Quite often I hear students express that their main problem in Spanish is choosing the right tense. Verbs are definitely more complicated than in English, but there are some nuances which make things easier. I have been struck while living in Mexico how often the simple present tense is used, even for things that haven’t happened yet. For instance, in English, quite often we say (using a future tense), I’m going to call you later or I’ll call you tomorrow. Because this future is not so far off, in Spanish it would be commonly expressed as Te llamo más tarde (o mañana). Simple present tense!
Other examples which in English are future, but in Spanish in the present, with either tú or usted forms: Will you let me know? ¿Me avisa(s)? Will you wait for me? ¿Me espera(s)? Will you sign for me? ¿Me regala su firma, por favor? (This is one of my favorite, as you’re being asked literally to give your signature as a gift, or a regalo. Very polite!) Another note here, if they ask for your firma electrónica, it’s your card PIN number required. Will you call me tomorrow? ¿Me llama(s) mañana? I am going to come by your house Monday. Paso por tu casa el lunes.
Sometimes in English we use will, not as the future, but to make a request. Will you split a salad with me? In Spanish, just use the present tense of querer (ie). ¿Quiere(s) compartir una ensalada? Will you do me a big favor? ¿Quiere(s) hacerme un favorzote?
But then there’s the future tense in Spanish used for something we commonly say in English in the present tense. How many times do you start a sentence with “I wonder”. There’s no real equivalent of this in Spanish (although me pregunto is sometimes used as in the meaning I ask myself), but the future tense comes to the rescue. When saying to a driver or a clerk, I wonder if you have change. In Spanish even simpler, ¿Tendrá cambio? I wonder what time it is. ¿Qué hora será? I wonder if he’s coming or not. ¿Vendrá o no?
Use these little gifts of Spanish tenses to make your life less tense!