IR vs IRSE: When to Use Which?

IR vs IRSE: When to Use Which?

Maura, ¿te vas?
(Maura, are you leaving?)

Sí, justo estaba recogiendo.
(Yes, I was just tidying up.)

Vale, ¿vas a la conferencia mañana, no?
(Okay, you’re going to the conference tomorrow, right?)

Claro. Nos vemos allá.
(Of course. See you there.)

So, why did Alejandra ask “¿te vas?” the first time and “¿vas a…?” the second time si es el mismo verbo? (if it’s the same verb?)

I’m Maura, from Spring Spanish and in this video we’ll figure out how to chose between the reflexive version IRSE and non-reflexive version IR of the verb “ir” (to go). ¡Empecemos!

1. What does ir do?

Es mejor si todos van a la reunión.
(It’s better if everyone goes to the meeting.)

Yo voy y sé que Sandra también va. Le pregunto a los demás si van y te confirm.
(I am going and I know Sandra is also going. I’ll ask the others if they are going and I’ll confirm.)

Gracias. Por fa, diles que vamos en los carros de la compañía.
(Thank you. Please tell them we are going in the company cars.)

Vale, voy a hacer eso y te aviso en lo que sepa algo.
(Okay, I’m going to do that and let you know as soon as I know something.)

With “ir” everything’s quite straightforward. We use it to talk about where someone’s going. If we mention the place we’re going to we’ll use the preposition “a” :

  • Es mejor si todos van a la reunión. (It is better if everyone goes to the meeting.)
  • Yo voy. (I’m going.)
  • Sandra también va. (Sandra is also going.)
  • Le pregunto a los demás si van. (I’ll ask the others if they are going.)

También (also), we use it to refer to a mode of transportation. Para esto (for this) we would use the preposition “en”:

  • Vamos en carro. (We’re going by car.)
  • Voy a pie. (We’re going on foot.): this is the most common exception.
  • Quieren venir en taxi. (They want to come by taxi.)

Two things you should check out: primero (first), this video I made if you want to understand the difference between “a” and “en” a little better. Segundo (second), our free Essential Spanish Chunking kit through that link in the description. You’ll find our chosen must-know chunks in Spanish.

Ahora, ¿qué más hace “ir” cuando no es reflexivo? (Now, what else does “go” do when it is non-reflexive?) Right, it creates a future tense very similar to “going to”. We need a “voy a” again but you’ll follow it with a verb this time and not with a place:

  • Voy a hacer eso. (I’m going to do that.)
  • Ella va a llamar. (She’s going to call.)
  • Nosotros no vamos a ir. (We’re not going to go.)

Let’s check out the conjugation in a little table:

PronounConjugationChunk
Yo (I)Voy (I go)Hoy voy a pasear. (Today, I’m going to walk around.)
(You)Vas (You go)¿Vas a venir con nosotros? (Are you going to come with us?)
Él, Ella, Usted, Ello (He, She, Formal you, It)Va (He, She, You, It goes)Ella va al trabajo caminando. (She goes to work walking.)
Nosotros/Nosotras (We)Vamos (We go)Si vamos o no, depende de ti. (If you go or not, depends on you.)
Ustedes, Ellos/Ellas (Plural you, They)Van (You, They go)Ellas van a recoger a sus hermanas. (They are going to pick up their sisters.)

2. What does irse do?

Al final del video compararemos ambos verbos para que luego puedas practicar con ello un poco. (At the end of the video we will compare both verbs so that you can later practice with it a little bit.) Stick around for that.


Me voy corriendo. Dile a Carlos que termine esto, por fa.
(I’m going. (Lit.: I’m leaving running.) Tell Carlos to finish this, please.)

Carlos me dijo que tenía que irse también.
(Carlos told me he had to leave too.)

¿Será que ya se fue?
(Could it be that he has already left?)


No creo, él siempre se tarda en irse. Voy a ver si lo consigo.
(I don’t think so, he always takes a while to leave. I’ll see if I can find him.)

Chunk Alert!

We have to talk about me voy corriendo because the closest thing in English would be “I need to run” and that’s doesn’t do it for me. Me voy corriendo is the type of thing natives would say to mean they’re not just leaving but they’re also in a rush. That’s the purpose of the word “corriendo”. So, any time you feel you need to express both thoughts: having to leave plus being in a hurry, just use “me voy corriendo” like a native.

De vuelta a nuestro diálogo (Back to our dialogue), what was I using irse for? Each time I used it I meant someone was leaving a place. Es importante que notes (It’s important that you notice) that the place of origin for this idea  tends to be “here”, whatever “here” is in each case.

  • Me voy corriendo. (I’m going (Lit.: I’m leaving running.)
  • Carlos tenía que irse. (Carlos had to leave.)
  • ¿Será que ya se fue? (Could it be that he has already left?)
  • Él siempre se tarda en irse. (He always takes a while to leave.)

También ten en cuenta que (Also take into account that), being reflexive means combining the verb “ir” with a pronoun: me, te, se, nos, which turns the action onto the person who’s the subject. Let’s see some more examples in a little conjugation table:

3. Comparing Ir and Irse

Let’s quickly review what these verbs do, how they differ and how English understands them.

  • You don’t need an extra pronoun, like “me”, “te”, “se” with ir
    • Nosotras vamos más tarde. (We are going later.)
    • Ven con quien quieras. (Come with whomever you want.)
    • Nadie va a creer esto. (No one is going to believe this.)
  • You can’t use ir to leave a place. For this you must use irse:
    • Mejor me voy ya. (I better leave now.)
    • No te vayas sin avisarme. (Don’t leave without telling me.)
    • ¿Quiénes se quedan y quiénes se van? (Who stays and who leaves?)
  • When it comes to English, “irse” would mostly equate to “leave” and “ir” to “go”:
    • Prefiero irme sola. (I prefer to leave by myself.): we use “irme”, the reflexive version, so we translate it as “leave” in English.
    • No saben si van a comer aquí o fuera. (They don’t know if they are going to eat here or out.): “van” is non-relfexive so we translate it as “go” in English.
    • Váyanse en metro. (Go by subway.): same as before.

4. Quiz

Now, choose the correct option for each statement. Leave your answer in the comments and I’ll check them out for you:

1. You need to know at what time this person leaves, what should you ask:@

a- ¿Vas a las seis?

b- ¿Te vas a las seis?

2. I need to say that I’m going to the store early:

a- Voy a ir temprano.

b- Me voy a ir temprano.

3. We need to ask someone to ask something, how should we say it?:

a- No vamos a saber hasta que preguntes.

b- No nos vamos a saber hasta que preguntes.

4. You need your friend to know your other friends always take a taxi to leave your house:

a- Ellos siempre se van en taxi.

b- Ellos siempre van en taxi.

5. Now, similar to the previous example, but now you need your friend to know that your other friends always take taxis to go to work:

a- Ellos siempre se van en taxi.

b- Ellos siempre van en taxi.

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