Spanish Lessons

Topics

Expressing Progression with the Verb ir

The verb ir (to go) is used in many idiomatic expressions in Spanish. One of the most interesting uses of this verb is to indicate the beginning and progression of an action, for example:

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

¡Excelente! Voy planeando el evento.
Excellent! I'm starting to plan the event (right now).

It's not easy to translate the expression voy planeando el evento with precision. In the same situation, an English speaker would often use the future tense, "I will start planning the event," which has an exact equivalent in Spanish: comenzaré a planear el evento. But voy planeando (literally, "I go planning") is in the present tense, and the expression means that I'm starting the action of planning at a certain point (the present in this case) and that it will continue for some time in the future until its completion. It also implies that I will be planning while other actions are taking place simultaneously. This may be something obvious that could be inferred by context or mere logic in English, but there is no special verbal form to express it.

Now, this expression has many variations and, since the verb ir (to go) is an important irregular verb, it's worth studying different examples. The basic structure of the expression is as follows: a conjugated form of the verb ir (to go) + a verb in gerundio (-ando, -iendo endings in Spanish). In the previous example we used voy, the conjugated form of the verb ir in the present, and planeando, the gerundio of the verb planear (to plan). Let's see variations with different persons and tenses:

Iré planeando el evento.
I will start planning the event.

Lucía irá planeando el evento.
Lucia will start planning the event.

The verb ir in this expression can also be conjugated in the past tense. For example:

Fuimos planeando el evento.
We went about planning the event.

Did you notice that we adjusted our translation to better express the meaning of the sentence? The same happens when we use other verbs different from planear (to plan):

Voy cancelando el evento.
I start by cancelling the event.
(Though Spanish also has an exact equivalent for this translation: empiezo por cancelar el evento.)

But let's see some examples in real context. In the following examples, try to analyze the construction and meaning of the sentence in Spanish but also the translation we used for each. Maybe you can come up with a better one!

 

Te pones de rodillas o vas cambiando de postura.

You get on your knees or you go around changing postures.

Caption 75, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 5

 Play Caption

 

Y ahora, una vez que tenemos el aceite,

And now, once we have the oil,

lo vamos clasificando por calidades.

we're going to classify it by traits.

Caption 66, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 14

 Play Caption

 

Tienen un olfato muy desarrollado,

They have a very developed sense of smell,

enseguida te huelen el trocito de manzana, galleta, lo que sea,

right away they smell the little piece of apple, cookie, whatever,

y te van siguiendo.

and they start following you.

Captions 54-56, Animales en familia - Un día en Bioparc: Coatís

 Play Caption

 

Poco a poco la iremos consiguiendo.

Step by step, we are going to achieve it.

Caption 16, ¡Tierra, Sí! - Atenco

 Play Caption

 

Poco a poco los irás descubriendo todos.

Little by little you'll go along discovering all of them.

Caption 40, Fundamentos del Español - 9 - Verbos Reflexivos

 Play Caption

 

Hasta después fui aprendiendo

Until later [when] I started learning

conforme se fue haciendo el cómic.

as the comic was being made.

Captions 40-41, Antonio Vargas - Artista ilustración

 Play Caption

 

Finally, here's an interesting example that uses the verb ir not only as the auxiliary conjugated verb but also for the gerundio, which is yendo (going). The expression is then voy yendo (literally "I go going").  
 

Bueno, voy yendo que... -Sí, sí. -...deben de estar por llegar.

Well, I'm going since... -Yes, yes. -...they are bound to arrive soon.

Caption 24, Muñeca Brava - 33 El partido

 Play Caption

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

That's it. Mejor nos vamos despidiendo (We better start saying goodbye)!

Sina... What?

Do you ever feel frustrated when you can't make out what a Spanish speaker is saying because he or she speaks so fast that an entire sentence seems to sound like a single long word? Well, we won't lie to you: there's no easy solution to that problem, only listening practice and more listening practice. However, we can at least give you something to blame next time you find yourself lost in a conversation due to this problem: blame the synalepha.
 
A fancy word indeed, synalepha (or sinalefa in Spanish) is the merging of two syllables into one, especially when it causes two words to be pronounced as one. La sinalefa is a phonological phenomenon that is typical of Spanish (and Italian) and it's widely used in all Latin America and Spain. Native speakers use sinalefas unconsciously to add fluidity, speed and concision to what they are saying.
 
There are basically two types of sinalefas. Let's learn about them using examples from our catalog of videos. Maybe that'll help you catch them next time. And if you have a subscription with us, make sure you click on the link to actually hear how the sinalefas are pronounced!

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

The first type of sinalefa merges two vowels, the last one and the first one of two contiguous words. A single sentence can contain several of them, for example:

 

¿Cómo es el departamento comercial de una empresa

How is the commercial department of a company

que trabaja en setenta y dos países?

that operates in seventy-two countries?

Captions 1-2, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

 Play Caption


So, thanks to the sinalefas, this is how the speaker actually pronounces the sentence: ¿Cómoes el departamento comercial deunaempresa que trabajaen setentay dos países?  Yes, the letter "y" counts as a vowel whenever it sounds like the vowel "i."
 
Here's another example, this time from Colombia:

 

¿Qué pensaría mi hermano

What would my brother

si supiera de este vídeo que estamos filmando?

think if he knew about this video that we are filming?

Caption 31, Conjugación - El verbo 'pensar'

 Play Caption

 
Again, thanks to the sinalefas, what the girl speaking actually pronounces is: ¿Qué pensaría mihermano si supiera deeste video queestamos filmando? Yes, the consonant "h" doesn't interfere with the sinalefa, because, as you probably already know, this letter is always silent unless it is next to the letter "c."
 
Now, the second type of sinalefa merges three vowels of two contiguous words. Here's an example:

 

¿O a usted le gustaría que lo mantuvieran encerrado?

Or would you like for them to keep you locked up?

Caption 21, Kikirikí - Animales

 Play Caption


Oausted is what the character pronounces. Can you try to pronounce it the same way?
 
Here's another example, from Mexico this time:

 

cosa que no le corresponde a él.

something that is not his job.

Caption 6, ¡Tierra, Sí! - Atenco

 Play Caption


Finally, one more example that is somewhat extreme. Hear the host of the Colombian show Sub30 posing a question that contains four sinalefas (loop button recommended):

 

¿Será que eso sólo pasa en nuestra época o ha

Could it be that that only happens nowadays or has

pasado desde siempre?

it always been like this?

Caption 3, La Sub30 - Familias

 Play Caption

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

That girl surely speaks fast! Notice that she even merged two words that end and begin with the same consonant “n” into a single one, which, together with the sinalefas, results in what sounds like a super long word: pasaennuestrpocaoha.

¿Por qué?: Why? Because!

Do you ever wonder why "por qué" has an accent in certain instances and not others? In a similar vein: Do you know the reason "porque" is sometimes one word and sometimes two? Tune in to the latest new content at Yabla Spanish and read the captions to see "por qué" and "porque" in action.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Our team of translators took special pains to put all the accents in their proper places in the captions of this week's installment of the documentary ¡Tierra Sí, Aviones No! You'll see evidence of their hard work in the short excerpt below.

 

¿Por qué? Porque él es el único responsable.

Why? Because he's the only one responsible.

Caption 9, ¡Tierra, Sí! - Atenco - Part 4

 Play Caption

 

Why does the first "por qué" take an accent mark over the é? Because it is used to ask a question, that's why. Remember: "Who, what, when, where and why" (those famous Five Ws of journalism) all take accents in Spanish -- as in "Quién, qué, cuándo, dónde y por qué."

Now that you've got the "questioning word = accent mark" rule in mind, let's look at some trickier cases. One pops up just a sentence later.

 

Pero a nivel ejidal no tiene por qué meterse en nuestro ejido.

But at the cooperative level, he doesn't have reason to meddle in our cooperative.

Caption 13, ¡Tierra, Sí! - Atenco - Part 4

 Play Caption

 

No tener por qué + infinitive ("to have no reason to...") is one of those auxiliary (modal) verb phrases that you simply have to memorize -- or figure it out from context. Listen for it; we think you'll find it's surprisingly common in spoken and written Spanish. In these cases por qué means "reason" or "cause." For example:

No tengo por qué juzgar el comportamiento de otros.
I have no reason to judge the behavior of others.

Sometimes it's best translated in the sense of necessity.

Amor no tiene por qué doler.
Love doesn't have to hurt.

Listening to the lyrics of Belanova's ballad featured this week, we encounter another "por qué":

 

Me pregunto por qué

I ask myself why

no te puedo encontrar

I can't find you

Captions 9-10, Belanova - Me Pregunto

 Play Caption

 

In the song's refrain, above, Belanova lead singer Denise is asking herself a question. We don't need to use question marks to get the idea across; the "por qué" here expresses an indirect inquiry.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER


We left you to figure out that "porque" -- one word, no accent mark -- means "because." It begins the answer to many a "por qué" question. Why? Just because!
That is, expressed in Spanish:

¿Por qué? ¡Porque sí!
Why? Just because! (or: Because I said so!)

Grammar

Signup to get Free Spanish Lessons sent by email



You May Also Like