Posted by: janecronin | September 3, 2017


Since we talked about “ir” (to go) last week, it seems only right to look at its opposite “venir” (to come) this week.   This was the first word I remember learning when I came to live in Spain.  On day two I went to the beach and was sunbathing next to a woman with a small child, who spend the entire afternoon shouting “Javier, ven aquí” at him, without ever moving from the spot. “Ven” is the imperative, or command form of “venir” and you can’t go near Spanish people with children or dogs without hearing it.  Of course, it can be confusing, as a friend said to me some years ago: “There are a lot of dogs round here called Ben”.

Another very frequent use of the verb “venir” is in the phrase “que viene” meaning “which comes” or “coming” when referring to time.   “La semana que viene” (the coming week, or next week), “el mes que viene”, “el año que viene”, “el martes que viene” and so on.

As far as different tenses are concerned “venir” is somewhat non-conformist in places.  In the present tense it is what we call a “root-changing” verb, hence “he, she or it comes” is “viene” with an added letter “i”.  In the preterite, or past simple, tense it is irregular with the root becoming just the “i”.  This means that “he, she or it came” is “vino”.  You will instantly recognise this word as it also, quite coincidentally, means “wine”.  Therefore “the wine came” is “el vino vino” or “vino el vino” depending on which way round you say it.

Something odd about the use of “venir” for English speakers is that we often say “come” in English when the Spanish would use “ir” (go).   To give you an example of what I mean, I remember once phoning up someone with whom I had an appointment and saying “Perdona, no puede venir para mi cita mañana” (I’m sorry I can’t come for my appointment tomorrow ).  She immediately corrected me “No Jane, es – no puedo IR mañana”.  It took me a while to register what she was actually correcting, but I eventually realised that according to Spanish logic I should be saying  “I can´t go tomorrow”.  The typical English “I can’t come” is as though I am speaking from the point of view of the other person, and not from my own point of view – think about it!

There is one more classic form of “venir” which we hear around us all the time, the word “venga”.  This is actually a subjunctive form and as such is a formal command.  “Venga conmigo” is the polite way to say “come with me”.  However, rather like the word “vaya” that we saw last week, it has become one of those padding words that often has very little meaning.   So when you hear “vale, venga, vamos ” interspersed in a conversation, you are hearing the equivalent of  “right, well, okay”.


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