How to use the infinitive in Spanish to talk about now and the future
What are infinitives?
An infinitive is the form of the verb you find in the dictionary.
Infinitives in Spanish end in -ar, -er or -ir, meaning ‘to...’ in English.
hablar - to speak
comer - to eat
vivir - to live
When do we use infinitives?
Talking about the future
Infinitives can be used to talk about the future with the verb ir (to go).
The verb ir + a is the equivalent of saying ‘going to …’ in English.
This is called the immediate future tense.
Voy a visitar la catedral - I am going to visit the cathedral.
¿Vas a jugar al fútbol? - Are you going to play football?
Rosa va a pasear al perro - Rosa is going to walk the dog.
What other future sentences can you make using infinitives after the parts of ir + a in the table below?
|voy a||I am going to|
|vas a||you are going to|
|va a||he/she/it is going to|
You can use infinitives after opinion verbs such as me gusta (I like), no me gusta (I don't like), me encanta (I love), detesto/odio (I hate) and prefiero (I prefer).
Me gusta leer libros - I like to read books / I like reading books.
No me gusta nadar - I don’t like to swim / I don’t like swimming.
Me encanta comer chocolate - I love to eat chocolate / I love eating chocolate.
Detesto ver películas románticas - I hate to watch romantic films / I hate watching romantic films.
Prefiero salir con mis amigos los fines de semana - I prefer to go out with my friends at the weekend / I prefer going out with my friends at the weekend.
What infinitives can you use with the following phrases to express your opinion?
|me gusta (mucho)||I (really) like|
|no me gusta (nada)||I don't like (at all)|
|me encanta||I love|
Infinitives often come after modal verbs. We use modal verbs to express ability, permission, obligation or desire (things you want to do).
Examples of modal verbs in English are ‘can’, ‘must’ or ‘want’.
Now look at these modal verbs in Spanish and how they are used with infinitives:
tener que - to have to
- Todos los días tengo que hacer los deberes - Every day I have to do my homework.
- Cuando vuelves a casa ¿tienes que pasear al perro? - When you get home do you have to walk the dog?
poder - to be able to/can
- No puedo salir hoy - I cannot go out today.
- En mi pueblo se puede ir al teatro - In my town you / one can go to the theatre.
querer - to want
- ¿Quieres ir al cine? - Do you want to go to the cinema?
- Quiero cenar en un restaurante italiano - I want to eat in an Italian restaurant.
deber - must
- No debes comer chicle - You must not chew gum.
- Debo levantar la mano en clase - I must raise my hand in class.
The following tables show the different parts of some modal verbs. How could you use them with an infinitive?
|tengo que||I have to|
|tienes que||you have to|
|tiene que||he/she/it has to|
|puedo||I am able to/can|
|puedes||you are able to/can|
|puede||he/she/it is able to/can|
|se puede||one/you can|
|se debe||one/you must|
Have a go at this activity to see how much you understand about infinitives in Spanish.
Find out how much you know about using the infinitive in Spanish with this short quiz!
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