In this article I’m going to tell you about the Spanish verb “to go”.
Did you notice I already used this verb? “Voy a” is one of the most common ways to use the IR verbs in Spanish (to go), and today we are going to learn some phrases in Spanish using this verb.
BEWARE: At Spring Spanish we don’t teach verbs through conjugation tables or grammar drills. Instead, we have our own way of making words and phrases roll off your tongue; it’s called chunking… Soon, you’ll see what I mean!
1. The importance of the Spanish verb “IR” (to go)
Have you ever heard the Spanish expression “me voy a ir yendo”?
This is a very common, perfectly grammatical statement with not one, not two, but three different ways to conjugate the Spanish verb IR “to go”.
If that doesn’t tell you the importance of this verb, I don’t know what does! Just like in English, the verb ir (to go) can be used with an incredible variety of meanings.
Let’ see some examples:
- Voy al cine (I’m going to the movies)
- Vas a ir a la escuela (You will go to school)
- Ella va al gimnasio todas las mañanas (She goes to the gym every morning)
- Vamos a la playa (We are going to the beach)
- Ellos van a manejar (They are going to drive)
In a moment I’ll give you all the different use cases for the verb ir. But first, we need to talk about something that’ll make your life MUCH easier.
2. Learn the -IR verb conjugation with chunking
The meaning of phrases using ir (to go) isn’t always obvious by knowing what each individual word means. Also, ir is an irregular verb, so that makes it a bit more complicated!
This is why we recommend learning it through chunking. For each conjugation (yo voy, tú vas, etc), you take an actual sentence and you imprint the conjugation on your brain as part of a chunk (or word combination). That way, it will roll off your tongue in conversations and you won’t have to go over the entire verb conjugation table every time you try speaking.
So, here is an example on how to do this:
- Ella va al gimnasio todas las mañanas (She goes to the gym every morning)
Instead of thinking of a full conjugation table while trying to fit the right verb in the sentence, you could memorize the verb in context already! In this case, “va al gimnasio” (she goes to the gym).
Creating a flashcard is also useful, like this:
Ella _____________ (goes to the gym) todas las mañanas.
Ella va al gimnasio todas las mañanas.
If you really memorize this chunk or, in other words, imprint it on your brain, you’re learning not only the correct verb conjugation—without having to think of an entire conjugation table while speaking—, but you’re also learning the correct use of it in sentences.
If you learn each of the conjugations through one or two chunks, you will remember these chunks whenever you need to conjugate the verb “IR” (or any other verb, for that matter).
You can do the same with this sentence:
Él ____________ (is going to drive).
Él va a manejar.
Learn this by heart, as a chunk, and you’ll ALWAYS get it right!
We teach our students to speak Spanish entirely through chunks like this; so, it doesn’t only work with verb conjugations! In fact, we’ve developed a 4-step method for it called Conversation Based Chunking.
If you’d like to learn more about it, check out the free Spanish Chunking Training we have on our website!
✔️ Cheat Sheet with 54 essential Spanish Chunks you’ll hear and use yourself in ANY Spanish conversation (and example sentences). Taken from our YouTube Teacher’s most popular videos!
✔️ 2 Bonus Cheat Sheets with Travel Chunks and Dating/Relationship Chunks
✔️ A Spanish Chunking Tutorial showing you the 1 technique that’ll help you make 100% of the Spanish from our videos roll off the tongue in just 5 minutes a day (you’re probably only using 50% of our lessons’ potential right now…)
Now, let’s have a look at when and how to use the verb ir correctly…
3. When to use Spanish -ir verbs
I. To talk about what you normally do and where you usually go
This form of IR (to go) is used to talk about a place we regularly visit. So, if somebody asks you, What do you do during the day?, your response should be in the present tense: Yo voy al colegio (I go to school).
Let’s see more examples:
- Ellos van al cine cada miércoles (They go to the movies every Wednesday)
- Todas las mañanas voy a correr (I go jogging every morning) —¡MENTIRA! (That’s a lie!)
- Mi sobrino va a la universidad (My nephew goes to University)
- Cada año vamos a la cena navideña familiar (Every year we go to the Christmas family dinner)
Don’t forget to learn these as chunks!
For example, the chunks here would be “van al cine”, “va a la universidad”, “vamos a comprar”, “vamos a la cena”.
II. To talk about the future
By far the most common expression using ir (to go) is “ir a” (to go to), which is…
Verb + an infinitive
In order to express what is going to happen, add the appropriate conjugated form of ir (to go), plus “a” (to) before the infinitive form of the verb, but that’s a topic further explored by Mariana in one of her articles… For now, we are going to focus on learning the most common expressions:
For example, if I say “Voy a estudiar”, it means “I’m going to study”.
- Nuestros amigos van a venir (Our friends are going to come)
- Voy a tomar agua (I’m going to drink water)
- Vamos a ver una película (We are going to watch a movie)
- Voy a dormir (I’m going to sleep)
- Lizzie va a jugar con su perro (Lizzie is going to play with her dog)
As you see here, ir is conjugated and the other verb is not. So, it’s super easy to speak about the future in Spanish because you don’t need to learn another way to conjugate the verbs, but you can just use the ir conjugation. You get two for one! Pretty nice deal, right?
III. Ready to learn and practice more -IR phrases?
Let’s have a look at some more examples. Listen closely and repeat after me, so that the chunks that you are learning stick in your mind and so you can start using them right away!
- Vamos en avión a Madrid (We are going by plane to Madrid)
- Él va en coche (He goes by car)
- No quiero ir en autobús (I don’t want to go by bus)
- Quiero ir a la fiesta (I want to go to the party)
- ¡Este chico va para abogado! (This guy looks like he’s going to be a lawyer!)
- Voy a salir (I’m going out)
- Vamos a trabajar (We are going to work)
- ¡Te va a encantar! (You are going to love it)
- Voy a mandar un mensaje de texto (I’m going to send a text message)
- Ellos van a cenar (They are going to eat dinner)
Now you have seen lots of examples for the usage of IR. Pay attention to this word in the next few days when listening to Spanish.
If you hear it all the time, and you hear the right way to conjugate it, it will stick very soon. And once it does, you will never have to think about conjugation again because the chunks you have learned today, and those you will learn by listening in the coming days, will roll off your tongue without you having to think about conjugation tables or other complex grammatical structures!
We have also made a video about when to use -IR vs -IRSE.
4. An overview of the common -IR verbs in Spanish
Now, I did tell you that you don’t need conjugation tables to learn ir and that’s really the case. If you learn through chunks, all conjugation forms will be securely saved in your memory and you won’t have to think about them when you need to conjugate ir.
However, it is sometimes helpful to have it as a quick reference to look up the right conjugation when in doubt. Don’t memorize the table, though!
This is what chunking is for, since it’s far easier to memorize chunks in sentences and being able to use them in a conversation than doing the same with a conjugation table. The reason is that, if you memorize it like that, every time you try to use the verb ir, in your head you’ll be like “yo voy, tú vas, él va, nosotros vamos”… which slows you down a LOT!
Here are all conjugations again for the verb IR:
- Yo voy
- Tú vas
- Él / Ella va
- Nosotros / Nosotras vamos
- Ustedes van
- Ellos / Ellas van
IR is one of the most important irregular verbs in Spanish. But wait, there are others! Other really important irregular verbs that you have to know and be able to use. Chunks to the rescue!
Let’s learn the 13 most important ones right now here.