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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?

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You might find the 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


El "futuro simple de subjuntivo" es un tiempo verbal cuya función es expresar una acción que:

  • Aún no ocurre.
  • Hay alguna posibilidad de que ocurra en el futuro.

Estas características no son posibles de expresar por ningún otro tiempo verbal de manera directa, y para acercarse a ello, necesitarían algunos adverbios o adicionales o simplemente hacer uso del contexto de la oración.

Debido a las características de este tiempo verbal, es ampliamente usado en textos legales y documentos, debido a que ellos necesitan ser tan precisos y concisos como sea posible (entre otros requisitos, por supuesto).

No es utilizado ampliamente en el habla común, y a veces es visto en novelas y otros textos escritos.

A veces es confundido con el "pretérito simple de subjuntivo" porque tienen terminaciones similares:

  • Trabajare (futuro simple de subjuntivo)
  • Trabajase / Trabajara (pretérito simple de subjuntivo)

La importancia de este tiempo verbal puede ser apreciada al comparar las siguientes oraciones (ejemplo tomado desde:

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

En la primera, se puede ver claramente el hecho que no es seguro que el rey sea asesinado, es sólo una posibilidad. Pero en la segunda, podemos leer que el rey sí será asesinado, tarde o temprano.

He usado el "futuro simple de subjuntivo" porque hay otro tiempo verbal llamado "futuro perfecto de subjuntivo" que se forma con la ayuda del verbo haber:

  • Trabajare (futuro simple de subjuntivo)
  • Hubiere trabajado (futuro perfecto de subjuntivo)


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)

The importance of this verbal tense may be expressed comparing the following sentences (example taken from

  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)
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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).

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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 Rincón Fadul Nov 18 '11 at 12:17

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