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In Spanish, the future tense is relatively simple.
It's just a matter of adding one of the following endings to the infinitive: -é, -ás, -á, -emos, -éis, -án.
A dozen irregulars (and compounds based on those) have slight changes in the stem.

However, I still get the set of endings (and sometimes the irregulars) confused with other tenses and wind up with low confidence or errors. Are there good mnemonics or pattern explanations that can help me remember?


Meta note: The Help Center on-topic page specifically says that "Problems encountered by people learning Spanish" are on-topic. It appears nothing is on-topic at Language Learning.SE, but if those pages are wrong I'd prefer migration over closure.

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Note the connections to the present perfect, in which the auxiliary verb haber has the following forms:

he, has, ha, hemos, habéis, han

Except for the vosotros form, these sound the same as the future tense endings:

-é, -ás, -á, -emos, -éis, -án.

(for {yo, tú, él/ella/usted, nosotros, vosotros, ellos/ellas/ustedes} respectively.)


The dozen future irregulars can be grouped:

Removing vowel in verb ending, replace with d:

poner -> yo pondré
salir -> yo saldré
tener -> yo tendré
venir -> yo vendré
valer -> yo valdré

Removing vowel in verb ending, no replacement because d or b is already present:

caber -> yo cabré
haber -> yo habré
poder -> yo podré
saber -> yo sabré

Other:

decir -> yo diré 
hacer -> yo haré 
querer -> yo querré

There's not a mnemonic connection between which verbs are irregular in the future and which verbs have irregular past participles (of these 12, only poner/puesto, decir/dicho, and hacer/hecho are also irregular in the past participle):

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  • Note that the conjugations for vos similarly don't necessary follow the rules. The endings can range from -ás (Rioplatense), -és (Col. Ven. and much of C. Am.), -í(s) (Chile and Ecuador), and even -éi(s) (Cuba and a few other places). In generally, though, the only conjugation for vos with haber tends to be these days has although historically you could find other ones and probably older people still use them. Apr 27 '17 at 15:46
  • @guifa Is vosotros used in those places? I thought it was generally not.
    – WBT
    Apr 27 '17 at 15:52
  • vosotros (plural, informal) isn't, but vos (singular, informal) is. Apr 27 '17 at 15:54
  • @WBT - I have a friend from Guatemala who uses vos with és. I don't. She understands me and I understand her, and we talk a little different from each other. You say tomato I say tomahto. Apr 28 '17 at 5:08
  • The reason the future looks like it has an inflection of haber attached to the infinitive is because that is how it was synthesized long ago. The original Latin future was altogether different from this.
    – tchrist
    May 1 '17 at 13:38
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For starters (apologies if this step isn't necessary for you), I like to make a timeline where the past is behind my dominant shoulder, the present is pointing down to the floor where I'm sitting or standing, and the future is to the front of my dominant shoulder. In other words, I use my dominant hand to point to the place in time. The future is forward, and that connects to the stress falling on the future ending, for example, "yo iré": the last syllable gets the stress, and that means that we are thinking ahead (into the future). I hope you see what I mean.

Now, you asked for memory tricks to remember the specific endings. Usually the mnemonics that work the best are very personal. For example, I learned "sonrisa" by thinking about looking at a nice sunrise and smiling. However, I will make a stab at getting you started.

é: yo iré: the last syllable sounds a bit like "ray" -- ray of sunshine. I am pleased to tell you that I will go to your party. This pleasure is like a ray of sunshine. "Sí, iré a tu fiesta."

ás: tu irás: the last syllable sounds a bit like Raas, a thrilling traditional folk dance form of Gujarat & Rajasthan India. I can ask you if will attend the upcoming Raas performance: ¿Irás? ¿Irás a Raas mañana?

á: él/ella/usted irá (I would pick one as the paradigm, for example, "él irá": just take the S off the end of the previous one. (This follows a general pattern.)

emos: nosotros iremos: start with "yo iré" and put "mos" on the end. If you have trouble remembering this, you could think, "Most of us will be going."

éis: vosotros iréis: hmm. I learned Spanish in Mexico and don't use this form. Perhaps you could also connect it to "iré."

án: ustedes/ellos/ellas irán: Here I would start with the singular "el irá" and add an N, because in general one goes from singular to plural by adding an N.

As you can see, I believe it is easier to learn endings if you learn them as part of an actual verb conjugation. In other words, I recommend seeing the chart in your head (and pronouncing the chart) as

yo iré

tú irás

él irá

nosotros iremos

vosotros iréis

ellos irán

However, as one "sees" or "hears" this, one should also keep in mind where the stem ends and where the ending begins.

Edit:

A fun way to practice future would be to take sentences from your book that appear in the conditional and just switch them over to the future.

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  • Thanks for the answer! As a comment, I strongly prefer to not use ir as an example verb for any patterns because it's irregular in nearly all forms (future being an exception), so the verb gets a much stronger mental link to "irregular" than "regular pattern."
    – WBT
    Apr 27 '17 at 23:01
  • I also still don't quite understand the shoulder metaphor. Accents in the past tense don't get added to the first vowel, for example.
    – WBT
    Apr 27 '17 at 23:14
  • @WBT - Why not learn the future with a different stem than you learn the others with? At any rate, I hope this example inspires you to come up with your own mnemonics. // The shoulder thing isn't a metaphor. When I was a language teacher, I used gestures to indicate what tense was desired. You can use gestures as a supplementary sign language when speaking. These gestures can be useful for you to cue the correct verb form. // I hope you're aware that the future tense is rarely used. Preferable: Voy a comer más tarde (instead of Comeré más tarde). Apr 28 '17 at 5:05
  • Here's another base word to work with: Seguir. Seguiré tu camino. Ray of sunshine could work here too. Será: "Qué será será" (the song). Maybe it's Italian and would not be expressed exactly this way in Spanish, but it can serve as a mnemonic nevertheless. Then continue as I described for the others. Add an S for because that's the nature of second person plural conjugations. Etc. Apr 28 '17 at 5:15
  • Yes, that the future tense is so rarely used is why it's taken me longer than others...less practice.
    – WBT
    Apr 28 '17 at 14:01
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Some People Hate Vicious Cats That Die Quickly.

(source: Pinterest)

This is a mnemonic I found on the net to memorize the list of future tense irregulars in Spanish.
Sorry. I don't mean to offend cat lovers. I love all animals but the memory trick is good.

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  • 1
    Maybe you should explain the mnemonic. Don't assume that the content of that link is always going to be available. Please, bring that content here and include it into your answer. While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes
    – Diego
    Feb 21 '19 at 16:20

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