Have you ever wanted to travel in time?
Would you like to see what the world will look like in 200 years?
Unfortunately, that is not something I can help you with, sorry!
However, I can help you travel in time to a point where you are a step closer to becoming fluent in Spanish.
How can I do that?
By telling you everything you need to know about the Spanish future perfect tense!
A Review of the Future Tenses in Spanish
Spanish has four future tenses: the simple future, the future perfect, the future subjunctive and the future perfect subjunctive.
Even though we love using the subjunctive in Spanish, its future tenses are barely used.
The future simple, which is normally translated as will or shall in English, is obviously the most commonly used of the four, but we also use the perfect future quite often, as you will see in this post.
The future simple is used in Spanish when you want to say that something will happen:
Los niños vendrán pronto. (The kids will come soon.)
Lo compraré. (I will buy it.)
Additionally, we use it when we want to make present conjectures:
Será la una. (It must be 1 p.m.)
Estará muy cansada. (She must be very tired.)
Another way of talking about the future in Spanish is by using the periphrasis ir a + infinitive. This is the equivalent of going to in English:
Voy a comprar un coche nuevo. (I am going to buy a new car.)
Va a llover. (It is going to rain.)
Finally, we can also use the present simple in Spanish in order to talk about the future. This is very common in everyday conversations, both formal and informal:
Mañana viajo a España. (I am flying to Spain tomorrow.)
La semana que viene tengo un examen. (I am having an exam next week.)
Despite having different ways of talking about the future, we still need a separate tense, just like English does, when we want to talk about completed actions in the future, among other things.
If your native language is English, it should not come as a surprise that you also have the future perfect. You can see a detailed overview of the English future perfect using Grammarly, a writing assistant that checks your written content for grammar and spelling errors. You can download Grammarly on any of your devices and platforms. Use this diverse software to create error-free content and learn about grammatical concepts like the English future perfect tense.
As for this post, it will cover the Spanish future perfect and tell you how and when you should use it, but before going into detail, let’s have a look at another tense which is, surprisingly, closely related to it.
The Spanish Conditional Perfect vs. the Future Perfect
You may already know that we use the conditional perfect in the third conditional when we want to say that something would have happened if a condition had been fulfilled.
I call this tense the “complaint and remorse tense,” because, since it is situated in the past, complaining and having remorse are the only things you can do by now:
Habría ido si no hubiera estado enfermo. (I would have gone if I had not been ill.)
Si me lo hubieras dicho antes, te habría ayudado. (If you had told me before, I would have helped you.)
Many of my students get a little bit of grammar shock when I tell them about the battle between the conditional perfect and the future perfect.
A priori, they should not have anything in common, so why make them confront one another?
Here is a surprise for you: they have one use that can, technically, be considered the same!
This happens when we want to talk about things that may have happened in the past. Much like we do with the conditional perfect in the third conditional, we can use the future perfect in order to talk about things that may have taken place in the past:
Me habré tomado unos seis cafés. (I may have had around six coffees.)
Habremos esperado dos horas ya. (We may have waited/been waiting for two hours already.)
The future perfect can indeed also be used in these scenarios, but both tenses are not interchangeable at all!
I know things may be getting messy for you, so let me tell you the only two rules you have to bear in mind in order to always choose the correct tense:
Use the conditional perfect when it is possible that something happened/did not happen in the past, but the outcome was different from the one you expected:
Habría llegado a tiempo si no me hubiera quedado dormido. (I would have arrived on time if I had not overslept. — But I overslept, so I did not arrive on time.)
No habríamos perdido si hubieras jugado mejor. (We would not have lost if you had played better. — But you did not, so we lost.)
On the other hand, use the future perfect when something may have happened and there is enough present evidence to be almost sure of your estimation. In other words, this time you are not complaining about the outcome, you are just saying there is a strong possibility that it happened:
Me habré tomado unos seis cafés. (I may have had around six coffees. — I have not counted them, but I am pretty sure it must be somewhere around six of them.)
Habremos esperado dos horas ya. (We have waited/been waiting for two hours already. — We are not sure because we do not remember the exact time we arrived here, but it must be roughly around two hours.)
Apart from this crazy moment when the future perfect is used to talk about the past, this tense can also appear in other situations that make it quite a useful tense in Spanish.
The rest of this post is exclusively devoted to it.
Practice Makes Perfect: A Spanish Future Perfect Guide for Learners
Wondering how to practice the Spanish future perfect?
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And now, on to the Spanish future perfect.
How to Conjugate the Spanish Future Perfect
Forgive me if I have assumed this is not the first time you are trying to learn the future perfect.
Up until now I have given you a lot of information and sample sentences, and I have not even told you how to properly conjugate this tense, so let’s get to it.
In order to conjugate the Spanish future perfect tense, all you need is the future tense of the verb haber and a past participle:
The past participle of verbs is formed (exceptions aside) by adding -ado or -ido to the stem of the verb:
comer — comido
beber — bebido
cantar — cantado
comprar — comprado
vivir — vivido
salir — salido
Does it sound too easy to be true? Well, it actually is!
If you want to make a negative, just follow the almost universal rule of Spanish negation: add no in front of the verb.
In this case, add it in front of the verb haber:
No habrá llegado a tiempo. (She may not have arrived on time.)
No habrás terminado para mañana. (You won’t have finished by tomorrow.)
When it comes to posing questions, remember that Spanish is quite an easy language question-wise.
If the subject is omitted, just add the question marks and change the intonation when speaking:
¿Piensas que habrá llegado a tiempo? (Do you think she may have arrived on time?)
¿Habrás terminado para mañana? (Will you have finished by tomorrow?)
If you have a subject, insert it after the past participle:
¿Habrás terminado tú para mañana? (Will you have finished by tomorrow?)
¿Habréis vuelto vosotros para la cena? (Will you have come back for supper?)
Now that you know how to fully conjugate this tense, it is time for you to learn the two main scenarios when it will appear in Spanish.
Using the Spanish Future Perfect for Future Finished Actions
We can say the Spanish future perfect is the Spanish equivalent of the English future perfect because they are both used to talk about actions that will be finished (or not) at a certain point in the future.
Similar to what happens in English, Spanish will include future time expressions very often when using this tense.
Have a look at some examples:
Mañana habré vuelto ya. (I will have already come back by tomorrow.)
Habremos aterrizado en Sevilla a esta hora mañana. (This time tomorrow we will have landed in Seville.)
Sofía no habrá terminado sus estudios en 2022. (Sofía will not have finished her studies by 2022.)
Habré vivido aquí 10 años el mes que viene. (Next month I will have lived/been living here for 10 years.)
However, there is another use of this tense in Spanish that I love, especially because of the surprise reactions I get from my students.
Using the Spanish Future Perfect for Conjectures and Hypotheses
That is right!
We use this tense in Spanish when we want to say that something may have happened but we are not sure!
This use is quite similar to the one I mentioned in “The Spanish Conditional Perfect vs. the Future Perfect” section above, but this time we do not have any information to back our thoughts. We are not sure of what has happened; we are only hypothesizing:
Ya habrá llegado a casa. (He may have already arrived home.)
Habrán vendido la casa. (They may have sold the house.)
Habrá estado enfermo toda la semana. (He may have been ill all week.)
Habrás sufrido mucho. (You may have suffered a lot.)
And that’s all, folks!
As you can see, the Spanish future perfect is not as dangerous as it may seem at the beginning.
If you follow the conjugation rules and use this tense in the above scenarios, there is no way you can make mistakes with it.
This tense is quite specific when it comes to its uses. It is not the present simple, if you know what I mean.
So give it a try, find a couple of situations in which you are sure you can use it and perfect your way into the future!
Stay curious, my friends, and as always, happy learning!
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