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How to put any Spanish verb in the future

Let’s learn how to use Ir to mean “going to”. This is how we can put any verb in the future, simply by using our conjugations of Ir along with an infinitive.

Full Podcast Episode


We’re gonna do some really cool things with Ir today.

Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.

Yesterday, when we started practicing voy, va, vas, van, and vamos, I mentioned that these words can sometimes be translated as either “I go” or “I am going”, “she goes” or “she is going”, and so on.

Let’s look at a specific situation in English where we would use this phrasing:

I am going to do something.

What is this sentence? Am I actually going somewhere? If we look closely at it, we can see that we’re not going anywhere; instead, we’re actually using the phrase “I am going” to indicate doing something in the future. Here’s another example:

She is going to be here.

I’m not saying that she’s going anywhere; instead, it’s understood in English that “going to”, when followed by another verb, means that we’re putting that verb in the future.

Well, I’ve got great news for you. You CAN do this in Spanish as well! You will use one of your five conjugations of Ir, and then you’ll put a after it, and then add any infinitive. Let’s try this with Hacer. To say “I am going to do”, you say voy a hacer.

“He/she/it is going to do” is va a hacer.

“You are going to do” is vas a hacer.

“They are going to do” is van a hacer.

“We are going to do” is vamos a hacer.

Now, this is extremely handy, because we can replace Hacer with the name of any other verb to put it in the future. Let’s go ahead and practice this right now with some very simple examples.

You are going to be here.

Vas a estar aquí.

He is going to be my friend.

Él va a ser mi amigo.

You’re going to do something.

Vas a hacer algo.

We’re going to be here.

Vamos a estar aquí.

They’re going to be friends(f).

Van a ser amigas.

So in all of these cases, the meaning of what’s going on doesn’t actually come from Ir; it comes from the verb that Ir is modifying. When I say van a ser amigas, I’m not saying that anyone is actually “going” anywhere, just that they’re “going to be friends”. So basically, we can say that Ir has two different meanings: It CAN refer to going somewhere, but it can also be used as an auxiliary verb to put another verb in the future.

Of course, we’ve worked with other auxiliary verbs as well; Haber is used to put another verb in the past, using its participle, as in lo hemos hecho. And Estar can be used along with another verb’s gerund to place emphasis on a specific moment, such as “she was doing it”: lo estaba haciendo. In each case, the auxiliary verb is conjugated, and then the verb that actually gives meaning to the sentence uses some sort of unconjugated form.

Now here’s something fun. We can actually put Ir in the future by using this trick. We’ll first conjugate Ir, then add the word a, then use the infinitive, Ir. For example, van a ir or vas a ir. Try it yourself in these next two examples:

I’m going to go to that place.

Voy a ir a ese lugar.

We’re going to go to the house.

Vamos a ir a la casa.

Now let’s make it a little more complicated. Remember that when we use Haber to put things in the past, we normally use the present tense form of Haber, as in ha sido for “he has been”. But we’re also allowed to put things in the past of the past, using the past tense of Haber, as in había sido (literally “he had been”).

We can do the same thing with Ir to put things in the future of the past. To show why this is important, compare these two sentences in English:

I am going to be at the place.

I was going to be at the place.

In the first sentence, I’m using “going” to refer to the future. But in the second sentence, I’m referencing something that was going to be the case. That’s the future of the past.

Of course, to make this work in Spanish, we’re going to have to learn some past-tense forms of Ir, specifically the imperfect past tense. These are all based on the word iba, spelled I-B-A. The basic form, iba, can mean “he was going”, “she was going”, “it was going”, or “I was going”. The rest of the forms can easily be derived from our normal verb patterns, so see if you can predict them.

How do you think you say “they were going”? …iban.

What about “you were going”? …ibas.

And how about “we were going”? …that’s íbamos, with an accent mark over the letter I. Íbamos.

Here are a couple of examples:

They were going to do something.

Iban a hacer algo.

See if you can predict how to say this one.

He was going to be here.

Iba a estar aquí.

We were going to be friends(m).

Íbamos a ser amigos.

Now, you actually can use these imperfect forms of Ir to refer to going somewhere, but for the purposes of this episode, we’re only going to use these verbs to create the future of the past. In tomorrow’s episode we’ll talk about other ways you can put Ir itself in the past.

Before we go on to today’s quiz, let’s enhance the variety of our sentences by learning three more adverbs.

Now that we’ve begun learning action verbs, we can add color to the actions by using adverbs that describe how things are being done. Adverbs can add many different types of description; for example, aquí describes where something is done, and más can describe how much something is done.

Imagine we’re working with a single sentence, “I have done it”, or lo he hecho. We can add information about where it is by adding “here” to the end.

For exoample, I have done it here adds the information “here” to the end.

Lo he hecho aquí.

I have done it more.

Lo he hecho más.

Adverbs can also describe the way something is done. We’ve already learned one of these adverbs, the word bien, which means “well”.

I have done it well.

Lo he hecho bien.

The opposite of this is mal, which means “badly”.

I have done it badly.

Lo he hecho mal.

The words bien and mal are pretty simple judgments as to how something is being done. Let’s also learn some general-purpose words that can add even more description. One of the handiest is the word así, which means “this way”.

I have done it this way.

Lo he hecho así.

This word is spelled A-S-I, with an accent mark over the I. It can actually be translated into English in a variety of ways: “this way”, “that way”, “like this”, or “like that”. An antiquated way of translating it is “thus”, when “thus” is used as an adverb. But let’s use a quick quiz to practice translating it from some common translations.

They’re doing it like that.

Lo están haciendo así.

I go to the place like this.

Voy al lugar así.

I don’t want to do this like that.

No I want hacer esto así.

No quiero hacer esto así.

The adverb así is pretty special in how many different ways it can be used. You can even use it along with Ser to describe not how someone is doing something, but how someone is as a person, as a part of their identity. For example:

They are that way.

Ellos son así.

Our last word is como, which means something like “like” or “as”. This is another adverb used to describe how something is done, but it comes with some complications. What’s weird about como is that it can’t be used by itself, like ya, aquí, bien, and mal. But also, como is not used to modify adjectives and adverbs, as muy is. Instead, it’s kind of in a category of its own. Como is generally used before either a noun or an entire sentence.

The easiest way to think about como is that it’s translated as the English word “as”, specifically when “as” is used as an adverb.

Here’s a simple example.

I have gone to the place, as you know.

Yo he ido al lugar, como tú know.

Yo he ido al lugar, como tú sabes.

Let’s break this sentence down. There are two full clauses or complete sentences here: “I have gone to the place” and “you know”. But they’re sort of joined together by the word como. Normally this is the role of a conjunction, but como is not considered a conjunction.

Another example is:

He has done it as I have done it.

Él lo ha hecho como yo lo he hecho.

In this case we’re comparing the way that things are done. So the whole phrase that starts with como is a description of how he has done it. We could instead use así; compare these two sentences.

Él lo ha hecho así.

Él lo ha hecho como yo lo he hecho.

Now here’s a fun thing we can do with como: Instead of saying this whole long sentence, “he has done it as I have done it”, we can simply say “he has done it as I”, or Él lo ha hecho como yo.

Él lo ha hecho como yo.

Of course in English, we rarely say anything as awkward as “he has done it as I”; instead, we say “he has done it like me.” So the fact is that como is often translated as “like” in English. For example, check out this sentence:

Those houses are like these.

Esas casas son como estas.

But we have to be really careful about starting to think of como simply as “like”, because that can lead to dangerous mistranslations; the word “like” is translated in all kinds of different ways into Spanish. It only means “like” when the word “like” could be replaced with “as”, so when in doubt, try the “as” test.

But there’s also a complication on the flip side: In English, we use the word “as” in multiple different ways. Take this sentence for example: “I did it as he did it.” This can actually mean two different things: “I did it LIKE he did it” or “I did it WHILE he did it”. The word como only refers to the former meaning of the word “as”; there’s a different word for “while”. So when you use como to mean “as”, remember that it never means “while”. Instead, it means something between “as” and “like”. So when in doubt, perform the “like” test.

In summary, como means “as” or “like”, specifically when either of those could be translated as the other one. Let’s practice with some sentence examples.

I have gone to the house, like she.

He ido a la casa, como ella.

They are doing it as he is doing it.

Lo están haciendo como él lo está haciendo.

Let’s practice our new adverbs, along with everything we’ve learned about Ir, using today’s final quiz.

I had done it like that.

Lo había hecho así.

They are going towards that house.

Están yendo towards esa casa.

Están yendo hacia esa casa.

By that day, she will have done that.

Para ese día, ella habrá hecho eso.

We are going to do what you want us to do.

Vamos a hacer lo que you want que we do.

Vamos a hacer lo que quieres que hagamos.

They are going to do that badly.

Van a hacer eso mal.

I’m going that day but they(f) aren’t going.

Yo voy ese día pero ellas no van.

They had done it like her.

Lo habían hecho como ella.

You were going to be a good guy like him.

Ibas a ser un buen chico como él.

You(formal) aren’t going to go to the opera.

Usted no va a ir a the opera.

Usted no va a ir a la ópera.

That time, you all were going to be in that place.

Esa vez, ustedes iban a estar en ese lugar.

But she was going to make something.

Pero iba a hacer algo.

You all aren’t here, that’s why we are going to the place.

Ustedes no están aquí, por eso vamos al lugar.

You hadn’t told me that.

No me habías told eso.

No me habías dicho eso.

I hadn’t done it, but I was going to do it.

No lo había hecho, pero lo iba a hacer.

You aren’t going to the party?

¿No vas a the party?

¿No vas a la fiesta?

You’re going to do what I’m telling you.

Vas a hacer lo que te I’m telling.

Vas a hacer lo que te digo.

We were going to be here.

Íbamos a estar aquí.

We hadn’t gone by that path.

No habíamos ido por that path.

No habíamos ido por ese camino.

I’m not going to be that girl anymore.

Ya no voy a ser esa chica.

Get more practice with all of this using the transcript and flashcards at LCSPodcast.com/43.

Tomorrow we’re going to learn the rest of our essential conjugations of Ir, including the preterite, the subjunctive, and the future.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Michael Agudelo. Our music was provided by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

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