How To Use The 3 Main Future Tenses In Spanish (Easy Guide)

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How To Use The 3 Main Future Tenses In Spanish (Easy Guide)

Trying to get your head around the Spanish future tense in your Spanish course?

You’ve come to the right place.

The main difficulties you might face when using the Spanish future is knowing how to conjugate the verbs.

But thankfully the future tense is not as difficult as the subjunctive mood or the four Spanish past tenses.

Given that the Spanish future tenses match the same modes as the English future tenses, you might find it less of a challenge.

But, to boost your grasp on the Spanish future tense, this short post will give you all the facts you need.

So, let’s get started.

What are the 3 main Spanish future tenses?

In Spanish, there are three different future tenses, which include the simple future tense, the ir a + infinitive mode and the future perfect tense.

I’m going to explain each of these in turn, below.

The Spanish simple future tense explained

If you’re using the simple future tense, or you hear a native Spanish speaker using the simple future tense, they’re describing something that will happen in the future.

That’s quite self-explanatory.

In English, to use the simple future tense, you would typically use the word ‘will’ in the sentence. For instance, ‘I will study English literature in the future’.

But how would you say this in Spanish?

Let’s have a look at a couple of examples of the Spanish simple future tense in action.

Estudiaré literatura inglesa en el futuro.

I will study English literature in the future.

Comprará un coche nuevo el mes que viene.

He will buy a new car next month.

Now, what makes the simple future tense different from the other two future tenses we’ve mentioned above is the way it is conjugated.

In the examples above, the verbs estudiaré and comprará take the simple Spanish future tense mode. The endings or suffixes of each verb have been modified to reflect the subject of the sentence and to indicate that these events will happen in the future.

So, to get started with conjugating the simple future tense verbs here’s a quick run through of the simple tense verb conjugations for you (for AR, IR and ER verbs):

Subject/PronounEstudiarDescibrirVolver
YoEstudiaréDescubriréVolveré
EstudiarásDescubrirásVolverás
Él/Ella/UstedEstudiaráDescibriráVolverá
NosotrosEstudiaremosDescibriremosVolveremos
VosotrosEstudiaréisDescubriréisVolveréis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesEstudiaránDescubriránVolverán

Using the ir a + infinitive mode to describe events in the future

When it comes to the ir a + infinitive mode, again this is used to describe events in the future.

It differs slightly from the simple future (above) in the sense that it uses a particular formula and is conjugated another way. Keep reading to find out how.

With the ir a + infinitive mode, you should also be aware that the English counterpart includes the phrase ‘going to’. So, one example in English is something like ‘I’m going to eat this delicious meal’.

What would the Spanish equivalent to this phrase be? Take a look below to find out:

Voy a comer esta comida deliciosa.

I'm going to eat this delicious meal.

Here’s another example of the ir a + infinitive mode for the future tense in Spanish:

Va a ser medico dentro de diez años.

He's going to be a doctor within ten years.

You can see from the examples that the ir a + infinitive mode can be modified to focus on different subjects (yo, tú, el… etc). So, let’s now focus on how the ir a + infinitive mode is conjugated.

The verb ir is conjugated as follows:

Subject/Pronoun VerbIR
YoVoy
Vas
Él/Ella/UstedVa
NosotrosVamos
VosotrosVais
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesVan

So, if you wanted to make someone else the subject of the sentence, you would use the relevant verb conjugation for the corresponding subject pronoun to do so.

For example, to say ’they are going to be doctors within ten years’ instead of ’he is going to be a doctor within ten years’ you would use the ellos form of the verb ir in the table:

Ellos van a ser doctores dentro de diez años.

They are going to be doctors within ten years.

You can also see that after the verb ir, there is a second verb that takes the infinitive form (i.e., it is not conjugated). So, to remember this mode, all you need to keep in mind is the simple formula ir a + infinitive.

It’s quite easy but takes a little bit of practice.

When to use the future perfect tense

The future perfect tense isn’t used as frequently as the previous two examples we’ve described above. But knowing about it will round out your knowledge of the Spanish future tenses.

The simple way to explain this mode is that it’s used to describe events that are going to be completed by a certain time in the future. Let’s use an English example or equivalent to clarify this. Say you’re working on a project and you want to describe when it will be completed.

The words you will need are ‘will have’:

I will have finished this project by the end of next week.

Here are some examples of the future Spanish tense to help you better understand this:

Habré terminado este libro dentro de una hora.

I will have finished this book within an hour.

Habrá acabado de llegar justo ahora.

He will have arrived just now.

The formula you’ll require when creating Spanish phrases in the Spanish future perfect tense, which the above two sentences also follow, is haber (in the future tense) + a verb in the past participle form.

So, from the examples above you might have noticed that the Spanish verb haber always takes the future tense and that the verb haber is typically followed by a second verb in the past participle form.

You might also have noticed that you can conjugate it depending on the subject of the sentence.

With that in mind, here’s how to conjugate the Spanish verb haber in the future tense:

Subject/Pronoun VerbHABER
YoHabré
Habrás
Él/Ella/UstedHabrá
NosotrosHabremos
VosotrosHabréis
Ellos/Ellas/UstedesHabrán

Using the present tense to refer to future events

Now, just wait a second - why are some Spanish natives using the present tense when referring to future events?

What’s the deal with that?

Well, the truth is, just like in some English sentences (colloquial ones), sometimes you can use the present tense to refer to future events.

So, instead of te compraré una bici para tu cumple la semana que viene, you might see or hear te compro una bici para tu cumple la semana que viene.

The key to this is to remember to mention the time that the event will take place. So, take note that the example just above refers to la semana que viene — (next week).

This is sometimes known as the ‘present future tense’.

Conjugations are crucial: practice them to get your Spanish future tense right!

We’ve come to the end of our post on the Spanish future tense.

Here is one quick tip to help you remember them — try to dedicate some time to practice your Spanish verb conjugations. Each Spanish future tense has its own set of conjugations (and rules, for that matter), so getting this right will help you.

To do it, make it fun by playing a game with dice. Assign each of the pronouns listed in the above tables a number from one to six.

Choose a verb (like haber in the future tense) that you want to master.

Roll the dice and try to conjugate the verb form that corresponds to the number the dice lands on.

For example: for the verb haber — assign the subject pronouns a number.

Yo = 1, Tú = 2, Él/Ella/Usted = 3, Nosotros = 4, Vosotros = 5 and Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes = 6.

Then, roll the dice.

If you received number 4, you would have to conjugate the verb haber in the future and nosotros form, which would be habremos. Did you get it correct?

Over to you. 😊


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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Icelandic
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