Clarify the context(s) that can affect which one to use.


Continuation of "Ir a" versus future tense when asking a question


Although the previous thread suggests both will be the same, it seems to me there can be a difference.

I feel 'ir + a' suggests a situation where the future event is highly probable, or it is logically to happen. Such as when to day:

  • It is very cloudy and getting dark. It is going to rain.
  • The meteorological agency said it was going to rain (because they had data and did calculation)

Whereas it seems to me the future tense suggests a possibility that it can/may happen but no solid basis.

  • A comet may/can crash into the earth within 500 years.
  • I have a desire to live abroad. I can be in other countries when I graduate.

If these stand, then I suppose the difference can be:

¿Cuándo va a venir? suggests that there is a reason or an arrangement that a person should come and asking when they will.

¿Cuándo vendrá? suggests someone may come or may not come, but to ask when they may come if they do.

Are these correct?

Thanks in advance

  • Perhaps the future tense in Spanish is to suggest a possibility that something may happen or has happened? * "Ella salió de la oficina ya. Estará a su casa." I guess this is talking about the possibility that she would/should be at her house now. Possibly the idea/notion of 'future tense' is very different from that of English?
    – mon
    Commented Jan 19, 2014 at 2:23

3 Answers 3


Yes! It is. I thought about this. Some people would normally use them the same way. But yes, "cuándo va a venir..." sounds more like: You already told he/she/it is coming... But i need more data about that. We are certain.

The future tense is further... could be years, could not be...

Diferent meaning when somebody asks, and the answer is : Vendrá. Then, for sure, he/it/she will come.

  • But i can tell you: Many people use them the same way. No matter what. If it is hard for us to distinguish, then, there is no problem about using any :D
    – darkgaze
    Commented Jan 18, 2014 at 21:08
  • Hi there, thanks for the confirmation. Appreciated.
    – mon
    Commented Jan 19, 2014 at 2:06
  • Just use search websites as corpora, search for "cuando vendrá la primavera" and 'cuando va a venir la primavera"; "cuando vendrá el fin del mundo" and "cuando va a venir el fin del mundo"; no difference IMHO.
    – user478249
    Commented Jan 19, 2014 at 2:42
  • Hey don't forget to mark question as answered. :)
    – darkgaze
    Commented Jan 19, 2014 at 11:09

¿Cuándo vendŕa?
¿Cuándo va a venir?
¿Cuándo viene?

are, for IMHO, the same.

Now, if you use the first as an exclamation

¡¿Cuándo vendrá mi novia/novio?! (sight)

this is another story. Of course, this last version denotes uncertainty. But in a context free text, they are the same:

– Pronto nos visita la Orquesta de X en el Teatro Y
– ¿Cuándo viene? // ¿Cuándo va a venir? // ¿Cuándo vendrá? (unterchangably)
– El viernes 13 de junio.


As I understand, when you ask "¿cuándo va a venir?" you are assuming your interlocutor knows the answer. If you ask "¿cuándo vendrá?" you are asking your interlocutor to make a guess.

  • @user2354 That's why we come here :)
    – Flamma
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 0:26

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