What’s the difference between ir and venir?

The verbs ir and venir can be translated as the English verbs go and come respectively. They both express the movement of something or someone from point A to point B using the speaker’s location as the point of reference. Master the difference between these two Spanish verbs with Lingolia’s quick and easy examples, then put your knowledge to the test in the exercises.

Mi primo Luis y yo vivimos en la Sierra de Madrid, pero en pueblos distintos. Todos los domingos nos visitamos. A veces voy yo a verlo a él, y otras veces, viene él a verme a mí.

ir: movement away from the speaker

The verb ir can be translated as the English go. The key things to remember when using the verb ir in Spanish are:

  • it expresses movement from an origin (point A), to a destination (point B);
    Example:
    Voy de casa (inicio) al trabajo (destino) en autobús.I go from home (origin) to work (destination) on the bus.
  • this movement is always in the direction away from the speaker, i.e. the speaker is not present at the final destination;
    Example:
    Carla va de Madrid a Toledo en tren.Carla is going from Madrid to Toledo on the train.
  • we use the preposition a to indicate the destination of the movement (similar to the English to).
    Example:
    Queremos ir a Menorca de vacaciones.We want to go to Menorca on holiday.

In Spanish, the verb ir is also used to make spontaneous suggestions, similar to the English shall we?

Example:
—Este sábado estrenan una película. ¿Vamos al cine?–This Saturday they’re releasing a film. Shall we go to the cinema?

We also use ir to accept or decline such a suggestion.

Example:
—Este sábado estrenan una película. ¿Vamos al cine?
—Me parece buena idea. ¡Vamos! / —Vaya, este sábado no puedo ir; ya tengo planes.–Sounds like a good idea. Let’s go! / –Oh no, I can’t go this Saturday; I already have plans.

venir: movement towards the speaker

The verb venir can be translated with the English come. The key things to remember when using the verb venir in Spanish are:

  • it expresses movement from an origin (point A), to a destination (point B);
    Example:
    Ha venido una amiga de Londres a visitarme a Madrid.A friend from London came to Madrid to visit me.
  • this movement is always towards the speaker when they are present at the final destination (point B);
    Example:
    Mis padres vienen todos los domingos a casa.My parents come to mine every Sunday.
    venir: point A: parents’ home → point B: my home
    But:
    Los padres de Laura van todos los domingos a su casa.Laura’s parents go to hers every Sunday.
    ir: the speaker is external and thus not present at the destination (Laura’s home)
  • we use venir together with the preposition de to express the point of origin, similar to the English from;
    Example:
    Venimos de casa de Marta.We came from Marta’s house.
  • the preposition de can also indicate someone’s origin.
    Example:
    Los músicos vienen de Bolivia. (los músicos son de Bolivia)The musicians come from Bolivia. (the musicians are from Bolivia.)

The verb venir is also used to invite someone to participate in a pre-existing plan or event.

Example:
—El sábado voy al cine con Silvia. ¿Vienes?–On Saturday I’m going to the cinema with Silvia. Do you want to come?
—Me parece buena idea: ¡voy!Sounds good to me: I’ll come!

Info

The verbs ir and venir work in parallel to the verbs llevar and traer (take and bring). These verbs also express the movement of a person or thing in relation to the location of the speaker.

How to conjugate ir and venir

Below are the present, past and future conjugations of the verbs ir and venir. Use Lingolia’s verb conjugator to see the conjugations for all tenses in both the indicative and subjunctive moods.

IR present imperfect preterite future
yo voy iba fui iré
vas ibas fuiste irás
él, ella, usted va iba fue irá
nosotros/-as vamos íbamos fuimos iremos
vosotros/-as vais ibais fuisteis iréis
ellos/-as, ustedes van iban fueron irán
VENIR present imperfect preterite future
yo vengo venía vine vendré
vienes venías viniste vendrás
él, ella, usted viene venía vino vendrá
nosotros/-as venimos veníamos vinimos vendremos
vosotros/-as venís veníais vinisteis vendréis
ellos/-as, ustedes vienen venían vinieron vendrán