Spanish Grammar


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Ya in Spanish: Meanings and Usage

Ya in Spanish is an adverb that causes a lot of confusion among students of Spanish. In this article at our grammar resources section we are going to learn different meanings of the word ya in Spanish.

The main uses of ya can be placed in the past, present and future. Let’s look at them in more detail.

Ya in the Past (already)

It expresses a completed action in relation to the moment of speech. In this case we use the present perfect tense.

Ya he terminado mis deberes.

But you can also express a completed action before another one in the past by using the pluperfect indicative.

Cuando llegué a casa, tú ya habías hecho la cena.



Ya in the Present (now, not anymore)

We can also use ya to talk about an action that occurs at the same moment of speech. It is usually used with the imperative or expressions of obligation.

Llama ya a tus padres.

Ya puede usted entrar en la oficina.

When we use it in the negative form, we express that the action has been interrupted and is not active in the present.

Ya no vivo en Madrid.

Ya in the Future (soon)

The adverb ya can also express an action that will occur in the near future. With this usage, we indicate that we should be patient because it will eventually be fulfilled.

Ya aprobarás el examen DELE, no te preocupes.

Likewise, we can express that we are going to accomplish a task imminently.

—¡Venga! Termina, que no llegamos al concierto.

—¡Ya voy!

Ya as an Interjection

Ya in Spanish is primarily an adverb; however, it can also have other uses. Ya can be used as an interjection to express emotions. For example, disbelief (sure):

¿Has conocido a Lebron James en tus vacaciones? ¡Ya…!

When we use it repeatedly, we can indicate that we understand or agree (for sure) with what our interlocutor has informed us.

—Sabes que va a llover mañana, ¿verdad?

Ya, ya.

Ya as a Conjunction

The conjunction ya in Spanish is used to join different options (whether). When it joins verb clauses, verbs are used in the subjunctive to express the uncertainty of the option to be chosen.

Ya estudies español, ya estudies inglés, hazlo con un profesor especializado.

On the other hand, ya que introduces a subordinate clause of cause (because):

Debemos preparar la reunión del viernes, ya que es muy importante para la empresa.

Fixed Phrases with Ya

In colloquial language, there are set phrases containing the adverb ya in Spanish. Let’s look at some of them.

  • ¡Basta ya!: Estoy harto de ese ruido. ¡Basta ya!
  • ¡Anda ya!: ¿Tienes un primo en la NASA? ¡Anda ya!
  • ¡Corta ya!: Llevas media hora al teléfono. ¡Corta ya!
  • ¡Pues ya ves!: Pues ya ves, otra vez vamos a trabajar juntos.
  • Ya verás: Ya verás cómo apruebas el examen DELE con nuestros profesores.

As you can see, the word ya in Spanish has multiple meanings and uses. If you want to put them into practice, reserve conversation classes at You will learn and have fun. Ya verás.

Infographics about the word ya in Spanish: meanings and usage