Ya, todavía or aún? Which should you use?

If you're unsure about when to use each of the adverbs "ya", "todavía" and "aún", be sure to check out this lesson. We promise you'll finally get it!

Apr 27, 2021
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Have you ever had difficulty deciding between using any of these three adverbs? Let’s see why they are different and how to use them.


"Ya" is a word with many uses and meanings -you can find them all in this YouTube class we made for you guys. In this post we will focus on the use it has when we want to indicate that an action has materialized and that it is not as it was before, has changed.

  • Yo ya hice la tarea.
    I already did my homework.
    (It wasn't done before, but now it's finished.)
  • Ellos ya llegaron.
    They're already here.
    (They weren't here before but now they are.)

"Ya no" refers to something that existed or was happening in the past, but no longer exists or is not happening anymore.

  • Ella ya no te quiere.
    She doesn't love you anymore.
    (She used to love you, but not anymore.)
  • Ya no tenemos hambre, ya comimos.
    We’re no longer hungry, we already ate.
    (We were hungry, but not anymore.)

In the previous examples we see how "ya" indicates that something is not as before, that at the present time the conditions are different. "Ya" is the result of change.

Todavía / aún

"Todavía" indicates an action that began in the past and that connects or continues at another particular time. It does not consider results, "todavía" considers developing action.

  • Todavía estoy haciendo la tarea.
    I'm still doing my homework.
    (My homework is still in the process of being finished.)
  • A las 8 de la noche el concierto todavía no había empezado.
    At 8 pm the concert hadn’t yet begun.
    (Up to that moment, the concert hadn't started.)

"Aún" and "todavía" are synonyms and can be used interchangeably with the meaning of "still" and "yet".

  • Aún estoy haciendo la tarea.
    I'm still doing my homework.
  • A las 8 de la noche el concierto aún no había empezado.
    At 8 pm the concert hadn’t yet begun.

However, we could say that the use of "aún" is a bit more common in the spoken language.

Are we there yet?: ¿Ya llegamos? Or ¿Llegamos todavía?

In English it is common to use "yet" in interrogative phrases to indicate that the person speaking was waiting for something to happen. In Spanish, there is a difference between the type of interrogative phrase we are using.

Affirmative questions seek to deduce whether an action ended or was completed, therefore, we must use "ya" to express this.

  • ¿Ya llegamos?
    Are we there yet?
  • ¿Ya recibiste el paquete?
    Have you received the package yet?

The negative questions with "yet" indicate that we believe that the action has not been completed although it should have been finished by now, for this it is necessary to use "todavía" because the action has not materialized. It is also very common to use past perfect -haber + participio- with this type of phrase.

  • ¿Todavía no ha llegado Ana?
    Hasn’t Anna arrived yet?
  • ¿No has hecho el examen todavía?
    Haven't you taken the exam yet?

Then, for future references, you can use "ya" in affirmative questions and "todavía/ aún" in negative questions using "yet".

Now that you've learned about the differences between these adverbs, go to our exercise section to practice and put your knowledge to the test!

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