How common is the form "va a estar" versus "estará"?
I'm asking generally for all verbs. I'm kind of assuming the second version is more popular among native speakers since it's faster/fewer syllables, but I figured I'd ask.
The first is very common in Mexico. In some areas it is used much more than the 'true future,' and i have had teachers in the US, Mexico, and Argentina tell me I can get along very well, for a long time, using just the Ir a + infinitive version.
According to my best friend in Costa Rica, the "ir+a+inf" construction is used for plans in the near future and the future tense is used to speak about events further down the road. Just like rspreng said, the "ir+a+inf" construction is much more widely used. It is definitely somewhat of a waste of a perfectly good tense, if you ask me!
Regarding the pronunciation: I pronounce "Va a estar" more like / vastar /. In general, a quick / va / followed by the infinitve form of the verb.
"Estará" I actually pronounce it slighty slower, like / estaraa /.
Apart form that, in some cases, the second form gives me the feeling that it comes with a implicit "maybe".
In my opinion, this is one of the things that you really just have to absorb in order to get a feel for.
My Spanish teacher was talking about this last night! He said that it is largely regional, but also in some areas, the distinction is one of education. Those with more of a college background are more likely to say "estará" and those without usually say "va a estar." The less educated people will still understand estará, they just are less likely to use it.
He's Mexican-American, but I don't think Mexico was the country he was referring to. It may have been Puerto Rico specifically, though no estoy seguro. (And I know that PR isn't a country.) Anyone with personal experience want to chime in?
As I mentioned in a different thread, the form "ir + a + infinitive" is the only one used in Buenos Aires city, Argentina. Simple future is practically never used. On a related note, present perfect isn't used there either; it gets replaced by pretérito perfecto simple (he ido vs fui). Using simple future or present perfect is either poetic or an indication that you're not from there.