Whenever I am reading about which tense to use, most sources seem to say that constructions like tocarei violão are mainly used in written text, and when speaking you would say vou tocar violão.

Are there any exceptions to this? Are there any situations where the two might have slightly different meanings?

In written Portuguese, are both used or just one, and if both, what is the difference between them?

Muito obrigado amigos :)

  • Related: É correto dizer “eu farei” e/ou “eu vou fazer”?
    – Jorge B.
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 8:57
  • All the answers are correct but just a comment about "going to go". Please, never say "eu vou ir" "ele vai ir lá". It sounds terrible and very very wrong. Just say "eu vou" or "eu irei". "Eu vou ir" = "I will go go" o.O. Lot's of people say like that in BR though. I hate it and really hurts to hear that. Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 10:51
  • 1
    What's wrong with it though if vou is the auxiliary and Ir the lexical verb? How is this different than the English "I did do it","I have had ice cream before" or "I'm going to go out later"?
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 11:30
  • If it's just not in common usage, that that would make sense as language is rearely 100% logical, and often things are "wrong" in a language just because they are. But it seems like you're saying it's in common usage in Brazil, so why is it wrong to use this?
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 11:31
  • @Some_Guy It's not grammatically wrong (you can say, after all, há de haver, haverá, havia havido, tenho tido, se vier a vir, and so on). It's just that vou already can mean vou ir. In Portugal, no one will say vou ir, and the fact that in Brazil some people do say that is only further proof the more advanced grammaticalization state in Brazil.
    – Artefacto
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 21:43

3 Answers 3


Your question is about the spoken language. So is my answer.

In ptBR, the future is expressed by "verb ir + infinitive". It is very rare to hear someone use the future simple for an action that is going to happen in the future. Let's examine some examples, including a few posted by Artefacto in his answer (ptPT).

  • "Eu viajarei"...sounds formal or pedantic. By pedantic, I mean that person would normally say "vou viajar", but changes it to "viajarei" to sound different, more educated, whatever. Everybody says "vou viajar" here in Brazil.

  • "Eu falarei com ela." Again, it sounds unusual and/or formal.

  • "Chegará o dia"... hardly anybody says that in Brazil. "Vai chegar o dia em que você vai perceber que esteve errado." is the rule.

  • "Nunca o direi" People here would say "nunca vou dizer" ou "jamais vou dizer".

  • "Será que" is a set phrase, you can't change it. It isn't a verb in the future, but it can refer to a past, present, or future action and will always express uncertainty about an action or the need to hear an opinion ("será que ela vai gostar?") eg. Será que ela estava em casa quando tudo aconteceu? (past) Será que ela está em casa? (present) Será que ela vai nos receber? (future)

As I said before, the future simple has little use in the spoken language. It sounds formal and is used sometimes in such situations as, for example, when someone is giving a lecture or a speech.

  • If you want to know about spoken Brazilian Portuguese, this is the correct answer.
    – bfavaretto
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 1:03
  • chosen because it's most relevant to be as a ptBR learner (I didn't really understand how different the two languages are when I posted this question. Your tip about "será que" was really helpful too, thanks.
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 23:33

Is the simple future used in spoken Portuguese?

Yes, it certainly is. But this needs to be qualified.

The future simple has many values. Here are some, and how they could (or not) be replaced with ir (present) + infinitive, haver (present) de + infinitive or the present. (There is also the form ir (future simple) + infinitive, which is similar in meaning to the simple future.)

  • Quando chegar a altura, tratarei do teu funeral. (distant future without modality; fully replaceable with the present trato; replacement with hei de tratar adds an odd enthusiasm to the sentence; replacement with vou tratar suggests a firmer intention)
  • Amanhã viajarei para o Porto. (simple futurity; replaceable with vou viajar and, in this case, with the present viajo because the adverb "amanhã" eliminates any ambiguity)
  • Chegará o dia em que isso deixa de funcionar. (tone of prophecy; most commonly replaced with há de chegar; also replaceable, to a lesser extent, with vai chegar, which maybe suggests the day would be very close)
  • Nunca o direi. (promise/commitment; replaceable with hei de dizer and, less emphatically, with vou dizer)
  • Pagarás pelo que fizeste. (threat; replaceable with vais pagar and, to the extent that it is in an undeterminate future, hás de pagar)
  • Farás o que eu te digo. (deontic modality; replaceable with vais fazer with the right intonation)
  • Não matarás. (one of the Ten Commandments; similar to above but non replaceable with vais matar)
  • Por esta altura estará já em casa. (probability, episthemic modality; replaceable with há de estar)
  • Não havia sinais de entrada forçada, pelo que o ladrão terá entrado pela porta das traseiras, que não estava trancada. (logical conclusion of which one is not 100% certain; replaceable with há de ter entrado, which would give it less certainty; with entrou would sound like a certain conclusion)
  • O detido será o autor de um homícidio. (alleged fact; replaceable é provavelmente/alegadamente/presumivelmente)
  • Compreenderás que não o fiz de propósito. ("I hope you understand..." but a little more suggestive or forceful; replaceable with Hás de compreender)
  • Onde é que estaremos? (rethorical question, suggests a problem; not replaceable)
  • Será que ele já chegou? (wondering; it is a slightly more common version of "Ele terá já chegado?"; not replaceable)

Of these, the sentences expressing doubt or possibility are the most likely to be used in spoken Portuguese.

The usage is also different between Brasil and Portugal. Generally speaking, the ir + infinitive is more grammaticalized there (there's no idea of immediate future or going somewhere) and the periphrasis haver de barely exists. Translating from here:

The form ir + infinitivo in Brazilian Portuguese is more grammaticalized and in a more advanced evolutive state than in Spanish and in European Portuguese. This fact can be observed not only in that it has turned into the form of choice to express futurity (distant or immediate), uprooting the synthetic form -rei in the oral language, but also because it's being threatened by other forms of expressing futurity like the periphrasis estar + gerúndio, which is unheard of in Portugal, to express immediate futurity and to express intentional modal content, given that these values are weakened in ir + infinitivo in the Brasilian Portuguese norm.

Then there are sociolinguistic factors. More educated people tend to use the simple future more. On TV, the typical football coach probably won't use the future simple (except in "será que" and other limited circumstances), but more educated people will.

The general tendency is for ir + infinitive when it can be used.

Are there any situations where the two might have slightly different meanings?

For someone who's not an advanced learner of Portuguese, I wouldn't worry too much about the differences between the two except for the situations where the future simple denotes probability/doubt, which the periphrasis with ir cannot.

Nevertheless, as hinted before, there are also other differences, but only in European Portuguese.

The periphrasis tends to express:

  • A prospective aspect, including (but not limited to) ingressive (beginning of a new action) and inchoactive (beginning of a new state) aspects.
  • A near future rather than a distant one.
  • An intention rather than a quasi-expectaction.

A prospective aspect means the event time happens later than the reference time. Take @Jacinto's sentence:

Em Janeiro, já serei pai.

By January, he will already be a father; the future event started before the reference time (January). "Ir" is indeed possible, but less natural. You could also say:

Em Janeiro, já hei de ser pai.

Which is similar, but introduces more distance or detachement in the statement.

Compare also these two sentences:

(1) Amar-te-ei sempre.
(2) Vou amar-te sempre.

Here (2) is merely prospective (maybe you didn't love them before), and can mean that you will start loving them now. (1) is more compatible with a meaning where you've always loved them and will continue doing so.

Let's also compare these sentences:

(1) Eu farei o trabalho.
(2) Eu vou fazer o trabalho.

We can interpret the contrast in several ways:

  • (1) is a mere statement of fact, where (2) signals intention of doing the work,
  • (1) indicates you will do the work at some point, where in (2) you will be doing the work in a near future,
  • (2) indicates that you will begin doing the work.

Note also that, with the right context, their differences are mostly flattened:

Amanhã farei o trabalho.
Amanhã faço o trabalho.
Amanhã vou fazer o trabalho.

(Amanhã hei de fazer o trabalho doesn't mean the same, it is more of a commitment or reminder to yourself.)

By the way, you've asked very broad questions, if you want to know more, you can look at the thesis I mentioned above.

  • This is definitely going to take some digesting, thanks so much for the thorough answer
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 12:36

This is mostly a matter of usage and what sounds more natural. And I'm writing from Portugal, so there's always the chance that someting sounds natural to me and not so natural to Brazilian ears. So here it goes. In spoken language you use the futuro mainly to express uncertainty or doubt.

(a) Parto para Londres amanhã, voltarei talvez no sábado.

If you you’re sure you’re coming back Saturday you’d sayvou voltar no sábado or volto no sábado. And you could say volto talvez no sábado too: the future sounds natural in (a), but it’s not compulsory. Similarly:

(b) Que dirá ele quando souber?

(c) Não sei se amanhã, depois de um longo dia de trabalho, estarei com disposição para o aturar.

You can use the futuro to express uncertainty even about the present:

(d) Ele já terá chegado? Estará em casa agora?

The questions above will sound rhetorical (you're not expecting an answer at all, are only wondering aloud) or implying that you are not confident the person you’re asking knows the answer. Otherwise you’d ask ele já chegou? Está em casa agora?

You use the futuro too in structures like by the time X I'll something when this something has started before time X. Especially with the verb ser. Compare:

(e) Vou ser pai em janeiro. (f) Em janeiro já serei pai.

In (e) you mean your child will be born in January. In (f) you mean that by January you’ll be a daddy already; your child may have been born earlier. It would be a natural structure in phrases like by the time you’re back, I’ll… I reckon you could rephrase (f) as em janeiro já vou ser pai, but it doesn't sound as natural to me. Structure (f) works with other verbs too:

(g) Quando voltares de Londres, já terei carta de condução; já poderei levar-te a passear.

(h) Daqui por um ano já estarei na casa nova.

But in (g) and (h) you could use ir plus infinitive instead.

I tried to sample my memory for usage of futures tenses in literature, but the problem is that stories, except for the rendering of direct speech, don’t use the future tense much. It’s more along the lines of once upon a time and what a good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road… I suppose it will be more common in contracts and formal plans:

(i) As mercadorias serão entregues na sexta-feira e o fiscal inspecioná-las-á de imediato.

If you substitute vão ser for serão there is no change in meaning. It’s just that serão is more formal. Vai inspecioná-las is again more informal, and sounds more like a matter of facr, whereas inspecioná-las-á (= inspecionará as mercadorias) can sound like a prescription. (It may be the uncertainty conveyed by the futuro in informal language creeping in.)

One hears here and there sometimes that ir + infinitive applies to the near future, and the simple future to a more distant future. But I think the important difference is fact versus possibility. Compare:

Os resultados das eleições só serão conhecidos daqui a três horas.

A atividade económica em Portugal só regressará ao nível anterior à crise daqui a dois anos.

O sol vai extinguir-se daqui a cinco bilhões de anos.

The difference here is that we're a lot more confident about the Sun.

  • Interesting. It does seem that adverbs such as "já", "então", cue the simple future.
    – Artefacto
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 18:47
  • I'm afraid I'm getting too self-conscious to analyse these things properly. But maybe what's going on is that vou ter, vou poder, etc. hint at a beginning. And when you refer to something at a moment X in the future (say, having a driver's license) but that something has begun before X (as in my examples (f) to (h), then may vou ter doesn't sound so compelling anymore, and opens the way for terei. But it's not the per se: Gosto destas novas regras; assim já vou poder ganhar. I wouldn't say poderei here.
    – Jacinto
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 21:06
  • Hás de ler aqui esta tese de doutoramento Podes começar na página 703 onde está uma discussão sobre "já" que me passa ao lado, mas depois discute contraste futuro simples/perifrstico. Após ler mais castelhano do que gostaria, parece-me que os contrastes são futuro remoto/futuro imediato, -certeza/+certeza, quase-previsão/intenção e aquilo a que ele chama "conteúdo aspetual prospetivo": na perífrase o ponto de origem coincide com o momento da enunciação, mas pode deslocar-se no futuro simples.
    – Artefacto
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 22:35
  • Já agora, aqui parece concordar com o tua opinião sobre um começo: "En la última (16) ["O sol vai nascer"], ir+infinitivo tiene el valor aspectual ingresivo y temporal de inmediato, recordemos que esta perífrasis sí posee valor aspectual prospectivo puede ser, entre otros, ingresivo o incoativo"
    – Artefacto
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 22:49
  • Ainda bem. Isto foi uma coisa em que eu me pus a pensar com a tua observação acerca do . Depois lerei isso. Mas página 703?! Isso não é uma tese; é uma tesão!
    – Jacinto
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 22:52

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