Spanish’s Future of Probability And The Future Tense In Spanish

One of the most difficult topics for me when learning Spanish grammar was Spanish’s future of probability and the future tense in Spanish. The “future of probability” is one of those topics that if you try to do a literal translation in English it will not make any sense.

I’ll show you what I mean. Try to translate the following into English:

Que pensara esta muchacha?

If you said that the above means:

“What will this girl think?” then you got it wrong. Although “pensara” does mean what will he, she or you think,” in the case of “future of probability” the above takes on a completely different meaning. It
means:

“What can this girl be thinking?” or “What do you suppose this girl is thinking?”

As native speakers of the English language, it is common for us to indicate conjecture by saying I wonder, probably, may, what could, what can, suppose, etc. However, in the Spanish language, the future tense is used to indicate conjecture in the present.

Now you try. How would you say (in Spanish of course) the following:

1. What do you suppose your boss is thinking?
2. What can our father-in-law be thinking?

If you said the following, then you understand the topic of “future of probability:”

1. Que pensara su jefe?
2. Que pensara nuestro suegro?

With the future of probability, it is important that you “abandon” your concepts of English grammar and force yourself to think in Spanish. If you can grasp this concept, it will be a lot easier for you to tackle this area of foreign language grammar.