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How to express the future in Spanish – Advanced uses Posted by on Aug 30, 2010 in Spanish Grammar

We don’t always need to express the future in Spanish using the Futuro de Indicativo (hablaré, cantarás, etc.).

When we want to express plans and intentions we can use the indicative present form of ir (voy, vas, va, etc.) + a + infinitive of the main verb. We can also use the Presente or Imperfecto of the verb pensar (pienso / pensaba) + infinitivo.

With the first option we emphasize precise plans and with the second one we imply intention. We use the third form (pensaba) when we add a hint of willingness to negotiate what we have expressed. Take for example the question:

¿Qué vas a hacer el fin de semana?

The answer could be:

Voy a ir a la playa. (I’m going to go to the beach. I’ve already decided about it.)
Pienso ir a la playa. (I’ve thought about it, it’s almost decided.)
Pensaba ir a la playa. (I want to go, but if there’s something more interesting to do, I can change my mind.)

Sometimes we use a typical future verb form but we’re conveying another idea such as doubt, insecurity or hypothesis. Take a look at some of them:

* Come up with a hipothesis or express what we think is possible or likely (could express present or future)

¿Dónde estará Carlos? (Where could Carlos be?)
Estará en la escuela. (He might be at school.)
Será el mejor concierto del año. (It’s going to be the best concert of the year.)

We can also use a future form to give an idea of a past action. In this case we use the Futuro Perfecto.

María todavía no ha llegado, ¿le habrá pasado algo? (María hasn’t arrived yet, I wonder if something happened to her / what could have happened to her?)

We also use the Futuro Perfecto to express the idea of an action that will be completed in the future. In English we have the phrase will have + infinitive.

A esa hora mañana, ya habré terminado el proyecto. (At this time tomorrow, I will have finished the project.)

The Futuro de Indicativo form can also be used to express surprise, disbelief or contrast.

Será un profesor de inglés, pero no sabe hablarlo correctamente. (He may even be an English teacher, but he can’t speak it correctly.)

Eso es todo por hoy, mi gente. Nos vemos prontito.

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About the Author: Adir

English / Spanish teacher and translator for over 20 years. I have been blogging since 2007 and I am also a professional singer in my spare time.