The Future Tense in Spanish Using the Present (Say What!?)
I don’t know about you, but I love dreaming and making plans. Daydreaming is quite possibly my favorite pastime, and I talk about my hopes for the future all the time. A lot of our culture is about planning for the future—saving money, getting an education for a good job, outlining 5 and 10-year plans. We are always looking towards the future, which is why learning the future tense in Spanish is one of your priorities right now!
3 Future Tenses in Spanish
With this blog post, we are going to go over a tense that is technically not a future tense but is commonly used as such: using the simple present tense!
The Simple Present Tense
Yes, you read that correctly. We often use the simple present to talk about future plans! You are likely all caught up on the present tense, but just in case you need a refresher, here is an at-a-glance conjugation table for your enjoyment:
Conjugating the Present Simple Tense
|-AR Verbs||-ER Verbs||-IR Verbs|
How Do I Use the Present to Discuss the Future?
There is one big idea that encompasses the uses of the simple present as a Spanish future tense: set plans.
When it’s Set in Stone
Whenever we have a plan completely established, we can use the present simple. Think of it this way:
If you got accepted to college for the coming fall and you finally have everything packed, all the paperwork is done, and financial aid is set up, you would say it was certain you were going. Of course, things happen that can’t be foreseen. However, based on what we know and what we can plan, everything is set for you to go to college. How would you express your plans for the fall?
“I will go to college in a couple of months” or “I’m going to college in a couple of months.”
Don’t Use the Present Continuous
More than likely, you would use the second sentence as it expresses much more certainty. Wait, though. That’s the present continuous, not the present simple!
It’s important to note that we often use the present simple in Spanish when we would use the present continuous in English.
What’s the Difference in English and Spanish?
The present continuous in Spanish is used for things happening in this exact moment, while the English present continuous extends to plans we have in the future.
Vamos a Colombia en enero.
We’re going to Colombia in January.
Voy a la universidad en el otoño.
I’m going to college in the fall.
Can you see how these are set plans in the future? We often express this idea in English with the present continuous, but in Spanish it would be the present simple.
What are the similarities in English and Spanish?
There is yet another way to translate the presente simple into English.
Ella se casa el 17 de diciembre.
She gets married on December 17th.
Woah! We’re using the simple present in both English and Spanish! Sometimes it makes sense to use the simple present in English for things in the future. Here, we are looking at an event completely set in stone – the venue is booked, the caterer hired, the dress bought. Everything is set up and she is definitely getting married.
The Key to the Future Tense in Spanish Using the Present
Using the presente simple to express things in the future is pretty straightforward in Spanish: use it to talk about set plans. However, the trick is not to translate directly from English to Spanish as it will certainly confuse your use of tenses!
Try Your Luck Today
To help you in this process, try a FREE trial class with one of our native Spanish-speaking teachers. Practice your future tenses with them and have trial conversations! ¡Aprende más!
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