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Published on: Grammar Bites

What’s the difference between ‘ir’ and ‘irse’?

Have you ever wondered why we sometimes add a “se” pronoun to ir or if it changes the meaning of this verb? You can stop wondering; we have the answers right here!

IR: 

As you know, we use the verb ‘ir’ to indicate a movement from one place to another. There’s a starting point (desde) and a destination point (a/hasta).

  • Él va desde su casa a la universidad en autobús. He takes the bus to go from his house to his university.
  • Nosotros vamos desde el sur hasta el centro de la ciudad. We’re going from the south of the city to the center.

We don’t always need to make the starting point explicit using desde:

  • Ellos irán al cine esta tarde. They will go to the movies this afternoon. (The starting point is irrelevant).

We can also use the verbo IR to discuss the future: IR + A

  • Ellos van a venir al pueblo este fin de semana. They’re coming to town this weekend.
  • Tú y Arturo van a casarse el sábado en la capilla del pueblo. You and Arturo are getting married on Saturday at the town’s chapel.
IRSE: 

When we add the pronoun, the verb takes on a slightly different meaning. We use IRSE to indicate we’re exiting, leaving from or abandoning a place: 

  • Estoy en la discoteca, pero ya es tarde y tengo que salir de aquí –> Me voy de aquí. I’m at the club, but it’s late and I need to leave –> I’m leaving / I’m going home.
  • Estamos de vacaciones en la Sierra y tenemos que regresar a nuestro hogar –> Nos vamos mañana por la mañana. We’re on vacations at the Sierra and we have to go home –> We’re leaving tomorrow morning.
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