12.4 Meanings of ya

The adverb ya, besides its meaning of “no longer” with the negative (ya no) and “because,” “as,” or “since” when combined with que to form a conjunction, may vary in translation according to the tense with which it is used. The tendency is for ya to mean “now” when used with a present tense or a command; “already” with any past tense (including the present perfect); and “later on” with a future tense.

¡Ya voy! I’m coming now!
¡Hágalo ya! Do it now!
Ya han llegado They have already arrived.
Ya viajamos a Martinica el año pasado. We already traveled to Martinique last year.
Ya te lo diremos. We’ll tell it to you later on.
Ya sabrás la respuesta. You’ll know the answer later on.

*Note in the first expression that, although the verb ir is used, the translation is “to come.” This is a fixed phrase and isolated case. Barring this example, the verbs ir and venir are never interchangeable, unlike in spoken, colloquial English. (Ya vengo is also heard and seen to mean “I’m coming,” but this does not present a translation problem.)

Last revised on June 24, 2021.