Take the 2-minute tour ×
Spanish Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Spanish language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've heard that there used to be another tense in Spanish called the "future-subjunctive"

¡A donde fueres, haz lo que vieres!

I've heard the above means in a literal sense, "to where you will go, do what you will see", so I assume that this tense is a sort of subjunctive for things that haven't happened yet.

Is this an accurate description? How was this tense used and how has its usage been replaced in modern Spanish? Why was it deemed necessary to add to the language?

share|improve this question
You might find the about.com article interesting. –  Richard Nov 16 '11 at 23:24
While "future" is a tense, "subjunctive" is a mood, so we should be careful about this kind of thing when tagging or we could end up with a kind of tag soup. –  hippietrail Nov 17 '11 at 9:11
Hmm having "subjunctive" and "verb-tenses" is inconsistent. "Subjunctive" is a specific case of one of the "verb moods" but "verb tenses" is the category of which the "future tense" is one member. Since only verbs have tense why not shorten "verb-tenses" to "tense"? Well that's just for starters because it would still be inconsistent (-: –  hippietrail Nov 18 '11 at 10:41

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The "simple future subjunctive" is a verbal tense whose function is to express some action that:

  • Hasn't happened yet.
  • There's some possibility that it will happen in the future.

These features aren't expressed by any other verbal tense in a direct way, and in order to approach to it, they should need some additional adverbs or just simply use the context of the sentence.

Due to the features of this verbal tense, it is widely used by legal texts and documents, cause they need to be as precise and concise as possible (among other requirements, of course).

It is not widely used in common speech, and is seldom used in novels and other written texts.

Sometimes it's confused with "simple preterit subjunctive" (pretérito simple de subjuntivo) because they have similar endings:

  • Trabajare (simple future subjunctive)
  • Trabajase / Trabajara (simple preterit subjunctive)

As an example of the importance of this verbal tense may be expressed comparing the following sentences (example taken from http://www.delcastellano.com):

  1. El que matare al rey [...] será castigado [...]
  2. El que mate al rey [...] será castigado [...]

In the first one, we may see clearly that the fact of the King being killed is not sure, it's just a possibility. But in the second one, we may read that the king will be killed, for sure sooner or later.

I've used "simple future subjunctive" (futuro simple de subjuntivo), because there is another verbal tense called "perfect future subjunctive" (futuro perfecto de subjuntivo) that is formed with the help of the verb haber:

  • Trabajare (simple future subjunctive)
  • Hubiere trabajado (perfect future subjunctive)
share|improve this answer

Future subjunctive is deprecated but not unused. See for example legal documents.

If you are writing a legal statement for the winner of the lottery you could write something like:

Aquel que haya comprado la boleta cuyo número es el número resultado del sorteo, será el ganador.

Wich translates: one who buy the ticket with the winner number will be the winner.

I don't see a strictly need that force its use but again, its commonly used (to clarify and enforce a conditional future).

share|improve this answer
Should your example have future subjunctive or the absence of it? –  Joze Nov 17 '11 at 9:34
I think you tried to say: "Aquel que hubiere comprado la boleta cuyo número sea ...". Anyway, it isn't future subjunctive but perfect future subjunctive (see my answer to this same question). –  Nicolás Nov 17 '11 at 16:31
Ok Nicolás, thanks for the rectification :) –  Randolf R-F Nov 18 '11 at 12:17

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.