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The Spanish "Near Future" Tense

The Spanish near future tense is an alternative to the traditional future tense in Spanish. If you haven't yet learned to conjugate the future tense in Spanish or find it difficult, we recommend using the near future tense in Spanish, which is expressed with a simple formula that we'll teach you today.

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Present Indicative Conjugation of Ir

Since the near future tense in Spanish is most commonly (but not always!) seen in the present indicative tense, it will behoove you to make sure you know the present indicative conjugation of the verb ir. Let's take a look:

 

Subject Pronoun Present Conjugation of Ir
yo voy
vas
él, ella, usted va
nosotros/as vamos
vosotros/as vais
ellos/as, ustedes van

 

Formula for the Spanish Near Future Tense

Now that we've recalled the present indicative conjugation of ir, let's take a look at the formula for the Spanish near future tense, which is ir + a + infinitive. As ir means "to go," and a can mean "to," you can think of the Spanish near future tense as "to be going to" do something. Let's see some examples:

 

¡Abuelo, no vas a creer lo que te voy a contar

Grandpa, you aren't going to believe what I'm going to tell you!

Caption 9, Guillermina y Candelario El Mejor Columpio

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y ellos nos van a dar un poco de información. 

and they are going to give us a bit of information.

Caption 4, El Aula Azul Los profesores de la escuela - Part 2

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Entonces, hoy vamos a hablar de la familia. 

So, today we are going to talk about family.

Caption 1, Curso de español Vamos a hablar de la familia

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Sidenote:

The first person plural form vamos a + infinitive can also be an alternative for the nosotros/as command form, which is the equivalent of "Let's" [do something] in English. We see this in the popular expression Vamos a ver (Let's see):

 

Así que, vamos a ver de qué se trata.

So, let's see what it is.

Caption 6, Ana Carolina Receta para una picada

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That said, although there may be some cases in which it is difficult to determine whether a Spanish sentence with vamos a + infinitive is intended to mean "we're going to" or "let's," in most cases, context should make this clear.  

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When to Use the Spanish Near Future Tense

Technically, the Spanish near future tense is intended for events that are imminent rather than in the distant future, and for that reason, it is quite often accompanied by words like ahora (now) or hoy (today), as in the following examples:

 

y hoy les voy a dar siete consejos prácticos para mejorar su pronunciación en español.

and today I'm going to give you seven practical tips to improve your pronunciation in Spanish.

Captions 4-5, Ana Carolina Mejorando la pronunciación

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Muy bien. Pues ahora, vais a practicar más.

Very good. Well, now you're going to practice more.

Caption 39, Clase Aula Azul La segunda condicional - Part 7

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Having said that, the near future tense is extremely common to hear in spoken Spanish (probably more so than the traditional future tense) and will often be heard describing events with a vaguer or more distant timeline:

 

Y algún día voy a ser la voz líder de mi banda, los Equis seis.

And someday, I'm going to be the lead singer of my band, the X6 [Ex Six].

Caption 11, X6 1 - La banda - Part 1

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For this reason, as the traditional future and near future tenses are virtually equivalent in terms of meaning, you should feel free to use this near future tense "hack" in virtually any situation in which you wish to describe an action in the future. 

 

Expressing the Near Future in the Past

So, what if, rather than saying you "are going to" do something, you wish to say that, at a certain moment in the past, you "were going to" perform an action? You would do so by using the near future tense, but conjugating the infinitive ir in the Spanish imperfect tense. Let's take a look at it:

 

Subject Pronoun Imperfect Conjugation of Ir
yo iba
ibas
él, ella, usted iba
nosotros/as íbamos
vosotros/as ibais
ellos/as, ustedes iban

 

Now, let's see some examples:

 

Llegué al examen muy contenta porque sabía que iba a aprobar.

I got to the exam very happy because I knew I was going to pass.

Captions 64-65, Los casos de Yabla El examen - Part 1

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Te dije que íbamos a hacer ejercicio.

I told you we were going to exercise.

Caption 67, Cleer y Lida Los números

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Sidenotes: 

1. Be aware that this same construction could be used to indicate something one "used to go do" in the past, for example, "En el verano, yo iba a nadar a la piscina" ("In summer, I'd go to swim at the pool"). Context will usually tell you which meaning is intended.

 

2. For the past version of the near future tense, remember to use the imperfect, or ongoing past tense, rather than the Spanish preterite tense, which would indicate that something already happened (E.g. Yo fui a nadar a la piscina = I went to swim at the pool). 

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Quiz on the Near Future Tense

Let's conclude today's lesson with a little quiz. Taking a few examples of the traditional future tense from our library, see if you can convert them to the present indicative form of the near future tense. Try to do them yourself prior to looking at the answers.

 

Future Tense:

No, abuelito. ¡Hoy haré el salto más alto del mundo! 

No, Grandpa. Today I'll do the world's highest jump!

Caption 12, Guillermina y Candelario Una Amiga muy Presumida - Part 1

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Near Future Tense: 

No, abuelito. ¡Hoy voy a hacer el salto más alto del mundo!

No, Grandpa. Today I'm going to do the world's highest jump!)

 

Future Tense: 

Sin embargo de esto hablaremos en la próxima lección. 

However, we will talk about this in the next lesson.

Caption 51, Carlos explica Diminutivos y Aumentativos Cap 1: Los sufijos

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Near Future Tense: 

Sin embargo de esto vamos a hablar en la próxima lección

However, we're going to talk about this in the next lesson.

 

Future Tense:

Verán que mañana el estadio estará lleno.

You guys will see that tomorrow the stadium will be full.

Caption 45, Carlos explica Tuteo, ustedeo y voseo: Ustedes y vosotros

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Near Future Tense: 

Van a ver que mañana el estadio va a estar lleno.

You guys are going to see that tomorrow the stadium is going to be full.

 

That's all for today. We hope that this lesson has helped you to feel more confident using the Spanish near future tense, which can come in quite handy when talking about your plans... and don't forget to write us with your suggestions and comments.

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