Let’s learn how to say “go” in Spanish! We’ll learn the present-tense conjugations of Ir (voy, va, vas, van, and vamos), using a memory palace.
Time to learn Ir… let’s go!
Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.
Spanish verbs have been front and center on this podcast for the last several weeks, because verbs are the core of how Spanish sentences work. So far we’ve learned the verbs Ser and Estar, as well as several conjugations of Haber, which can be used to put other verbs in the past. We also learned the unconjugated forms of Hacer.
This week we’re going to learn all about the verb Ir, which is another extremely common verb that can be used in many, many different ways, as we’ll explore in the next few episodes.
Ir most simply means “to go”. For example, “I want to go to the place” would be
I want ir al lugar.
Quiero ir al lugar.
The word Ir itself, spelled i-r, is the infinitive, the version of the verb that can be treated as a noun. Let’s go ahead and learn the other two unconjugated forms of Ir, the participle and the gerund.
The participle of Ir follows the pattern that we’ve learned for some other verbs. The participle of Ser is sido, the participle of Estar is estado, and the participle of Ir is ido.
She has gone to that place.
Ella ha ido a ese lugar.
See if you can predict how to say this one.
We have gone to the house one time.
Hemos ido a la casa una vez.
The gerund of Ir is interesting. It follows the patterns of other gerunds. Remember that in the case of both Ser and Hacer, the E-R at the end was replaced with I-E–N-D-O. So for Ser we have siendo, and for Hacer we have haciendo. Well, for Ir, it’s simply “iendo”. But we’ll change the first letter from I to Y, so it’s spelled y-e-n-d-o.
Here’s an example:
We’re going to the place.
Estamos yendo al lugar.
Try this next one out for yourself:
They are going to our house.
Están yendo a nuestra casa.
So let’s practice using these with a brief mini-quiz.
We have gone to that house.
Hemos ido a esa casa.
We’re going to the place.
Estamos yendo al lugar.
They have gone from the place to the house.
Han ido del lugar a la casa.
Are you going to the house?
¿Tú estás yendo a la casa?
I have gone to the place.
He ido al lugar.
He has gone, but she hasn’t gone.
Él ha ido, pero ella no ha ido.
They were going to the house.
Estaban yendo a la casa.
Now it’s important to make a couple of quick notes about how these unconjugated forms are used. When you use the participle to say something like “he has gone” or “I have been here”, it’s different from saying “he went” or “I was here”. The emphasis is not on a specific action, but rather on sort of a general state of whether or not you’ve done something. So for now, the only way you can put Ir in the past is to say things like “I have gone” or “they have gone”, but in future episodes we’ll learn how to be more specific and say “I went” or “they went”.
I also need to point something out about the gerund, yendo. In English, we use phrases like “we are going” and “he is going” all the time, but in Spanish it’s much less common to phrase things this way. You’ll specifically use yendo if you’re emphasizing what’s happening in a specific moment, maybe pointing out that you’re currently en route. Or even that you were currently en route, as would be the case in this sentence:
Estábamos yendo a ese lugar.
But in English, we use the gerund to mean a lot more things. In particular, sometimes we use it to reference something that’s happening in the future. For example, “I’m going to the party tomorrow”. In Spanish, you would never use a gerund to do this. Instead, you’ll either use the future tense, literally “I will go to the party tomorrow”, or actually the simple present tense, “I go to the party tomorrow.” In fact, as we’ll see, the present tense forms of Ir are often translated not just as “I go” or “you go”, but also as “I am going” or “you are going”.
Imagine that you and your friends have set out on a long hike, and you yourself are determined to call this hike voyage. So you tell everyone around you, “I’m going on a voyage!” The word for “go” as in “I go” is voy.
Meanwhile, your friends the pandas are interested in going on the voyage too, but instead of hiking, they want to drive in a van. Their word is van.
So let’s go ahead and practice using voy and van in some real sentences. Note that in some cases, I’ll say “I’m going” or “they’re going”, but in all of these sentences you should still translate these simply as voy or van.
That’s why I’m going to his house.
Por eso voy a su casa.
They(f) are going but I’m not going.
Ellas van pero yo no voy.
The boys go to the place all the time.
Los chicos van al lugar todo el tiempo.
Now there’s something weird about these words. Voy and van look NOTHING like the name of the verb, Ir! They have absolutely nothing in common with the infinitive.
Ir is one of the most irregular verbs in the Spanish language, so we’re going to have to spend extra time and memory palace work this week learning all of its many important conjugations. Fortunately, though, the present tense forms are pretty easy to learn if you simply remember voy for yourself and van for the pandas. Based on the pandas’ conjugation, you can derive the other three forms that we need to learn. Just drop the N, and you get va for “he, she, or it goes”. Vas is the informal “you go”, and vamos is “we go”.
Let’s practice all five forms.
Are you going to the house?
¿Tú vas a la casa?
I go but they don’t go.
Yo voy pero ellos no van.
(formal) You are going to the place?
¿Usted va al lugar?
They’re not going.
Now as you picture these pandas in their little van, going to wherever they’re going, let’s learn a new word that’s important for them. So far, we’ve been saying “you” in a couple of different ways: In an informal context, we can say “you go” as tú vas, or in a formal context, usted va. But in both of these cases, you’re only going to be talking to one person.
To talk to a group of people, you talk to the pandas. And you call them ustedes, which is usted, but plural. For most of the Spanish-speaking world, you’ll say ustedes van or ustedes están or ustedes son, even if it’s a close group of friends; it has nothing to do with being formal or informal. (That’s not true in a lot of mainland Spain, but it is true for pretty much everywhere else in the world).
On today’s quiz, to make it clear whether I’m talking to one person or a group of people, I’ll use the phrase “you all” to make it clear that you’re expected to use the word ustedes along with the “Panda conjugations”.
We’re about to get to today’s quiz to practice this and everything we’ve learned about the verb Ir, but first I have to warn you that it’s going to be very difficult or impossible to translate some of these sentences reliably. For example, the very first sentence, “She isn’t going with me”, *could* be translated as either ella no está yendo conmigo or ella no va conmigo. My recommendation is generally to translate these sentences as the simple present tense, not using the gerund, unless it’s really clear from context that we’re emphasizing the moment. But even so, you’ll find that sometimes the Spanish isn’t what you expect. That doesn’t mean you got it wrong! It’s just an alternative translation. As always, the two rules for this quiz are: First, always try to predict something, even if you’re not sure you can get it right; and second, when you do hear the Spanish, say it out loud to practice the version that we’ve presented.
She isn’t going with me.
Ella no va conmigo.
You (formal) are going to where we had gone.
Usted está yendo a where nosotros habíamos ido.
Usted está yendo a donde nosotros habíamos ido.
I had made this for you.
Yo había hecho esto para ti.
They are going to that place because they hadn’t been there before.
Van a ese lugar because no habían estado there before.
Van a ese lugar porque no habían estado allí antes.
You’re going to the house in order to make something for me.
Vas a la casa para hacer algo para mí.
We aren’t going with them(f) and they(f) aren’t going with us(f).
No vamos con ellas y ellas no van con nosotras.
She wants to go to the place.
She wants ir al lugar.
Quiere ir al lugar.
You all know that I’m going to the place.
Ustedes know que voy al lugar.
Ustedes saben que voy al lugar.
She isn’t going because she had not been well.
No va because no había estado bien.
No va porque no había estado bien.
You all have been good(f).
Ustedes han sido buenas.
I have gone with you.
He ido contigo.
I’m going with them, but I hadn’t gone before.
Voy con ellos, pero no había ido before.
Voy con ellos, pero no había ido antes.
We’re going to the place where you had gone with him.
Vamos al lugar where habías ido con él.
Vamos al lugar donde habías ido con él.
By next week he will have talked with her.
Para next week él habrá talked con ella.
Para la próxima semana él habrá hablado con ella.
You all have to go to the house with him.
Ustedes tienen que ir a la casa con él.
That day you are going to the place.
Ese día vas al lugar.
Look around where you are going!
¡Look around where estás yendo!
¡Mira por donde estás yendo!
I think they are going to the place.
I think que van al lugar.
Creo que van al lugar.
For more practice using Ir, go to LCSPodcast.com/42.
Tomorrow we’re going to learn another fun way you can use Ir, specifically to put other verbs in the future.
This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach [...]. Our music was provided by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.