Using the near future in Spanish: ir + a + infinitive

Using the near future in Spanish: ir + a + infinitive

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated October 31, 2023

The near future tense in Spanish has this structure: ir + a + infinitive. 

Ir is the Spanish verb meaning “to go.” A means “to.” Add an unconjugated verb in the infinitive and you have a phrase in the near future tense in Spanish: ir a hablar (going to talk). Conjugate the verb ir and you have a complete sentence: Voy a hablar (I am going to talk).

This structure is extremely useful because ir is the verb we use to talk about anything that will happen soon. Since the syntax is not so different from English, native English speakers usually pick up on this structure quickly. You should be able to speak about future plans long before you master full verb conjugations in the future tense.

Today, we’ll learn how the ir + a + infinitive structure is formed, why it’s different from simple future and when to use it in conversation. 

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Near future vs. simple future in Spanish

We covered how to conjugate the simple future tense in Spanish before, but let’s review. 

Here is a chart showing the major difference between the near future (ir + a + infinitive) and the simple future tense for the Spanish verb hablar (to talk).

SubjectNear FutureSimple Future (conjugated)
yo (I)voy a hablar
(I’m going to talk)
(I will talk)
(you)vas a hablar
(you are going to talk)
(you will talk)
él/ella (he/she)
usted (you; formal)
va a hablar
(he/she is going to talk; you are going to talk)
(he/she will talk; you will talk)
nosotros (us)vamos a hablar
(we are going to talk)
(we will talk)
ellos/ellas (they)
ustedes (you; plural)
van a hablar
(they are going to talk; you all are going to talk)
(they will talk; you all will talk)

What does the formula ir + a + infinitive translate to in English? As you can see above, the literal translation is “going to [insert verb],” 

Though slightly different, each phrase above communicates the same idea. They can even be used in the same conversation. 

Ir + a + infinitive is usually used because it’s easier. Notice that the near future phrase only requires you to conjugate one verb: ir. That’s why it’s an easy option! 

The simple future requires you to memorize the conjugations for all verbs that exist. It’s the more advanced option, especially when you consider irregular verbs (spoiler alert: there are a lot of irregular verbs in the future tense). 

So, let’s learn the easy way first.

‘Ir + a + infinitive’ alternative terms

You may see the near future format written in one of three different ways:

  • ir + a + infinitive, with each word separated
  • ir a + infinitive, split in two
  • ir a future tense, with no separations

The first is the standard term. The second is used because ir a (to go to) is used together in the sequence. The third is another way to refer to this format of near future tense. 

Don’t worry, all three terms are correct and refer to the same thing.

The ‘ir + a + infinitivo’ formula

The near future tense will be easy for you to master due to the ir + a + infinitive formula or sentence structure. You only need to learn how to conjugate a single verb: ir

1. Conjugate ‘ir’ in the present tense

Here is how to conjugate ir (to go) in the present tense. It’s an irregular verb, but it’s probably familiar to you already. 

SubjectIr (conjugated)
yo (I)voy
él/ella (he/she)
usted (you; formal)
nosotros (us)vamos
ellos/ellas (they)
ustedes (you; plural)

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2. Insert ‘a’ (to)

After you’ve conjugated the verb ir to match your subject, insert the preposition a (to go). 

A is one of the most common prepositions in Spanish, so it may also be familiar to you. This word never changes — it’s just a single letter a.

3. Add a verb infinitive at the end

Finally, add a verb at the end of the phrase. Remember: You do not conjugate this verb. It stays in its infinitive form, meaning it keeps the ending in -ar, -er, or -ir

These unconjugated “base forms” of the verbs look like this: hablar (to talk), comer (to eat) or escribir (to write).

Ir + a + infinitive examples

When we follow these steps and plug different words into the ir + a + infinitive formula, we can create full sentences talking about the future. 

Here are some ir + a + infinitive examples that you can use:

  • Voy a tomar un café. (I am going to have a coffee.)
  • ¿Vas a traer el libro a clase el lunes? (Are you going to bring the book to class on Monday?)
  • Ella va a viajar a Alemania para el verano. (She is going to travel to Germany for the summer).
  • ¿Vamos a estudiar en la biblioteca? (Are we going to study in the library?)
  • Van a tener que limpiar la casa. (They are going to have to clean the house.)

Ir + a + infinitive examples with pronouns

When you add pronouns to the mix, it’s important to know where they belong in this structure. Take the first two examples above. Here, they are rewritten using direct object pronouns.

  • Lo voy a tomar. (I am going to drink it.)
  • ¿Vas a traerlo a clase el lunes? (Are you going to bring it to class on Monday?)

Notice that the pronoun never goes in the middle. The ir + a + infinitive structure is never broken. The pronoun must go either (1) at the beginning, or (2) attached to the infinitive verb at the end. 

The immediate future is yours

As you can see, the near future tense (ir + a + infinitive) is used to talk about anything in the immediate future. This phrasing is useful for talking about weekend or future plans, telling somebody where you are going, coordinating plans with friends, gossiping, making suggestions about the future, and more. 

Of course, we encourage you to master advanced Spanish skills, but it’s smart to start with the easy stuff. Based on these examples, are you ready to create your own ir + a + infinitive near future tense phrases?

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Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Turkish. Her consulting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

Alison Maciejewski Cortez
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