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—¿Qué vas a hacer el viernes por la mañana? —El viernes por la mañana voy a cocinar. —¿Qué harás el viernes por la mañana? —El viernes por la mañana cocinaré. / PUBLIC DOMAIN

In Spanish, there are two main ways of speaking in the future tense:


Option 1: ir a + infinitive

This verbal periphrasis is very easy to build: we only have to conjugate verb ir in the present tense followed by preposition a, and then add the action verb we want to use in its infinitive form:

Voy a cantar

Vas a salir

Vamos a cocinar

Van a ducharse


Option 2: Futuro Simple

We have, however, an actual future tense in Spanish:






















Notice how the future tense suffixes are added after the infinitive of the verb (we don’t drop the -ar, -er or -ir endings like we do in the present and past tenses). The suffixes are the same for all three regular verb models.


So when are we supposed to use option 1, and when are we supposed to use option 2?

Well, here is the thing: both options are practically identical. They have the same temporal value.


Spanish (Option 1)

Spanish (Option 2)

He is going to be there.

Él va a estar allí.

Él estará allí.

We’ll see.

Vamos a ver.


I’m going to the opera on Friday.

Voy a ir a la ópera el viernes.

Iré a la ópera el viernes.

I’ll bring you some coffee.

Te voy a traer un poco de café.

Te traeré un poco de café.

There is, however, a very subtle cognitive difference between option 1 and option 2: the latter sounds a little more formal, and a little further in the future, while the former sounds more familiar and a little bit more certain. That said, in informal conversation, we tend to use option 1 much more than option 2 on most situations. In formal writing, however, option 2 is usually preferred, although option 1 is still perfectly correct and usable.


Option 3: Presente

There is actually a third way of speaking in the future tense in Spanish: we can just use the present tense in conjunction with a future time clause. This is a little bit colloquial, and, although it has the same temporal value as options 1 and 2, it has a much higher degree of certainty. When using this option, we present future events as facts, and not plans or hypotheses.

Construcciones estándar

Construcción coloquial y factual

El sábado que viene iré a Long Island / El sábado que viene voy a ir a Long Island.

El sábado que viene voy a Long Island.

El viernes empezaré un trabajo nuevo / El viernes voy a empezar un trabajo nuevo.

El viernes empiezo un trabajo nuevo.

El año que viene me voy a graduar / El año que viene me graduaré.

El año que viene me gradúo.

¿Estarás en Madrid este verano? / ¿Vas a estar en Madrid este verano?

¿Estás en Madrid este verano?


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