Talking About the Future with “Haver”

The verb haver paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio can also be used indicate that someone will do something at some point in the future. To use it like this, we conjugate the verb in the Present Indicative tense and add the preposition de. This is a rather formal way of describing a future action or intention.
Hei de visitar a minha avó. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I shall visit my grandmother.
Hás de ir a França um dia. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio You shall go to France one day.
Haver can also be used in a similar fashion to make a request. When haver + de is used to ask for something, it implies “in the future, as soon as you have the time/it is convenient”. Let’s look at a few examples:
Hás de me ver se tenho nódoas no casaco. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Check my jacket for stains, would you?
Vocês hão de me preencher estas folhas. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Fill in these sheets, will you?
Sr. Pereira, há de me ver se tem o meu agrafador. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio Mr. Pereira, could you check whether you have my stapler?
These requests sound slightly odd in Portuguese, don’t they? Nevertheless, this is a colloquial and often-used way to ask something of someone with whom you have at least a bit of familiarity.
NOTE: Before the Orthographic Agreement of 1990, these particular usages of the verb haver paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio were easier to spot, since there was a hyphen connecting de to the conjugated verb. For example:
Hei-de visitar a minha avó. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio I shall visit my grandmother.
Hás-de ir a França um dia. paused audio playing audio Play slow audio Play normal audio You shall go to France one day.
Now you’ll know what it means if you spot these written down!

Comments

  • Hi !
    Is it true that expressions using “haver” are used to desribe future that is ucertian?
    for example: “Qualquer dia, hei de escrever um livro”, “Um dia eu hei de viajar por todo o mundo”.
    Thanks!

      • I guess I have the same thought as Sara. From my experiences with hearing Portugues, I often get the feeling that “hei de” seems to imply “should”. So rather than “I shall visit my grandmother”, I hear “I should visit my grandmother”. How do you know which a person means when they say it?

        • I would say that by definition, “hei de” indicates that the subject intends to perform the action (the uncertainty is not so much on whether they’ll do it, but when). So it’s more binding than ‘should’. In fact, you can say “I should do that – but I won’t!”, which is incompatible with “hei de”.

          In any case, just because we say we’ll do something, doesn’t mean we actually will 😉 No way to know just from words alone.

  • Hi,
    I’m not sure I understand why there is “me” in the phrases above. For example “Vocês hão de ME preencher estas folhas” . For me it will sound less odd without it 🙂
    Also, is it an affirmative phrase when we say that in Portuguese or is it also with a question mark at the end as in English translation or at least with the intonation of the question? 🙂

    Thanks!

    • Olá, Ivana. In sentences like those, the “me” refers back to the speaker, as if you were saying “Vocês hão de preencher estas folhas para mim“. In Portuguese, all those examples are affirmative statements, indeed 🙂

      • You explained that the expression haver+ de+ me + infinitive is used in the affirmative but is it a pollte way of making a request? Without the implication of a question, it feels, at last to me in translation, very direct and more like a cmmand.

  • Olá Joseph,
    Thanks for the reply. I thought so 🙂 But would it be a mistake or sound worng to drop “me” ? Just curious 🙂

    • You’re welcome! It’s fine to drop “me” whenever the meaning is essentially complete without it. For example, it’d be absolutely fine to omit it in “Vocês hão de me preencher estas folhas”. But in a sentence such as “Hás de me ajudar”, it might be important to keep it so that it’s clear that the person should help you and not someone else. Just “Hás de ajudar” doesn’t give us enough information (without additional context).

      • Oh sure, I definitely hear and understand the difference in the second case. It would sound odd even to me, russian speaking, to drop “me” in that case 😊
        Thank you for reply!

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