Ir vs irse, irse vs salir – in this post you’ll learn everything you need to know about ‘going’ or ‘leaving’ in Spanish.
Long story very short, the translations of these three verbs are:
Ir (to go)
Irse (to leave or to go away)
Salir (to leave or to go out)
But, of course, there is much more to know with ir, irse, and salir apart from the direct translation, including a few nuances that are worth exploring.
In this article you’ll learn how to conjugate these verbs, you’ll get a look at the difference between irse and salir, and you’ll get some examples of how to use ir, irse, and salir in the imperative command form.
Reflexive verbs in Spanish
In English, you can recognise reflexive verbs from sentences that include ‘myself’, ‘yourself’, ‘ourselves’ etc.
When you compare a normal English verb with its reflexive form you will often only see a subtle change in meaning.
‘I did it’ vs ‘I did it myself’.
Notice how the second sentence implies an additional sense of pride in achievement and that the completed task was probably difficult to do.
In Spanish, something similar happens. But, the change in meaning can be much more dramatic, such as quedar vs quedarse, or acordar vs acordarse. As such, it is often better to think of them as completely separate verbs.
In the case of ir vs irse the change in meaning is subtle—both relate to the idea of moving away from somewhere. But, you will still need to be careful when using them.
You’ll see how to use these verbs shortly, but first, let’s look at how we should conjugate them.
Conjugations of ir vs irse
Ir is an irregular verb which means it’s conjugations require extra attention.
The conjugations of ir are:
|Él / Ella||He / she goes||Va|
To conjugate the reflexive form, irse, you’ll need to combine the normal form or ir with the set of reflexive pronouns as follows:
|Yo||I leave / go away||Me voy|
|Tú||You leave / go away||Te vas|
|Él / Ella||He / she leaves / goes away||Se va|
|Nosotros||We leave / go away||Nos vamos|
|Vosotros||You-all leave / go away||Os vais|
|Ellos||They leave / go away||Se van|
Memorising conjugations does take a little bit of effort.
My favourite method of memorising conjugations is to simply write them out on a piece of paper, cover them up, and then write them out on another piece of paper, as well as saying them out loud.
It may be slightly old fashioned, but it works.
To improve your memory, try using a few of these memory techniques.
Examples: How to use ir and irse
Generally, the use of the Spanish verb ir is pretty straightforward. In most instances, ir translates simply from the English verb ‘to go’. Here are a few examples of how you can use ir in a Spanish sentence:
English: I go to the bank two times per week.
Español: Voy al banco dos veces a la semana.
English: I’m going out (or I’m going to go out).
Español: Voy a salir esta noche.
English: This is the last day I go to university.
Español: Este es el último día que voy a la universidad.
English: Relax, you go with time to spare (or you have time to spare).
Español: Tranquilo, vas con tiempo de sobra.
Ir is also really helpful for talking about actions in the future.
In comparison, the Spanish verb irse translates from ‘to go away’ or ‘to leave’. Here are some uses for the reflexive form irse:
English: I’m leaving.
Español: Me voy.
English: I’m going away to Barcelona for the weekend.
Español: Me voy a Barcelona para el fin de semana.
English: What time did they leave?
Español: ¿A qué hora se fueron?
English: I am always left feeling sad when my father leaves for work.
Español: Siempre me quedo triste cuando mi padre se va al trabajo.
Irse vs salir
I mentioned earlier that there are subtleties worth exploring on this topic. Specifically, I was referring to the difference between irse and salir.
Both irse and salir translate to the English verb ‘to leave’, which means you are faced with an interesting choice.
Which verb should you use when you want to discuss leaving?
Firstly irse is broader, it is used to talk about leaving without an indication of where you are leaving from or going to. For example:
English: I have to leave.
Español: Me tengo que ir.
English: I turned around and they had gone.
Español: Me di la vuelta y se habían ido.
In contrast, salir is used to talk about leaving a specific place. For example:
English: I had to leave the bar because it was too crowded.
Español: Tuve que salir del bar porque estaba demasiado lleno.
English: The plane will leave Los Angeles at 3 pm and will arrive at Mexico City at 9 pm.
Español: El avión saldrá de Los Angeles a las 3 y llegará a Ciudad de México a las 9.
How to use these verbs in the command form
Another interesting area to investigate with these three verbs is how to command someone to leave.
Here is what you need to consider: Do you want someone to go away, leave your general area, or you do you need someone to do something specific, like go to the post office.
When using ir in command form you will be ordering them to go somewhere specific. Here’s how you can use the imperative form of ir:
English: Go to your room!
Español: ¡Ve a tu habitación!
When you use irse in command form, you are ordering them to go away, it doesn’t matter where you are:
English: Go away!
And lastly, salir in command form is used to ask something to leave a specific place:
English: Get out of the room! And close the door!
Español: ¡Sal de la habitación! ¡Y cierra la puerta!
Reflexive Spanish verbs take a little bit of getting used to.
When thinking of the difference between a normal verb and its reflexive form it is often best to treat them as completely separate verbs.
Are you going anywhere this week? Did you go away anywhere interesting? Or did you tell someone to ‘go to bed’ or to ‘get out’? Try out a few of these phrases in Spanish when you next get the change to help them stick in your memory.
How else can you use ir vs irse vs salir?