Use YA in Spanish like a Native Speaker (Chunks with YA)

Use YA in Spanish like a Native Speaker (Chunks with YA)

MAURA’S CONSCIENCE
Maura… ya es hora de comulgar con tu consciencia.
(Maura… it is time to commune with your conscience.)

MAURA
Lo siento, pero ya estoy ocupada con otra cosa. ¿Podemos hablar luego?
(I’m sorry, but I’m already busy with something else. Can we talk later?)

MAURA’S CONSCIENCE
Ya que sueles ignorarme… no, no podemos hablar luego. Tiene que ser ya.
(Since you usually ignore me… no, we can’t talk later. It has to be now.)

So, we used ya four times and, at least three presented different meanings of this word. What’s up with ya, then? I really wanted us to talk about this little word because it is do terribly versatile.

Yo soy Maura, de Spring Spanish and by the time we’re done with this video, I promise you’ll have different ways to use this word and it’ll be simple enough so you can do it ¡ya! ¡Empecemos!

1. Using Ya when it comes to time in Spanish

MAURA’S CONSCIENCE
¿Ya estás lista?
(Are you ready now?)

MAURA
No, me falta poco, ya te aviso.
(No, I’m almost there, I’ll let you know soon.)

MAURA’S CONSCIENCE
Vale, entonces ya vengo.
(Okay, I’ll be right back then.)

MAURA
Ya estoy. ¿Qué quieres?
(I’m ready. What do you want?)

MAURA’S CONSCIENCE
Ya te lo dije, comulgar. Es hora de tu sesión semanal de introspección.
(I already told you, commune. It’s time for your weekly introspection session.)

Mi pequeña Pepe Grillo, que no me deja en paz, pero a quien le debo todo. (My little Jiminy Cricket, who won’t leave me alone, but to whom I owe everything.) She’s using ya to insist and to rush me. I’m using ya to fight that and manage time. Let’s take a look at what’s happening here.

a) When ya means now

Sometimes, both in our opening dialogue and in this one, we’re both using ya (now) to basically mean “now” in English. Just like this:

  • Tiene que ser ya. (It has to be now.)
  • ¿Ya estás lista? (Are you ready now?)
  • Ya estoy. (I’m ready now.)

Also in this way, we can say:

  • Ya veo. (I see now.)
  • Ya entiendo. (I understand now.)

b) When ya means already

We’re also using ya (already) when it means “already” in English, which is probably the first translation you would get for this word, si la buscases (if you’d looked for it):

  • Ya es hora de comulgar con tu consciencia. (It’s already time to commune with your conscience.)
  • Ya estoy ocupada con otra cosa. (I’m already busy with something else.)
  • Ya te lo dije. (I already told you.)

c) When ya means soon

Other times we’re using ya (soon) to mean soon, but so soon it’s almost now. Like:

  • Ya te aviso. (I’ll let you know soon.)
  • Ya vengo. (I’ll be back soon.)

Apart from those verbs, I daily do this with the following:

  • Ya te llamo. (I’ll call you soon.)
  • Ya te digo. (I’ll tell you soon.)

With these last examples, I even have a feeling of asking the other person for a second, ¿si me explico? (do I explain myself?) Like, if we say: ya te llamo (I’ll call you soon), we’re kind of also saying: give me a second and I’ll call you.

2. Everyday expressions with Ya in Spanish

Nos meteremos con el diálogo en un segundo (We’re going to jump into the dialogue in a second), but before, just know that you should watch until the end to understand what ya does if you use it on its own. It’s more than one thing, it depends on how you say it and they’re all rather common.

MAURA’S CONSCIENCE
Cuéntame, pues.
(Tell me, then.)

MAURA
¡Ya va! Es que, sinceramente, estoy muy tranquila últimamente y no sé qué contarte.
(Coming! It’s just that, honestly, I’ve been very calm lately and I don’t know what to tell you.)

MAURA’S CONSCIENCE
Ya decía yo.
(I knew it.)

MAURA
¿Qué cosa?
(What’s that?)

MAURA’S CONSCIENCE
Que se me hacía raro que ya no me estás preguntando cosas permanentemente.
(I thought it was strange that you were no longer asking me questions on a permanent basis.)

MAURA
Pues sí, es que es eso. Estoy muy tranquila últimamente y ya. ¿Quieres que hablemos sobre eso?
(Well, yes, that’s just it. I’m very calm lately and that’s it. Do you want to talk about it?)

To start, let’s recover a little expression from our opening dialogue:

  • Ya que sueles ignorarme. (Since you tend to ignore me.)

This ya que is quite useful in writing since it can serve as a substitute for porque (because). To understand this better I invite you to watch the video I made about all of our porqués.

Other examples with ya que would be:

  • Ya que está lloviendo, mejor cenamos en casa. (Since it’s raining, we better have dinner at home.)
  • Prefiero que hablemos ahora, ya que es posible que tenga que salir más tarde. (I’d rather we talk now, since it’s possible that I have to go out later.)

From this section’s dialogue, we can get as much as 4 different chunk expressions you can put in your pocket ya (now).

  • Ya va. (I’m coming/ I’m on it.)

Use this or its equivalent, ya voy, to mean you’re about to do whatever is being asked but you need a moment still.

Chunk Alert!

Ya decía yo. (I knew it. Lit.: I was already saying.) is a chunk worth of a chunk alert. Me tomó una eternidad conseguir una traducción para esto. (It took me forever to come up with a translation for this.) Using it will make you sound like a native Spanish speaker as only a few things could. So, go ahead and use it every time you want to say: I knew it! ¡Ya decía yo!

Maybe you already know, maybe you don’t, so click that link in the description and access our free Essential Chunking kit. You’ll get many more chunks as a gift!

One ya for which we do have an exact translation in English is:

  • Ya no me estás preguntando cosas permanentemente. (You are no longer asking me questions on a permanent basis.)

This ya no (not anymore / any longer) is English’s “not anymore” or “any longer”. You can put whatever you want afterwards and even ask questions, like:

  • ¿Ya no te gusta esta camisa? (You don’t like this shirt anymore?)

Another one which can also turn into a question is the one in this sentence:

  • Estoy muy tranquila últimamente y ya. (I’m very calm lately and that’s it.).

This y ya (and that’s it) means there’s nothing else and nothing more. But you can also ask if there’s anything else or anything more by simply saying:

  • ¿Y ya? (And that’s it?)

Juro que estoy sinceramente impresionada con ya. (I swear I’m honestly impressed with ya.) No creo que supiera el alcance de esta palabra antes de este video. (I don’t think I knew the scope of this word before this video.) Sin importar cuan nativa soy, aquí aprendemos todos juntos y al mismo tiempo. (No matter how much of a native I am, here we learn together and at the same time.)

3. When Ya is used by itself in Spanish

MAURA’S CONSCIENCE
¡Claro! Estar tranquila también merece atención.
(Of course! Being calm also deserves attention.)

MAURA
Ya, bueno, sí, no sé por qué pero no lo juzgo. Sé que puede cambiar y lo aprovecho mientras tanto.
(I understand, well, yes, I don’t know why but I don’t judge it. I know it can change and I take advantage of it in the meantime.)

MAURA’S CONSCIENCE
Eso está muy bien. Avísame cuando quieras indagar en ello.
(That’s all well and good. Let me know when you want to dig into it.)

MAURA
Ya.
(Now.)

MAURA’S CONSCIENCE
¿Ya?
(Now?)

MAURA
Pues sí, después que me presionaste y me sacaste de mi libro.
(Well yes, after you pressured me and pulled me out of my book.)

Ya, by itself, can mean many things. In this dialogue we have:

  • Ya, bueno, sí, no sé por qué pero no lo juzgo. (I understand, well, yes, I don’t know why but I don’t judge it.)

Here I said ya to mean: I understand. The tone needs to match that. Along with the context, this is how we can differentiate among them. Try saying it, like this: ya.

Our second ya was an answer to: Avísame cuando quieras indagar en ello. (Let me know when you want to dig into it.) When we answer ya to something like “when?”, it means “now”. When we ask ¿ya? it also means “now?”. Similarly, we can say that something’s ready now with this ya. For example, when someone tells you to do something, you can say ya to signal it’s done. Examples of this could be:

MAURA (off camera)
Ahora inserta cada lado en los agujeros.
(Now insert each side into the holes.)

MAURA
Ya.
(Done.)

MAURA (off camera)
¿A qué hora quieres salir?
(What time do you want to leave?)

MAURA
Ya.
(Now.)

The last ya I want you to understand, especially in case you run into it, is when ya means stop.

MAURA (getting tickled)
¡Ya!
(Stop!)

MAURA (talking to Margarito)
Margarito, ya. No puedes salir todavía.
(Margarito, stop it. You can’t go out yet.)

Depending on the situation this ya (stop it / enough / shut up) could mean: stop it, enough, shut up, or anything similar.

Summary

How to use ya in Spanish

When ya talks about time, it can mean “now”, “very soon” or “already”:

  • Ya estoy lista. (I’m ready now.)
  • Ya te llamo. (I’ll call you soon.)
  • Ya me contaron lo que pasó. (I was already told what happened.)

Ya que means ”since”:

  • Compramos tofu, ya que la mayoría no come carne. (We bought tofu, since most of them don’t eat meat.)

Ya va and ya voy mean “wait” and “I’m coming” at the same time:

  • Ya voy, casi termino. (I’m coming, I’m almost done.)

Ya no means “not anymore”:

  • Lo siento, pero ya no te quiero. (I’m sorry, but I don’t love you anymore.)

Y ya means “that’s it”:

  • Tengo que ducharme, vestirme y ya. (I have to take a shower, get dressed, and that’s it.)

By itself, ya can mean “I understand”, “now” and “stop”:

  • Ya, ahora tiene sentido. Gracias por explicarme. (I understand, now it makes sense. Thanks for explaining it to me.)
  • ¿Cuando? ¿Ya? (When? Now?)
  • Ya, por favor. (Stop it, please.)

¡No puedo creer que ya lo logramos! (I can’t believe we made it already!) This was hard for me, you guys. Ya is such a crazy word. Ya que (since) it most famously means “already”, how about continuing this lesson by comparing ya (already), aún (yet) y todavía (and still) with Juan in this upcoming lesson with him! Click the image on the screen to get there!

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