Talking About the Future with “Haver”

The verb haver 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.I shall visit my grandmother.
Hás de ir a França um dia.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.Check my jacket for stains, would you?
Vocês hão de me preencher estas folhas.Fill in these sheets, will you?
Sr. Pereira, há de me ver se tem o meu agrafador.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 were easier to spot, since there was a hyphen connecting de to the conjugated verb. For example:
Hei-de visitar a minha avó.I shall visit my grandmother.
Hás-de ir a França um dia.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!

  • Hás de ir à França um dia. To me it’s more like “you ought to…” than “you shall…”

    Bom fim-de-semana

    • Thanks for your comment, Richard. It’s hard to capture the exact nuance of ‘hás de’ in English, there’s no direct correspondence to it. Generally speaking (as this varies with context), the construction ‘haver de’ is more of a statement than a suggestion, and ‘shall’ comes closer to that than ‘ought to’ or ‘should’ 🙂

  • In one of the lessons following this page there’s the phrase: “Ainda hei de ver esse filme”, with the translation of “I shall watch that movie one day”. What is the purpose of “ainda” in this context? Does it change the meaning at all? Wouldn’t the phrase “Hei de ver esse filme” have the same meaning?

    • Olá 🙂 The word “Ainda” adds emphasis to the sentence without really altering the meaning. A literal translation would be something like “I shall still watch that movie one day”.

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