Future perfect in Spanish is a curious verbal tense. It’s sometimes confusing when you listen to Spanish speakers using this form when they talk about the past. You might say that our language is chaotic, but, nowadays, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, who doesn’t look to the past when we think about the future?
Today we’ll learn how to form the future perfect in Spanish, how to use it to speak about the future and when should we use it to speak about the past.
How do we form the future perfect in Spanish?
As other perfect tenses, the future perfect in Spanish is formed with the auxiliar verb haber (in the future simple) and the past participle of the main verb. The future simple of the verb haber is irregular and it uses the root habr- and the usual endings of the future tense (-é, -ás, -á, -emos, -éis, -án).
How to express the future with this tense
The future perfect in Spanish, originally, expresses a future action that takes place before another future action. It’s usually used to emphasize a change in the logical chronology.
For example: Para cuando reserves tu primera clase en Spanishviaskype, los profesores ya habrán hecho un plan específico para tus clases.
In the previous example, the logical order would be, firstly, doing a plan, and finally, the booking. Nevertheless, the author preferred the action of planning in the spotlight rather than the reservation.
In order to introduce this tense, it’s common to find an adverbial clause of time. You must be aware of the usage of the subjunctive in these clauses if they are set in the future. Some of the linking words that can start the sentence are:
- Para cuando + present subjunctive (by the time) = Para cuando llegues, habremos terminado los deberes.
- Cuando + present subjunctive (when) = Cuando seas adulto, habrás entendido lo difícil que es educar a un niño.
- Antes de + infinitive / que + subjunctive (before) = Antes de que anochezca, habré llegado a casa.
- Para + specific date (by) = Para el lunes, habré entregado el proyecto de fin de carrera.
- En + amount of time (within) = En un año, me habré mudado de casa.
As we said before, this is the common usage of the future perfect in Spanish. However, keep reading if you want to learn how to use it in the past.
How to express the past with the future perfect in Spanish
Do you remember the past tenses in Spanish? Which one is used to talk about an action that started in the past but its effects continue in the present? That’s right, el pretérito perfecto (the present perfect in English).
For example: He hecho un examen DELE estupendo. Seguro que apruebo.
This person is absolutely sure that he or she did the DELE exam very well; it’s a fact in his or her opinion. But, what about their friends? Are you sure about how their exam was? If you want to express a conjecture, you can use the future perfect in Spanish.
For example: ¿Cómo te ha salido el examen de hoy? Probablemente habrás hecho un examen estupendo. Eres muy inteligente.
In this case, habrás hecho is an action that took place in the past but hoy is not finished yet. That’s why we can use the pretérito perfecto if it’s a fact, or the futuro perfecto if it’s an assumption.
Obviously, this tense is surrounded by adverbs and expressions with the sense of doubt:
- Probablemente (probably) = Probablemente esta semana habrás tenido clases de conversación.
- Posiblemente (possibly) = Posiblemente en España habrán tenido muchos casos de COVID-19 este año.
- ¿Verdad? (right? Isn’t it?) = Habrás cerrado bien la puerta, ¿verdad?
- Quizá / A lo mejor / Lo mismo / Igual (perhaps, maybe) = A lo mejor se le habrá olvidado la hora de la cita y por eso no ha venido.
As you can see, this different usage of the future perfect in Spanish is very used in colloquial registers. Do you want to practice it in conversations? Did you know that there are more tenses of this kind, which change their original sense? If you want to learn more about this, don’t hesitate and reserve a trial lesson here: habrá merecido la pena.