In this article, I'm going to explain how to express the future in Spanish and the ways to do it. We need several things to know first:
- Temporal marks
- Resources to express probabilities.
- Querer y pensar + infinitive
- First method: Immediate Future: Ir + A + Infinitive
- Second method: Future Tense
- Third method: Future Tense or Immediate Tense?
- Using Future to Express Probabilities
First of all let's present the essential words that will be the first bricks in our building of the future:
- Mañana (Tomorrow).
- Pasado mañana (The day after tomorrow).
- El sábado (Saturday).
- El domingo (Sunday)
- Este jueves / mes / año / siglo… (This Thursday / month / year / century…).
- Esta semana / mañana / tarde / noche (This week / morning / afternoon, tonight).
- Dentro de dos años / unos años (In two years / in a few years).
- El lunes / mes / año /... que viene, El lunes / mes / año / ... próximo (Next Monday / month / year..).
Resources to Express Probabilities
After temporal marks, the next brick that we need are the resources to express probabilities, usually located at the beginning. Where seguramente que is the most improbable event. These are as follows:
- Seguro que (I am sure that).
- Probablemente (Probably).
- Posiblemente (Likely).
- Seguramente que (Surely).
Examples in sentences:
- Seguramente esta noche llegarán tarde.
- Probablemente volverán muy cansados después de la excursión.
- Supongo que iremos de vacaciones a Mallorca, como siempre.
Querer y Pensar
The first good choice to talk about our intentions in future is using the verb querer and the verb pensar in present tense. Both are irregular in present. In Spanish this option is used for expressing just our intention.
- Esta noche queremos pasear con María y Pedro por el parque (Tonight we want to walk with Maria and Pedro in the park).
- Pienso trabajar mucho para terminar el artículo para el periódico a tiempo (I plan to work hard to finish the article for the newspaper on time).
There are three ways to talk about future in Spanish, and all of them are easy to practice and learn:
First Method: Immediate Future: Ir + A + Infinitive
Like in English, an action that will occur some time in the future can also be expressed without the future tense itself, but with the construction called the immediate future. It is formed with the verb ir in the present tense + a + the infinitive of the main verb.
- Mañana Miguel va a montar monopatín (Tomorrow Miguel is going to skate).
- Esta semana María va a comprar un coche nuevo (This week Maria is going to buy a new car).
- Ellas van a bailar (They are going to dance.)
We also use this option when we talk about plans. If you would like to say something about your next holidays, you can say:
- El próximo mes voy a viajar a París en coche con mis hermanos. Vamos a visitar muchos museos y algunos castillos (Next month I will travel to Paris by car with my brothers. We will visit many museums and some castles).
- Cuando tenga 21 años voy a viajar a Panamá como voluntario (When I am 21 years old, I'm going to Panama as a volunteer).
- Dentro de dos meses voy a terminar mi segundo libro (In two months I'm going to finish my second book).
- El próximo año voy a hacer un curso sobre Mercadeo en línea en Madrid (Next year, I'm going to do a course about Online Marketing in Madrid).
In these cases, I am sure that what I am saying will be done. Maybe because I already booked the flight or the hotel, or maybe because I have planned all the journey.
So we use ir + a + infinitive when we are sure that the plan will be done. And remember, ir is conjugated in present tense.
Remember the conjugation:
Second Method: Future Tense
There is a tense that is easy to learn and very useful in Spanish: the Future Tense. The verb form is quite easy. It doesn't work like present tense or past tense.
In this case, we add something to the infinitive verb, the same thing for each of the three families of verbs (-ar, -er, -ir). And like in English, you don't need an auxiliary to show that an action will take place. Finally, an easy tense!
- Hablar: Hablaré, hablarás, hablará, hablaremos, hablaréis, hablarán
- Coger: Cogeré, cogerás, cogerá, cogeremos, cogeréis, cogerán.
- Sentir: Sentiré, sentirás, sentirá, sentiremos, sentiréis, sentirán.
- John traerá sus deberes mañana (John will bring his homework tomorrow).
- Escribiré una carta la próxima semana (I will write a letter next week).
- Te llamaré esta noche (I’ll call you tonight).
- Nosotros cenaremos en cinco minutos (We will eat dinner in five minutes).
- Vosotros encontraréis mucha gente en ese club (You will find a lot of people in that club).
There are irregular verbs in all the tenses in Spanish. In the case of the future, they are easy but it takes a bit of time to remember them.
Don’t despair, just practice. There are many exercises to practice with audio in books like Prisma, Aula or Gente.
- Tener: Tendr-
- Salir: Saldr-
- Haber: Habr-
- Poner: Pondr-
- Venir: Vendr-
- Hacer: Har-
- Decir: Dir-
- Querer: querr-
- Saber: sabr-
As you can see, the changes are at the beginning, the endings remain the same.
- El año que viene no podré viajar mucho porque no tengo dinero (Next year I won’t be able to travel much because I don't have enough money).
- Esta noche sabremos quién ha ganado el Campeonato de Fútbol (Tonight we will know who has won the Soccer Championship).
Third Method: Future Tense or Immediate Tense?
The future tense indicates that an action will take place sometime in the future. However, we use the future tense when, in the case of holidays, we are not very sure about the trip or about the dates.
- El próximo verano iremos a París en coche con mis hermanos. Iremos seguramente en Agosto, aunque aún no es seguro (Next summer we will go to Paris by car with my brothers. We will go probably in August, although it is not certain yet).
- Saldremos probablemente desde Barcelona a finales de Agosto (We'll probably leave from Barcelona at the end of August).
Probably or maybe we will go, is our intention, but it is not sure. So, we have to use one tense or the other depending of our intention. So, pay attention to the difference between those sentences, which will be just an idea and which one a real plan?
- El mes que viene buscaré un nuevo trabajo porque en la empresa donde trabajo tengo problemas (Next month I'll look for a new job because I have problems in the company where I work).
- El mes que viene voy a buscar un nuevo trabajo (Next month I'll look for a new job).
Easy, right? The second sentence will probably happen, not the first one. Think about this when a spanish friend, after a dinner together, tells you:
- Adiós, te llamaré la semana que viene para quedar. Seguro que sí. Nos vemos (Goodbye, I'll call you next week to get together. Sure. See you).
Mmmm... Maybe that meeting will not happen. Spanish people usually talk like this, it is our character, our personality. Don't take it badly if your spanish friend doesn't call you in the next weeks. Between friends is really common to exaggerate. But, if the same friend tells you:
- Mañana vamos a tomar unas cervezas con los amigos de la Universidad. Si quieres venir, mándame un whatsapp (Tomorrow we will have a few beers with friends from the University. If you want to come, send me a whatsapp).
Your friend is certain that the meeting will happen, so if you would like to go, don't forget to send the message.
Using Future to Express Probabilities
Remember, when we use the future tense, what we say may or may not happen. It’s also used to express wonder or probability in the present. When we don't have the information, we can just guess. Let's see some examples:
- I wonder who she is? ¿Quién será ella?
- I wonder, what time is it? ¿Qué hora será?
- He is probably travelling alone. Estará viajando solo.
- It’s probably 4:00 o’clock. Serán las 4:00 en punto.
- I can't find my book. John must have it. No puedo encontrar mi libro. Juan lo tendrá.
In the Spanish culture it is not very common to say: “No lo sé”, (I don't know) or “No tengo ni idea” (I have no idea). We don't like to accept that we don't know something.
A curious thing that foreign people realize when they arrive in Spain is that we talk, and talk and talk. With friends and with strangers. At the bus stop old women will talk to you, and we talk really quickly. At the beginning, you won’t like it, but when you return to your country, you will probably miss it.
I propose we play a game. Could you tell me what are Pedro Almodóvar, Will Smith and Paris Hilton doing right now?