuro simple, also known as el futuro imperfecto, in English the most basic way of expressing the future. 

Haremos algunos viajes este año – We’ll make a few trips this year. 

Conjugating the future

The future is easy to conjugate. Keep the root of the verb and add the following to the ending:

-ás

-emos 

-éis 

-án

Here is an example with trabajar, which means to work:

Yo trabajaré

Tú trabajarás

Él trabajará

Nosotros/-as trabajaremos

Vosotros/-as trabajaréis

Ellos/-as/ustedes trabajarán

Irregular verbs in the future

Note that only the root changes for irregular verbs.

caber – to fit -cabré

decir – to say – diré

haber – there is, there are -habré

hacer – to do -haré

querer -to want, to love -querré

poder – can, be able to -podré

poner – to put – pondré

saber – to know -sabré

salir – to go out -saldré

tener – to have -tendré

valer – to be worth, to cost – valdré

venir – to come – vendré

Uses of the future tense

The future tense is not used to express desire in English. “Will you help with this?” would not use the future in Spanish. The conditional would be the right option: ¿Me podrías ayudar con esto? There are various uses of the future in Spanish. Learn them all: 

  • The future. Literally. 

¿Vendrás con nosotros a la fiesta? – Will you come to the party with us?

In English, this could also be expressed with a simple “Are you coming with us to the party?” or “Will you be coming with us to the party?”

  • Present continuous phrases in English

I am working on that project tonight” is translated as “Voy a trabajar en el proyecto esta noche,” using the immediate future; or “Trabajaré en el proyecto esta noche,” using simple future tense. 

  • “Si” clause. 

If I pass by the store, I’ll buy some milk” is an example of a conditional phrase using the simple future. In Spanish, this would be, Si paso por la tienda, compraré leche.” Conditional phrases could be expressed using the present tense, the immediate future, or the simple future, as in the example above. 

Present tense: Si paso por la tienda, compro leche – If I go to the store, I get some milk. 

Immediate future: If I go to the store, I am going to buy some milk – Si paso por la tienda, voy a comprar leche.

Note how the first part of the phrase using “si” is in the present tense.

  • Cuando + subjunctive 

In constructions using cuando, followed by the subjunctive, future is used: 

Cuando vaya a México, visitaré las pirámides – When I go to Mexico, I will visit the pyramids. 

The first clause uses the subjunctive in order to differentiate this from the following: 

Cuando voy a México, visito las pirámides – When I go to Mexico, I visit the pyramids. 

The first example, in the subjunctive, narrates a future event. The second example, in the indicative, narrates a common event, a habit. 

  • Hypothetical future. Known as “el futuro hipotético,” this is used to express what you believe could be happening in the present. This invites the interlocutor to provide you with a hypothesis, also using hypothetical future. You have no certainty of that. When I lived in Japan, for example, I often used el futuro hipotético when I was thinking about my mother in New York:

¿Qué estará haciendo ahora? – What could she be doing now? 

Exercises with the future tense

Now that you the different uses of the future tense in Spanish, identify the specific use in the following phrases: 

  1. Se casarán el año entrante – They will get married next year. 
  2. ¿Dónde estará Pedro? ¡Todavía no ha llegado! – Where could Pedro be? He is still not here!
  3. Si viajas a Argentina, ¿irás a Iguazú? – If you travel to Argentina, will you go to Iguazú?
  4. Cuando estemos casados, tendremos muchos hijos – Once we are married, we’ll have many children.
  5. Si nos vamos temprano, podremos tomar fotos de la catedral – If we leave early, we’ll be able to take pictures of the cathedral.

Answers: 1. Simple future; 2. Hypothetical future; 3.Si clause; 4. Cuando + subjunctive; 5. Si clause

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