The Future Tense

         

Just as there is a tense to talk about the present and tenses to talk about the past, there is a special tense to refer to future events.

Here's everything you need to know to conjugate and use the future tense:

Alternatives to the Future Tense

Before we discuss the future tense, let's look at a couple of ways to talk about the future without the hassle of learning new conjugations.

Ir + a + infinitive

You can use the construction ir + a + infinitive to refer to the future. Just conjugate ir in the present tense and add an "a" and then an infinitive:

voy

vamos

vas

vais

va

van

+ a + infinitive

We do pretty much the same thing in English. For example:

Voy a trabajar mañana.
I'm going to work tomorrow.

Nosotros vamos a llamarte luego.
We are going to call you later.

Él va a enojarse.
He is going to get angry.

The Present Tense

Yes, you read that right. You can actually use the present tense to talk about future events, especially if they're going to happen soon. (And again, we do this in English too.)

Trabajo este sábado.
I work this Saturday.

Comemos juntos mañana.
We're eating together tomorrow.

Ellos se van la próxima semana.
They leave next week.

OK, but what if you want to speak explicitly about the future without resorting to these tricks? Use the future tense.

Regular Future Tense Verbs

The future tense is unlike other conjugations in that instead of removing the "-ar," "-er," or "-ir" ending, we're going to use the entire infinitive as our stem. Another difference is that for the first time it doesn't matter what kind of verb you have. Every verb, "-ar," "-er," or "-ir," has the following endings, no exceptions:

"-ar" / "-er" / "-ir" endings:

-emos

-ás

-éis

-án

Here are some examples:

hablar:

comer:

vivir:

hablaré

hablaremos

hablarás

hablaréis

hablará

hablarán

comeré

comeremos

comerás

comeréis

comerá

comerán

viviré

viviremos

vivirás

viviréis

vivirá

vivirán

And some more examples in context:

Trabajaré este sábado.
I will work this Saturday.

Resolveremos el problema mañana.
We'll resolve the problem tomorrow.

Ellos conducirán a Chicago la próxima semana.
They will drive to Chicago next week.

Notice that the English translations include the word "will" (or a contraction thereof). Also, take some time to think about the pronunciation. Novices commonly ignore the accent marks and stress the second-to-last syllable. But all of those accent marks on the endings are there for a reason. They indicate that you should be stressing the last syllable (except for the nosotros form). Make sure you do so.

Let's practice! Conjugate regular future tense verbs on ¡Practiquemos!

Irregular Future Tense Verbs

Note: The verb haber is also irregular in the future. It becomes habrá which means "there will be."


Note: The verb satisfacer (to satisfy) follows the pattern of hacer: satisfaré, satisfarás, etc.

You knew it was coming. There are about a dozen irregular future tense verbs you should know. These verbs don't use the full infinitive but rather have shortened stems (to which we attach the regular endings).

caber (to fit)
decir (to say, to tell)
hacer (to make, to do)
poder (to be able to)
poner (to put)
querer (to want)
saber (to know)
salir (to leave, to go out)
tener (to have)
valer (to be worth)
venir (to come)











cabr-
dir-
har-
podr-
pondr-
querr-
sabr-
saldr-
tendr-
valdr-
vendr-

As you can see, in many cases we're shortening the stems by ditching a vowel. But in other cases we're actually gaining (strange) letters. Also notice that in the case of querer we're getting an extra "r" which means you'll have to roll your tongue. Some examples:

Juan Carlos no hará su tarea esta noche.
Juan Carlos won't do his homework tonight.

Yo te diré el chiste después del anuncio.
I'll tell you the joke after the commercial.

Ella querrá cenar un restaurante caro.
She will want to have dinner in an expensive restaurant.

Note: The verb bendecir (to bless) does not follow the pattern of decir: bendeciré, bendecirás, bendecirá, etc.

Most verbs based on one of these irregular verbs will have a similar irregular conjugation. Take detener and proponer for example:

La policía detendrá al ladrón.
The police will arrest the thief.

Los senadores propondrán cambios a la enmienda.
The senators will propose changes to the amendment.

Let's practice! Conjugate irregular future tense verbs on ¡Practiquemos!

Using the Future Tense

When should you use the future tense? If you want to talk about the future, obviously. But there are other applications as well.

The future tense can be used to express conjecture or speculation about the present:

Ella estudiará ahora.
She's probably studying now. / She would be studying now.

¿Dónde estarán mis libros?
Where could my books be? / I wonder where my books are.

The future tense can also be used to give commands. In this sense the "will" is more of a "shall":

No matarás. No cometerás adulterio. No robarás.
You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal.

Things to Look Out For

Consider this sentence:

Will you go the post office for me?

You may be tempted to use the future tense here since it's clearly referring to the future and even includes the word "will." But the problem here is that this question isn't asking about any specific future plan, but rather a willingness to run an errand. Because of that, you're better off using querer (in the present tense) when you translate:

¿Quieres ir al correo para mí?
Not: ¿Irás al correo para mí?

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