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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

¡Vamos! Ten easy but very useful ways to use this great word in Spanish

You may know it as Rafa Nadal’s battle cry, but this verb is used loads in daily spoken Spanish. Here are some of its most common uses to help you sound like a local.

¡Vamos! Ten easy but very useful ways to use this great word in Spanish
Rafa Nadal and his fans both shout ¡Vamos!, one to celebrate and the other to motivate. But vamos has plenty more uses in Spanish. Photo: Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

This may be one of the first words you learnt in Spanish after hola and cerveza

If you didn’t know already, vamos is the first person plural form of the verb to go in Spanish (ir). 

It’s the same in the present tense – nosotros vamos (we go)  and in the imperative -¡Vamos! (go or let’s go). 

But vamos is used in all kinds of circumstances and in expressions by Spaniards, here are the most useful and common ones. 

¡Vamos! – Yes!

As we mentioned earlier, if you’ve ever watched Spanish tennis star Rafa Nadal celebrate a point, you will have seen that he sometimes shouts ¡Vamos!. It’s like exclaiming ‘yes!’ or ‘get in!’ when you win at something.

Example: 

¡Vamos! ¡Qué golazo!

Yes! What a goal!

Vamos – Let’s go or Let’s do it

Obviously it’s primary usage as an imperative verb is very handy. If you want to instigate the people with you to go somewhere or get a move on, you can simply say vamos. Equally, if you want to motivate someone you’d say ¡vamos!.

Example:

Vamos, que se hace tarde.

Come on/Let’s go, it’s getting late.

or

¡Vamos, equipo! ¡Qué podeis ganar! 

Come one team, let’s do it! You can win!

¿Vamos? – Shall we go?

If you want to ask people if you should all go, simply change the intonation to make it a question.

Example:

Hay un concierto el viernes. ¿Vamos?

There’s a concert on Friday. Shall we go?

Vamos a…- We’re going to…

Add ‘a’ and then the place you’re heading to, and you can express in the most commonly used way in Spanish where you’re going to

Example:

Vamos a la playa. ¿Te apuntas?

We’re going to the beach. Want to join us?

¡Vamos! – Seriously!

Vamos can also be used as an interjection at the start of a sentence to summarise or emphasise a point. 

Example:

¡Vamos, qué tontería!

Seriously, how stupid!

or

Vamos, que si no le pago me va a echar del equipo.

So yes, if I don’t pay him he’s going to kick me out of the team.

Ahí vamos – Just keep on trucking

Here’s a reply people used when asked how they are or how things are going and they want to denote that they’re still ordinary, boring, challenging or negative in some way.

¿Qué cómo me va? Ahí vamos, lo de siempre.

How are things, you ask? Same as always, just keep trucking.

Al paso que vamos – At this rate

Here’s a handy expression to use when things are moving very slowly.

Example:

Al paso que vamos no llegamos hasta pasado mañana.

At this rate we won’t get there until the day after tomorrow.

Así no vamos a ninguna parte – We’re getting nowhere like this

This is usually used metaphorically in an argument or situation to suggest that things aren’t progressing or being solved.

Example:

Así no vamos a ninguna parte, primero tienes que dejar de fumar.

We’re getting nowhere like this, first you’ve got to quit smoking.

¿Qué le vamos a hacer? – What can you do?

Usually accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders, this vamos expression is used when saying that nothing can be done or changed.

Example:

¿Qué le vamos a hacer? Después de todo, es su padre.

What can you? He’s her father after all. 

¡Adónde vamos a parar! – What will become of us? or When will this end?

If you want to rhetorically ask when a bad situation will come to an end, this is what you shout out in Spanish. 

Example:

La factura de la luz es más cara todos los meses. ¡A dónde vamos a parar!

The electricity bill is more expensive every month. When will this end?

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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Spanish Word of the Day: Chungo

This adjective is essential slang talk in Spain, a word with lots of meanings, all of them fairly negative.

Spanish Word of the Day: Chungo

Chungo is a colloquial way of saying that something is difficult, dodgy or bad. 

It can be used to describe a variety of scenarios and it’s a great way of talking like a native Spanish speaker. 

You can talk about the weather being chungo if there are ominous black clouds up ahead.

If you’re stepping into a dodgy neighbourhood, then watch out because it’s un barrio chungo

If you bought a hairdryer at the rastro (flea market) and it doesn’t work properly, then it’s clearly chungo, and the seller is just as chungo.

Maybe you’ve just sat an exam with complicated questions, you’d call it un examen chungo.

Or if you don’t feel very well, then you’re the one that is chungo

There’s even an expression to say that things aren’t looking good – la cosa está chunga.

All in all, chungo is a very versatile adjective that you can incorporate into most daily speech even though it’s colloquial. 

Here are some examples to help you get used to using chungo.

Example:

Está el tiempo un poco chungo, mejor no vamos a la playa.

The weather isn’t very good today, it’s best if we don’t go to the beach. 

Example:

¡Ojo! Es un tío bastante chungo así que no te fíes de él.

Be careful! He’s a pretty dodgy guy so don’t trust him. 

Example:

Le has comprado un perfume muy chungo a mamá por el Día de la Madre.

You’ve bought Mum a really crappy perfume for Mother’s Day.

Example:

El barrio de El Príncipe en Ceuta es muy chungo, ¡ten cuidado!

El Príncipe neighbourhood in Ceuta is very dodgy, be careful!

 

Example:

Me encuentro un poco chungo, con mareos y nauseas. 

I’m feeling a bit bad, I’m dizzy and nauseous. 

Example:

¿Dama de honor cuando el novio es tu ex? ¡Qué situación más chunga!

Maid of honour when the groom is your ex? ¡That’s an uncomfortable situation!

Example:

¡La cosa está chunga! El Barça tiene que marcar cinco goles para clasificarse.

Things aren’t looking good. Barça have to score five goals to qualify.

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