When should I use “ya”? And what about “todavía”? Telling the difference between these two Spanish adverbs might be challenging for some learners, especially because literal translations into Spanish aren’t always correct.
As similar as they can be, learning the difference between these two words is crucial for having fluent conversations in everyday Spanish. And, luckily, iAmigo School is here to help you! So, keep reading if you’d like to finally master the nuances of “ya” and “todavía”.
The first thing you need to know is that these two words are adverbs of time in Spanish… but what does that mean? In this case, it means that “ya” and “todavía” are used to talk about an action that’s important in two moments in time. That means we usually use these adverbs to compare the past and the present.
Sounds a little confusing? Don’t worry! After reading this article, you’ll master how and when to use these words in Spanish and their negative forms (i.e. “ya no” “todavía no”), so you won’t have to worry about making mistakes while speaking with your Spanish-speaking friends. Let’s start!
Ya and Todavía in Spanish
1. How To Use "Ya" in Spanish
When and where have you heard this word? Usually, the word “ya” in Spanish implies that something has been done in the past, and, as you can imagine, the equivalent in English is “already”. Here, look at some sentences with this use in Spanish:
- Ya he trabajado ocho horas hoy.
I’ve already worked for 8 hours today.
- Ella ya comió dulces hoy, no le des más.
She already ate candy today, don’t give her more.
- Nosotros ya fuimos a París.
We already went to Paris.
- Ellos ya tocaron esta canción.
They already played this song.
- Ya terminé mi tarea.
I already finished my homework.
Tip: As you can see, “ya” is followed by a verb (ex. comer) in this case. In Spanish, we conjugate this verb either in simple past (pretérito perfecto, ex. comí) or compound past (pasado compuesto, ex. he comido). Now you can easily identify this use of “ya” in Spanish!
Sometimes “ya” is used to indicate something related to or happening in the moment you’re speaking. Using this in the present tense, the literal translation of “ya” in Spanish is “now”. Let’s take a look at these easy examples:
- ¡Quiero mi comida ya!
I want my food now!
- Ya salió el nuevo videojuego.
The new video game is out now.
- Debes venir ya a la casa.
You must come to the house now.
- ¡Ya detente!
Tip: This use is more common in imperative sentences in Spanish.
So, now you know how to ask your Spanish-speaking friends to invite you to their home country. You just have to say: “¡Invítame ya! Por favor”. Really useful, right?
This adverb is also used to talk about a possible or expected future in Spanish. So, in this case, “ya” is followed by a verb conjugated in future, usually indicating someone’s desires or wishes. Take a look at our comprehensive examples:
- Ya conocerás a tu príncipe azul.
You’ll soon meet your prince charming
- Ya te llamarán de ese trabajo.
They will call you back from that job soon.
- Ya serás el mejor de la clase.
You will be top of the class in the future.
- Ya habrá tiempo para jugar.
There’ll be time to play.
- Ya conoceremos Europa algún día.
We’ll visit Europe someday.
2. The Adverb "Ya" in Its Negative Form
Now we’re moving on to “ya” in its negative form in Spanish.
“Ya no” is a useful Spanish expression to talk about an action that used to be done but is no longer done. In English, it roughly translates to “not anymore” or “no longer” because it refers to an action or something that isn’t valid anymore. Let’s learn in context with these examples in Spanish:
- Ya no te amo.
I don’t love you anymore.
- A Joaquín ya no le gusta tocar el piano.
Joaquín doesn’t like to play the piano anymore.
- Nosotros ya no te creemos nada.
We don’t believe you anymore.
- Desde que tienen hijos, Pedro y Ana ya no salen fiestas.
Ever since they have children, Pedro and Ana don’t go to parties.
- Mi perro ya no muerde mis muebles.
My dog doesn’t bite my furniture anymore.
3. How To Use "Todavía" in Spanish
Does “todavía” sound familiar to you? “Todavía” is used when the past continues in the present, so it means that there hasn’t been any changes. In English, the most accurate translation would be “still”. Very different from “ya”, right?
Here, take a look at some real-life examples in Spanish:
- Ellos todavía están casados.
They are still married.
- Juana todavía está en el trabajo.
Juana is still at work.
- Nosotros todavía queremos comer.
We still want to eat.
- ¿Ustedes todavía quieren salir a caminar?
Do you still want to go out for a walk?
- ¿Crees que todavía está lloviendo?
Do you think it’s still raining?
4. The Adverb "Todavía" in Its Negative Form
Similar to “ya”, “todavía” has another use or meaning when used before “no”. In this case, “todavía no” in Spanish is similar to “yet” in English. It can be used to talk about something that’ll happen in the future but hasn’t been done yet.
Sounds like it’ll come in handy, right? Learn more with our sample sentences in Spanish:
- No, todavía no he almorzado.
No, I haven’t had lunch yet.
- Todavía no le he dicho que la amo.
I haven’t told her that I love her yet.
- Todavía no ha viajado a Latinoamérica.
She hasn’t traveled to Latin America yet.
- Andrés y María todavía no tienen hijos.
Andrés and María don’t have children yet.
Got that? We know you did!
Another way of using “todavía no” in Spanish is when you want to say a negative sentence with “still”, which means something remains undone.
Here are some examples of “todavía no” in Spanish, take notes!
- ¿Ya compraste un carro? No, todavía no tengo carro.
Did you buy a car? No, I still don’t have a car.
- ¿Todavía no has terminado tu tarea?
Still haven’t finished your homework?
- Todavía no quiero salir con él.
I still don’t want to date him / go out with him
That’s a lot of information, isn’t it? It is but it’s actually a lot easier than you think! So, here we’ve summarized all the information that you need to master “ya” and “todavía” in Spanish:
Word and Example
Ya – Ya sabe escribir.
Antes no sabía escribir, ahora sí sabe
He didn’t know how to write before, now he knows.
Ya no – Ya no me gusta la pizza.
Antes sí me gustaba la pizza, ahora no.
He liked it before, he doesn’t like it now.
Todavía – Todavía nos amamos.
Nos amábamos antes, nos amamos ahora.
We loved each other before, we love each other now.
Todavía no – Todavía no cenamos.
Antes no cenamos, ahora no cenamos.
We didn’t have dinner before, we aren’t having dinner now.
Time to Practice!
You feel like your confidence with “ya” and “todavía” is growing? We know it is! Now, let’s look at this real-life conversation in which these two adverbs are used in Spanish.
Uses in Daily Life
- María: ¡Hola, Lorena! Hace muchos años no nos vemos.
- Lorena: ¡Hola, María! Es cierto ¿Cómo estás?
- María: ¡Muy bien! ¿Cómo vas en la Universidad?
- Lorena: Ya terminé la Universidad. Me gradúo en Abril.
- María: ¡Genial! Me alegra mucho ¿Todavía vives con tus padres?
- Lorena: No, ya no. Me mudé, ahora vivo sola ¿Y tú?
- María: Yo todavía no me he mudado, vivo con mi familia.
As you can see in this conversation, you can use “ya”, “ya no”, “todavía”, and “todavía no” to find out what’s happening in your Spanish-speaking friend’s life after not seeing or keeping in touch with them for a long time. That’s really useful, right? It sure is, so who will you practice your new Spanish skills with? Let us know!
If you learned a lot of new and useful phrases with this article, make sure to check out one of our other useful articles. You’ll always learn something new!