The Spanish Periphrastic Future Tense
How to talk about what you're going to do
The term periphrastic future tense is simply a way of saying that the verb is expressed by more than one word – a verb phrase. English has a periphrastic future tense also. We use it all the time when we say such sentences as these:
I am going to eat soon.
She is going to drive to the beach.
We are going to leave this afternoon.
In the examples above, the periphrastic future tense consists of the forms of the verb to be, conjugated according to the subjects (I, she and we), plus the gerund going followed by the infinitives to eat, to drive and to leave.
This structure in Spanish is commonly known as the ir + a + infinitive. Just as the English verb to be needs to be conjugated to correspond to its subject, as in the examples above, the Spanish verb ir (to go) must be conjugated in the present tense to correspond to its subject. This verb is irregular:
The preposition a is not translatable in this structure, but it needs to be there. And the infinitive, whatever it is, remains an infinitive, just as in English. That is, in this construction, only the verb ir is conjugated, just as only the verb to be is conjugated in its English counterpart.
As far as usage is concerned, you’ll be glad to know that it is used exactly as its English counterpart, the one that English speakers in the USA nearly always pronounce as gunna…!
Let’s translate the English examples above into Spanish. Notice, in passing, that when the subject can only be one person and number because of the verb form, the subject does not to be stated. Click on these sentences to hear them:
1. Voy a comer pronto.
2. Ella va a manejar a la playa.
3. Vamos a salir esta tarde.
Speaking of lunch, perhaps you are interested in trying Aztec recipes.
¿Vas a comer pronto? ¡Espero que sí!
For practice with the periphrastic future, please go to the exercises on the next page. After you have finished Set A, check your work with its corresponding answer key, below. Then proceed in like manner through the next two sets of exercises.
¡Buena suerte, amigos!