The Future in Spanish: Futuro Próximo/Idiomático
Before you get started on this blog, this is part 2. Check out the futuro simple blog here if you haven’t already!
What are you going to do today? What are you going to do this summer/weekend? What are you going to do about it?
How many times have you heard these questions or asked them? Our plans and intentions for the future make up a larger part of our daily conversations. Make sure you can talk about these big ideas and plans in your budding second language, Spanish!
‘Going to’ Future
What is it?
Now that we’ve mastered the futuro simple, it’s time to move onto the futuro próximo, or the futuro idiomático. I would argue that this is much more commonly used in Spanish (at least where I live), and quite possibly in English.
If you remember the structure of the futuro simple, it involved a lot of new endings and accents. Luckily for you, the futuro próximo doesn’t have any new endings! This is a great thing because once you get the formula down, you won’t have to memorize any new verbs endings!
Firstly, let’s look at an example in English.
I am going to call you later.
If we make a formula out of this, it would look like the following:
Pronoun + conjugation of ‘to be’ in present simple + going + to + verb
If you are familiar with some different tenses, you may notice that we use the present continuous to create this future form in English. We can write the formula this way:
Pronoun + present continuous + infinitive verb
If you may recall, the present continuous forms in English and Spanish are very comparable:
I am eating.
Yo estoy comiendo.
However, the uses of the present simple and present continuous are NOT the same in English and Spanish. Before we go any further, we need to talk about these differences.
Present Simple vs. Present Continuous
In English, we use the present simple for habitual things and permanent situations (among other more complex situations that we can explore later). For example:
I go to school every day.
We eat cereal every Sunday for breakfast.
She goes to Spain every summer.
He likes chocolate.
We use the present continuous for things we are doing in the moment (or in the close future).
I am studying right now.
We are going to the store.
Now, in Spanish, the present simple (presente simple) is not as limited. We still use if for habitual things and permanent situations, just like in English, but it is more extensive than that. For example:
Voy a la tienda. – I am going to the store (soon).
Here, we don’t say Estoy yendo a la tienda in Spanish, unless you are actually on your way, and even then, it is more common in many areas to say ‘voy’ instead of ‘yendo.’
Even when you want to ask someone what they are doing right now, you can ask them ¿Qué haces? (presente simple) or ¿Qué estás haciendo? (presente continuo). You would generally respond using the present continuous, but the fact that you can use the present simple to talk about an action happening right now is very important to note.
Let’s take this all back to our future tense, el futuro idiomático.
I am going to call you later.
Would you say Estoy yendo a llamarte más tarde? No. Estoy yendo implies current movement, and if you remember, it is not as common as just saying ‘voy.’ So, when we’re talking about something we are going to do soon, we need to use ‘voy.’
Te voy a llamar más tarde.
What you need to remember is that while the present continuous is used to express things happening soon in English, we used the presente simple to express the same idea in Spanish.
Salimos en 5 minutos. – We’re leaving in 5 minutes.
Therefore, if you carry that logic through that we use the presente simple for future events, we must use the presente simple to form the futuro idiomático. Let’s look at our previous example.
I’m going to call you later.
Te voy a llamar más tarde.
Can you make a formula for the futuro idiomático?
Present simple conjugation of ir + a + infinitive verb
- Always use the present simple conjugations of the verb ir.
- Always include the word a between ir and the infinitive verb.
- An infinitive verb in Spanish is one that ends in -AR, -ER, and -IR.
If you already have the present simple conjugations of the verb ir memorized, then this form will be very easy for you! If not, you can use this following chart to refresh your memory:
You have everything you need to form the futuro próximo. But…when should you use it?
When do we use it?
Lo voy a hacer ahorita. – I am going to do it right now (soon).
¿Vas a venir con nosotros? – Are you going to come with us?
If you are talking about what you are going to do shortly (ahorita), you need to use the futuro próximo. This could include things that you’re going to do in 5 minutes or 5 days – it all depends on your definition of ‘soon.’ Either way, the futuro próximo is the appropriate tense to use.
Vamos a ir de vacaciones a México en diciembre. – We’re going on vacation to Mexico in December.
Ella va a tener una fiesta el sábado. – She’s going to have a party on Saturday.
When we say plans here, we are talking about plans that are made but that might not be set in stone. This would be for plans that we are currently making. Maybe you haven’t yet bought your flight to Mexico yet, but you are looking for a cheap one. Maybe your friend hasn’t invited everyone to the party yet, but she marked it down in her calendar.
Lo voy a hacer mañana. – I’m going to do it tomorrow.
Voy a limpiar mi cuarto después. I’m going to clean my room later.
Intentions are like New Year’s goals – sometimes they happen, sometimes they don’t. Other times they happen, just not how we expected. Either way, we need to use the futuro próximo in Spanish to express things that we intend to do.
Did you notice how in every example, the English and Spanish tenses were equivalent? The ‘going to’ future in English is comparable in structure AND use to the futuro próximo in Spanish. This means that when you would use the ‘going to’ tense in English, more than likely, you need to use the futuro próximo in Spanish. This is good to keep in mind since you probably won’t remember the three uses of the futuro próximo I listed above in your next Spanish conversation.
Another thing to help you remember when to use the futuro próxmio is when you want to do something, but don’t have anything set in stone – in other words, tentative plans.
But wait! If you remember from our futuro simple blog, we said that you could use the futuro simple for your intentions. So…which do we use? The futuro simple or futuro próximo?
The answer is both. When it comes to our intentions, we can use either tense. They each have a slightly different connotation, or feel, to them which you will learn over time (or maybe you can already feel them in English). However, both are appropriate and completely acceptable when talking about your intentions. Don’t stress too much about deciding which future tense to use if you’re discussing your intentions!
Voy a practicar mi español más. – I’m going to practice my Spanish more.
Practicaré mi español más. – I will pracitce my Spanish more.
Vamos a hablar de eso después. – We’re going to talk about that later.
Hablaremos de eso después. – We will talk about that later.
Can you see how we can use both tenses when talking about our intentions – and they are very comparable to the English forms! That makes life a bit easier for you, right?
Of course, la práctica hace al maestro. To make sure you can use the futuro próximo with ease in your next Spanish conversation, check out our extra practice materials! You can find our video on all the future tenses in Spanish below. It is in Spanish, so it will give you extra practice! We also have a special PDF for you to test what you’ve learned in this blog. Don’t forget to check your answers with the answer key!
Even if you have everything memorized, it still may be hard to produce the futuro próximo fluently in conversation. If you would like help from a native Spanish speaker, try a FREE class with us! Our teachers would be more than happy to go over some of these rules or just have a practice conversation with you. Sign up today!