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In Spanish and some other languages (e.g. French and German), we can use the present indicative tense plus an appropriate adverb to communicate about the future, for example

Mañana voy al supermercado.

Je vais au marché demain.

Morgen gehe ich einkaufen.

This way of communicating about things to come is more informal than the future tense proper (Iré / J'irai / Ich werde gehen).

How can I document this to a native Spanish speaker who isn't aware of this feature of Spanish?

Also, how would I explain this to a Spanish learner?

Motivation for the question: a comment

Note, I tried to find a note about this in the DRAE but all I came up with was http://www.rae.es/diccionario-panhispanico-de-dudas/apendices/modelos-de-conjugacion-verbal which didn't help.


Now that Gustavson showed me what this is called, I was able to find some more documentation. For Spanish speakers: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usos_desplazados_de_los_tiempos_verbales

For Spanish learners: https://www.espanolavanzado.com/gramatica-avanzada/489-presente-prospectivo

  • ohh, now i see what you are talking about now, yeah i have heard this way of speech in the south america and in Spain, but in Mexico you have to say it in the future tense "mañana voy a ir al super mercado" probably is said like that to make the sentence shorter – Mike Jul 8 '18 at 2:43
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In this publication you can find some good examples of the present tense being used to express future time in Spanish:

El presente prospectivo o presente con valor de futuro alude a hechos posteriores al momento de la enunciación.... Este uso del presente es característico, aunque no exclusivo, de los compromisos, de la descripción de planes, actuaciones previstas o programadas, etc.

(The prospective present or present with future value refers to actions that will take place after being spoken about.... This use of the present tense is commonly seen for appointments, descriptions of plans, anticipated or programmed performances, etc.)

A future time reference may be required for the sentence in the present to be interpreted as future:

  • El tren sale a las 8.

As can be seen above, most of these sentences will refer to scheduled actions or events.

Sometimes, the present has future value in contexts in which a threat is implied:

  • Sigues comportándote así y te echo de la clase.

In conditional clauses (unlike adverbial clauses of time in which present subjunctive is used), present indicative is used to refer to a future situation:

  • Si gana Bélgica el Mundial, hago una fiesta. Pero si gana Inglaterra, me mato. (It's a joke...)

Notice that in the sentence above both the condition and the result refer to the future and are expressed in the present tense.

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For a Spanish learner who's fluent in English, I think it could be explained like this:

It's similar to using the present continuous in English to talk about something that will happen in the future, for example:

Tomorrow I'm starting a new job.

"Present continuous" is also sometimes called "present progressive" or "I-N-G form."

The precise equivalent of the future tense in Spanish would be

Tomorrow I will start a new job.

And with a contraction, this would be

Tomorrow I'll start a new job.

Note, although it's not as common, sometimes the present indicative is used for this also, e.g.

Tomorrow I start my new job.

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