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Future tense: irregular forms

Most Spanish verbs are completely regular as far as the future tense goes. A handful of verbs have irregular forms. However:

They are only irregular as far as the stem (the bit that the endings are added to) is concerned. The future tense endings are still the same.

The Spanish verbs with irregular future stems are as follows. Note that compounds of these verbs follow the same pattern (e.g. soponer > sopondré etc):

VerbFuture stemExample future tense form
caber (to fit)cabr-cabrá
it'll fit
decir (to say)dir-dirá que...
he/she'll say that...
hacer (to do, make)har-lo haré mañana
I'll do it tomorrow
poder (to be able to)podr-¿podrás?
will you be able to?
poner (to put, get/make1)pondr-lo pondré en la mesa
I'll put it on the table
nos pondremos de acuerdo
we'll agree a time (etc)
querer (to want, love)querr-querrán venir
they'll want to come
saber (to know)sabr-Raul sabrá
Raul will know
¿sabrás qué hora es?
would you know what time it is?2
salir (to leave, go out)saldr-saldré mañana
I'll go out tomorrow
tener (to have, have to)tendr-tendré dinero
I'll have some money
tendrás que preguntar
you'll have to ask
valer (to be worth)valdr-valdrá la pena
it'll be worth it
venir (to come)vendr-vendremos
we'll come
haber (to have -en/-ed)habr-habrá terminado
he/she'll have finished
Spanish verbs with irregular future stems.

Note that many of these irregular forms involve a "shortening" of the infinitive, typically removing the final vowel of the infinitive3.

Practise irregular future tense forms

On the next page, you can practise these irregular forms with an irregular future tense exercise which also includes revision of the regular future tense forms you've seen so far.

1. The verb poner has a number of different translations depending on the exact use.
2. This is an example of an additional function that the future tense has in Spanish, namely to mitigate a request (that is, "make it sound less direct"). The rough equivalent in English is to use would you...?, or add a mitigating phrase such as ...at all?, ...by any chance?.
3. The insertion of the epenthetic d is in some sense a "natural" phonological process, since the non-trilled (flapped) r does not generally occur after consonants articulated at the same place ([n], [l], [s]) in Spanish. The trilled r (cf. Enrique) may ultimately derive from an earlier dr sequence. The shortening of infinitives was apparently more common in an earlier stage of the language, with forms such as entendremos (nowadays entenderemos). Nowadays, only the "irregular" forms above survive. For more information on the historical development of the Spanish future tense, see Lyons, C. G. (1978), A look into the Spanish Future, Lingua 46:225-244.

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