I think you’d all agree with me when I say: learning the future tense in Spanish can be REALLY tough.
And let’s face it, extremely dry grammar content fluffed up with fancy jargon does NOT help you understand how to use it.
I can almost hear the Royal Spanish Grammar Family scoffing form here, lording over their illusive intel and plotting how to take their secrets to the grave.
Well, my friends, today YOU’RE in luck, because I’ve been spying on the Lordship and I have some exclusive insider info that will dramatically improve the way you learn the future tense in Spanish.
I spend all my time decoding the puzzles so that YOU don’t have to!
Today, we will be uncovering everything you need to know about the Simple Future tense, along with some powerful advice that will help you remember WHEN it’s applicable as well as give you a…
BONUS TIP: when it can be swapped out for something easier!
How to Express the Future in Spanish
What is the “Future” to you?
Here’s the deal- you may have noticed that I didn’t write future “tense”, and that’s because before we jump into robotic conjugations, it behooves us English speakers to think about how WE use the future tense in Spanish. You’d be shocked to know how many people learn languages without ever analyzing their own!
When we think of time, we generally see three planes: PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE. And when we stumble upon a Spanish grammar book for the first time and see 32 tenses, we naturally have an existential crisis and want to pull our hair out.
But there’s an EASIER way…
LISTEN TO ME. It’s as easy as 1,2, 3.
For us, the future is either one of THREE things:
- “I am going to do my homework tomorrow” (indicating a prior plan)
- “I’ll do my homework tomorrow” (rapid decision)
- “I WILL do my homework tomorrow!!!” (a promise- with cogones!!!)
All subtle differences, which can be imagined through the following scenarios:
- Your concerned roommates ask… “You’re going out AGAIN? Don’t you have homework!?” to which you respond that you have a PRIOR PLAN, and that you are going to do your homework with your study group tomorrow!
- Your concerned roommates see you binge watching Netflix again, and you shoo away their concern with a RAPID DECISION that you’ll just do your homework tomorrow.
- Your concerned roommates see you struggling to juggle all of your commitments and you consider dropping out and moving to the Amazon, but instead you get your life together and proclaim your PROMISE that you WILL finish your homework tomorrow!
The perception of future differs from culture to culture. Ancient Amerindians believed the future was behind us (because we couldn’t see it) and the past was in front of us. And if you’ve ever heard a German speaking English, you would notice that they do not occupy #1, and exclusively speak in #3- “I will do this… I will go there” (now those are people are efficient!!!).
THE BEST PART is that our Latino and Spanish brethren are procrastinators like us, and we use the future in almost exactly the same way. So the key takeaway is to ALWAYS think in English first which form of the future you would use.
- Voy a hacer mis tareas mañana. I am going to do my homework tomorrow.
- Hago mis tareas mañana. I’ll do my homework tomorrow.
- Haré mis tareas mañana. I will do my homework tomorrow.
Again, all subtle differences, but they break down in these three ways:
|Verb “ir” conjugated + a + infinitive verb||Informal|
|Present Indicative tense||Informal|
|Simple Future tense||Formal|
Let’s attack 1 and 2, our informal buddies, before we take on 3.
The first way is by the far the most used way to express future. It is almost an exact translation of “I am going to do”, or “I’m gonna do”.
NOW, LISTEN UP HERE FOR THE NATIVE SECRET. The second way is the easiest way to express future. It’s the golden ticket!
In English, we slop together the subject “I” with “Will” to make “I’ll”, ultimately to save time.
In Spanish, we save time by just using the PRESENT instead of the FUTURE tense (you don’t even have to conjugate the future, how sweet is that?!) and it sounds way more colloquial and smooth.
Some more examples of expressing future in the present tense are:
- Nos vemos mañana. See you tomorrow. (Literally: We see each other tomorrow)
- No te preocupes, yo lo hago! Don’t worry, I’ll do it!
- Yo lo contesto! I’ll get it! (The phone)
SIMILARLY, if the future event is CERTAIN, many times the present tense will do just fine:
- Mi hermana se casa en julio. My sister is getting married in July.
- Mañana me graduo de la universidad. Tomorrow I am going to graduate from university.
I CANNOT EMPHASIZE ENOUGH how important it is to master #1 and #2. You must learn first how to conjugate the verb “ir” (yo voy, tú vas, él va…). Once you have this down, you just need to remember the infinitive verb (hacer, comer, beber…) and BAM!
You have the future that is most commonly spoken around the world, without ever having to conjugate the Simple Future tense! Look at all this time we are saving!
Additionally, with the powerful TIME SAVER above, if you know how to conjugate the Present, you have already mastered two of the three ways to express future! Felicidades!
Now To the Future… And Beyond!
Easiest Way to Conjugate the Simple Future Tense in Spanish
The Simple Future tense (#3) is used much less than the aforementioned two future forms, but nonetheless we WILL learn it together! (Grammar pun).
It is formed by taking the WHOLE infinitive verb (TO SPEAK = HABLAR) and just smacking the appropriate ending on it! Fácil!
|usted, él, ella||-á|
|ustedes, ellos, ellas||-án|
HISTORY BUFFS: In the old days of Shakespearian Spanish, people would say the infinitive verb followed by the conjugated verb HABER. For example, “Hablar he”, which literally means “Speak, I must” and sounds a whole lot like modern-day “Hablaré!”
Let’s practice with regular verbs before moving to the gnarly irregular verbs:
|usted, él, ella||hablará||comerá||recibirá|
|ustedes, ellos, ellas||hablarán||comerán||recibirán|
Pesky Irregular Verbs that Crash the Party but Come in Handy!
LOOK – Everyone who has every learned a foreign language in the history of the world has bullied irregular verbs for being different. They are like the mysterious, misunderstood kid who wallows in the corner and is difficult to communicate with.
But once you get him to open up, you have more compassion for him and all of humanity as a result!
We shouldn’t FEAR irregular verbs or make fun of them. Once we master them, the world gets a bit brighter. When we know better, we DO better.
What are the Irregular Verbs in Future Tense Spanish
Often, the most common everyday verbs are irregular, including TO BE (ser/estar), TO DO (hacer), TO SAY (decir) – you know, trivial things! But statistically speaking, the numbers are as follows:
- VERBS ENDING IN –AR: Less than 5% are irregular.
- VERBS ENDING IN –ER: Upwards of 72% are irregular.
- VERBS ENDING IN –AER: 100% irregular (but there are only 18).
- VERBS ENDING IN –IR: Upwards of 33% are irregular.
There are three categories of verbs that play hard to get and DO NOT FOLLOW the regular Future Tense Conjugation pattern in Spanish:
- Verbs that drop e from the infinitive (haber, caber, poder, querer, saber…)
- Verbs that drop the e or i from the infinitive and add d (poner, salir, tener, venir…)
- Verbs that do whatever they want because they are divas (hacer, decir…)
Let’s go over each one!
1. How to Speak in Future Tense When Verbs Drop E from the Infinitive
The model doesn’t stray far from the regular verb format. Just add the same endings, but drop the e from the infinitive (HABER -> HABR) + ENDING!
WE’RE IN LUCK! These verbs are some of the most commonly used, so you’ll remember these easily!
|usted, él, ella||habrá||podrá||sabrá|
|ustedes, ellos, ellas||habrán||podrán||sabrán|
2. How to Speak in Future Tense When Verbs Drop E or I and add D
Easy peasy- drop the i e and add the d (PONER PONDR) + ENDING!
|usted, él, ella||pondrá||saldrá||tendrá|
|ustedes, ellos, ellas||pondrán||saldrán||tendrán|
3. How to Deal with Diva Verbs that Demand Their Own Way
These verbs are far and few between (gracias a Dios!) and thus we just need to appreciate them in their uniqueness and memorize their patterns.
|usted, él, ella||hará||dirá|
|ustedes, ellos, ellas||harán||dirán|
So… When Exactly do I use #3 (Simple Future), and Why Does it Matter?
We English speakers know that we use “I am going to…” (and the less tasteful “I’m gonna…”) way more than we use “I will”. But the reality is there are some uses in Spanish that we DO NOT have in English, where it only makes sense to use the Simple Future tense.
Conjectures (fancy word for guesses), Possibilites, and Probabilites
- ¿Dónde estará mi bolso? Where (in the world) is my purse?
- ¿Cuántos años tendrá Maluma? I wonder how old Maluma is?
- ¿Será? You think? (Literally, it will be?)
- Serán las siete de la noche. It must be seven at night.
Is that… God speaking?
Historically, God gave solemn commands in the future tense.
- No tomarás el nombre de Dios en vano! You shall not take the Lord’s name in vein!
- No matarás. You shall not kill.
However, the same goes today for parents disciplining children.
- No te moverás de este lugar!* You will NOT move from this place!
- No tendrás tu celular por una semana entera! You will not have your cellphone for a whole week!
*NOTE: The command “No te moverás” differs from the command “No te muevas” in that, generally speaking, the future tense is used when it is more disciplinary and for periods of time that extend longer into the future.
For example, when your mom tells you to stay on a bench while she peruses the whole store “No te moverás de este banco hasta que regrese!”. On the contrary, “No te muevas” would be more for the period of time it takes to snap a picture. “Stay still, don’t move!”
Romance is in the Air
Oh, the romance! We often use the Future in English to indicate when we will ALWAYS be there for someone, physically or emotionally, but the same goes for commitments, jobs or sports teams. Hint: It is almost always accompanied by the world always (siempre).
- Siempre estaré a tu lado. I will always be by your side.
- Siempre te amaré. I will always love you. (sounds better in song)
- Siempre haré lo justo. I will always do what’s right.
- En buenas y malas, siempre apoyaré a mi equipo. Through the good and bad, I will always support my team. (Hala Madrid!)
Future Tense Spanish Practice
The best way to learn the future tense in Spanish is with LOTS of practice. Clozemaster is great for this as it allows you to practice conjugating the future tense in context. It offers thousands of future tense Spanish sentences to test your understanding. Try it out with the sentences from this article below!
BOTTOM LINE, People of the Future
Yes, okay, we have learned how to conjugate the regular and irregular verbs of the future, but MOST IMPORTANTLY now we know that the future in Spanish is so much more than just the Simple Future tense! The future tense in Spanish can also be the verb ir + a + infinitive (aka informal future) and sometimes just the Present tense (aka easy peasy).Easy as 1,2,3!
Moreover, we’ve seen that the future can be used for possibilities, solemn commands and juicy declarations of love. Qué lindo!
Thank you for taking a journey through time and space with us to understand the future of the Spanish language! We hope this page was useful and may always be used as a reference. Hasta el próximo, amigos!