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.
Just like in English, you can use the present to express the future.
Mañana trabajo todo el día – I work all day tomorrow.
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.
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.
The future is easy to conjugate. Keep the root of the verb and add the following to the ending:
Here is an example with trabajar, which means to work:
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
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:
¿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?”
“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.
“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.
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.
¿Qué estará haciendo ahora? – What could she be doing now?
Now that you the different uses of the future tense in Spanish, identify the specific use in the following phrases:
Answers: 1. Simple future; 2. Hypothetical future; 3.Si clause; 4. Cuando + subjunctive; 5. Si clause
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Irma is a trained linguist, native Spanish speaker, and teacher. She is the founder and CEO of Diáfano.
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