How to Express the Future Tense in Spanish Using Ir a - My Daily Spanish
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How to Express the Future Tense in Spanish Using Ir a

In this article, you’re going to find out how to express the future tense in Spanish using a neat little construction: ‘ir a + infinitive.’

Two Types of Future Tense in Spanish

In Spanish, there are two forms of the future tense. One of them, the “proper” future tense, is a little more complicated and is explained in a separate article. It’s formed by finding a stem from the infinitive of the verb, then adding the appropriate future tense endings.

The form that we’ll look at in this lesson is simpler! It’s used as an informal version of the future tense, and, in spoken Spanish, it’s used way more than the proper future tense. Use this when you’re speaking Spanish, and you’ll sound like a pro in no time! 

It’s also used to express firm intention, e.g. ¡Voy a lograrlo! (I will manage it!)

How to Form the Informal Future Tense in Spanish

Believe it or not, this is one of the simplest Spanish verb tenses to form. All you have to do is:

  1. 1
    Conjugate the verb ir (‘to go’) in the present tense.
  2. 2
    Add the word a (‘to’).
  3. 3
    Add the infinitive of whichever verb you want to use!

So for this tense, the only thing you need to know how to conjugate is the verb ir. Here’s how to do it in the present tense:

(yo) voy(nosotros/as) vamos
(tú) vas(vosotros/as) vais
(él/ella/usted) va(ellos/ellas/ustedes) van

So, ‘voy a hacer algo’ means ‘I am going to do something.’

Time to see some more examples.

Voy a cocinar.I am going to cook.
Voy a viajar por el mundo.I’m going to travel the world.
¿Cuándo vas a devolverme el dinero?When are you going to give me my money back?
No vas a olvidarme.You won’t forget me.
Manuela va a aprobar el examen. Estoy seguro.Manuela is going to pass the exam. I’m sure of it.
Usted va a tener acceso a todas partes del museo.You (formal) will have access to all parts of the museum.
Vamos a ser famosos.We’re going to be famous.
Vamos a ver.Let’s see (literally: we are going to see).
¿Vais a venir a la fiesta?Are you (plural) going to come to the party?
Vais a casaros este fin de semana, ¿verdad?You (plural) are getting married tomorrow, right?
Los edificios viejos van a ser destruidos.The old buildings are going to be destroyed.
Ustedes van a quedarse en el mejor hotel de la ciudad.You (formal plural) are going to stay in the best hotel in the city.

Using the Future in the Past

Okay, so “using the future in the past” sounds a bit crazy, but it will make sense with some examples. 

Imagine you want to say ‘I was going to study but I forgot.’ (Haven’t we all been there? Forgot, got distracted, fell asleep...) You’ll need to put ir in the imperfect tense (‘I was going to …’)

We use the same rules as earlier:

  1. 1
    Conjugate the verb ir (‘to go’) but this time in the imperfect tense.
  2. 2
    Add the word a (‘to’).
  3. 3
    Add the infinitive of whichever verb you want to use!

Here’s how to conjugate ir in the imperfect tense:

(yo) iba(nosotros/as) íbamos
(tú) ibas(vosotros/as) ibais
(él/ella/usted) iba(ellos/ellas/ustedes) iban

So, in our accidentally-forgetting-to-study example:

  1. 1
    Iba
  2. 2
    a
  3. 3
    estudiar

Simple as that.

Iba a estudiar pero se me olvidó.I was going to study but I forgot.
¿No ibas a estudiar hoy?Weren’t you going to study today?
El agresor iba a golpearme así que le di una patada entre las piernas.The attacker was going to hit me so I kicked him between the legs.
Cantaremos en la obra. Prometimos que íbamos a hacerlo.We will sing in the show. We promised that we would (were going to) do so.
Ibais a leer mi libro, ¿no?You were going to read my book, weren’t you?
Los dos iban a renunciar al amor, pero todo cambió en cuanto se conocieron.Both of them were going to give up on love, but everything changed as soon as they met each other.

¡Ojo! (Beware!)

When you see an ir a construction, don’t just assume it’s a future tense. For example, if it’s ‘ir a + place name’ rather than ‘ir a + infinitive’ then it’s just talking about going somewhere. When you come across it in text, the context should make it clear what’s going on.

These examples aren’t examples of the future tense, even though they contain voy a.
Voy a China el mes que viene.I’m going to China next month.
Voy a una reunión.I’m going to a meeting.

Quiz

Today’s quiz has a few different sections. Feel free to pick and choose, or go ahead and try them all!

Multiple choice

For the following sentences, choose the appropriate form of the verb ir. This exercise should help you memorize the ir conjugations.

1. Fuiste mi primer amor. No _ a olvidarte nunca. (You were my first love. I’ll never forget you.)

     a. vas

     b. voy

     c. vamos

Click to reveal the correct answer:

2. ¡Creo que _ a ganar el concurso! (I think they’re going to win the competition!)

     a. van

     b. vais

     c. voy

Click to reveal the correct answer:

3. En ese momento, creí que _ a ganar. Pero al final perdieron. (In that moment, I thought they were going to win. But in the end they lost.)

     a. íbamos

     b. van

     c. iban

Click to reveal the correct answer:

4. Cariño, ¡bájate de ahí! Si no, te _ a caer. (Sweetie, get down from there! Otherwise you’re gonna fall.)

     a. vais

     b. vas

     c. vamos

Click to reveal the correct answer:

5. _ a visitarme en el hospital. ¿Por qué no vinisteis al final? (You were going to visit me in the hospital. Why didn’t you come in the end?)

     a. Iban

     b. Vas

     c. Ibais

Click to reveal the correct answer:

6. Madre, ¡creo que Eric _ a proponerme matrimonio! (Mother, I think Eric is going to propose to me!)

     a. voy

     b. vas

     c. va

Click to reveal the correct answer:

7. Desafortunadamente, _ a tener que mentir. (Unfortunately, we’re going to have to lie.)

     a. íbamos

     b. van

     c. vamos

Click to reveal the correct answer:

8. Kiki _ a bailar y yo _ a cantar. Pero se canceló el concurso de talentos. (Kiki was going to dance and I was going to sing. But the talent show got cancelled.)

     a. iba, iba

     b. va, iba

     c. iba, va

Click to reveal the correct answer:

9. Chicos, ¿cuántas limonadas _ a pedir? (Guys, how many lemonades are you going to order?)

     a. voy

     b. vais

     c. vas

Click to reveal the correct answer:

Spanish to English translation

In this section, try translating the Spanish to English. This’ll get you thinking. There’s a glossary here in case you need it:

bailarto dance
beberto drink
aguawater
venirto come
EspañaSpain

1. Voy a bailar.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

2. Vas a beber agua.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

3. Paul va a venir a España.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

English to Spanish translation

Now have a go at translating from English into Spanish. This one should really get you thinking! Here’s some vocab that you might need:

to speak withhablar con
to watch the filmver la película
the truth is thatla verdad es que
to lastdurar
as a couplecomo pareja

1. We are going to speak with Ana.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

2. Are you (informal plural) going to watch the film?

Click to reveal the correct answer:

3. The truth is that they’re not going to last as a couple.

Click to reveal the correct answer:

Ibas a estudiar … ¡y lo hiciste! (You were going to study … and you did!)

We hope you’ve learnt something new from this article. Have fun practicing with this form of the future tense! Remember that, in spoken Spanish, it’s much more common than the proper future tense (but learn both anyway, like a boss.)

About the Author Annabel Beilby

Annabel is a language-enthusiast from the UK. She studied Spanish and French at the University of Southampton (with an Erasmus study year in Madrid!) and recently graduated. She has interests across the Spanish-speaking world, and is a fan of language in general.

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