Even though it has a direct translation into English, many new Spanish speakers struggle to understand the meaning and the uses of todavía in Spanish. Part of this problem is caused by the fact that this word has different applications depending on the elements that it’s working with. So, with this in mind, what does todavía mean in Spanish?
In Spanish, ‘todavía’ conveys continuity. It is translated as ‘still’ when used to express that an action or event which started in the past continues in the present. Its negative form ‘todavía no’ means ‘still not’ or ‘yet’ as it’s used to point out that events that began in the past have not finished or ended.
‘Todavía’ is a very useful word that will help you improve your grammar and your fluency when talking. So, in this article, I’ll explain to you what ‘todavía’ means and how to use it. Of course, I’ll make sure to add some examples so you can see its real applications.
By the end, you’ll have a better idea of when and how to use this word in your daily conversations.
What does todavía mean in Spanish?
As established before, depending on how it’s being used, todavía could mean either ‘still’ or ‘yet’. To determine the meaning of this word, you have to pay close attention to the elements that are being used in your sentence:
¡No estoy lista! Todavía tengo que comer.
I’m not ready! I still have to eat.
Sofía todavía está cansada.
Sofia is still tired.
Nosotros todavía no terminamos, ¿ustedes ya?
We haven’t finished yet, have you?
Todavía no he podido ir a visitar a mi familia.
I haven’t been able to visit my family yet.
If you check these examples, you’ll notice that we use ‘todavía’ in affirmative sentences to describe that something that started in the past is still happening at the moment of speaking. On the other hand, negative sentences (‘todavía no’) express that an action that started in the past hasn’t been completed.
In addition to these standard meanings, Spanish speakers use ‘todavía’ in informal situations as a casual way to emphasize a sentence. In these contexts, ‘todavía’ means ‘on top of’ or ‘if’.
Todavía que he tenido un día pesado, tengo que llegar a limpiar y lavar.
On top of having a difficult day, I have to go to my house to clean and do laundry.
Todavía si fuera rico, podría comprar esos zapatos.
If I were rich, I would be able to buy those shoes.
Take Note: In Spanish, the opposite of ‘todavía’ is ya no since this expression describes that someone doesn’t do something anymore. However, the opposite of ‘todavía no’ is ya. In this case, ‘ya’ expresses that an action is already finished.
Just like ‘todavía’, ‘ya’ is a very important word that will help you communicate your ideas better. It also has different meanings depending on the context and whether you say ‘ya’ or ‘ya no’. (yup, ‘ya’ works with ‘no’, too!) So make sure you also know how to use ‘ya’ in Spanish.
How to Use ‘Todavía’ in Spanish
Here are the main uses and meanings of ‘todavía’ in Spanish:
- ‘Todavía’ means ‘still’ when used to express that past action is still or continues to be the same in the present.
- ‘Todavía no’ means ‘yet’ and it describes that a past action hasn’t been completed.
- In casual conversations, ‘todavía’ is used to emphasize statements and it can be translated as ‘if’, ‘in addition to’ or ‘on top of’.
In the sections below, I’ll provide you more information on how to apply ‘todavía’ to each one of these situations.
1. Expressing that a past action is still continues in the present
In Spanish, one of the most important uses of ‘todavía’ is to express that a past activity, situation, event or behavior is still the same as it was before. So in this context, ‘todavía’ is the direct translation of ‘still’.
Here are some examples and a phrase structure that you can use to build this meaning. Notice that in this case, the verb needs to be conjugated to the present tense:
[Todavía] + [verb in present tense] + [complement]
Todavía vivo en México.
I still live in Mexico.
La banda de José todavía toca en el mismo bar.
José’s band still plays in the same bar.
Marta y Víctor todavía estudian español en Costa Rica.
Marta en Victor are still studying Spanish in Costa Rica.
Todavía me gustan los perros.
I still like dogs.
Carlos todavía se pone triste cuando escucha esa canción.
Carlos still gets sad when he listens to that song.
If you check the previous examples, you’ll notice that all of these activities started in the past and still remain or continue happening in the present. Let’s see example #1. By using ‘todavía’, I’m expressing that I started to live in Mexico somewhere in the past and I’m still living here.
2. Describe that a past action hasn’t been completed
In its negative form, ‘todavía’ means ‘yet’. In other words, we use todavía no to express that a past action hasn’t been completed yet. As a result, this meanings tends to be used to talk about:
- Personal objectives that you set for yourself and that you haven’t achieved.
- Habits that you haven’t quit.
- Actions or tasks that you’re supposed to complete, but you haven’t done them.
Usually, ‘todavía no’ works with the Spanish present perfect tense. Here are some basic structures and examples so you see how to apply this word:
[Todavía no] + [verb in the present perfect]
Todavía no le hablado a mi hermano.
I haven’t called my brother yet.
Karla todavía no ha viajado al extranjero.
Karla hasn’t traveled abroad yet.
Todavía no hemos aprendido a hablar otro idioma.
We haven’t learned to speak a new language yet.
¿Todavía no has terminado de comer?
Haven’t you finished eating yet?
As another option, you can use the verb dejar to talk about the habits or actions that you haven’t quit. This is how you do it:
[Todavía no] + [‘dejar’ in present perfect tense] + de + [habit]
Martín todavía no ha dejado de fumar.
Martin hasn’t stopped smoking yet.
Todavía no he dejado de beber refrescos.
I haven’t stopped drinking sodas yet.
Although ‘todavía no’ usually works with the present perfect tense, Latin American Spanish speakers also combined this structure with simple present. This small change doesn’t affect the meaning, todavía estamos expresando that an action hasn’t been completed.
Todavía no encuentro mi celular.
I haven’t found my phone yet.
Gracias por preguntar, pero todavía no sabemos nada.
Thanks for asking, but we don’t know anything yet.
Learning how to use ‘todavía no’ can be very difficult for new Spanish speakers since they tend to confuse it with ‘ya no’. Although ‘ya’ and ‘todavía’ work together in some contexts, these words cannot be used interchangeably.
For that reason, in this article, I explain how to use ya in Spanish. Make sure you read it so you avoid common mistakes when using these words.
3. Emphasize statements
In conversational and informal situations, ‘todavía’ is used to emphasize our statements. Overall, we use this meaning to introduce conditional statements or to complain about something or someone.
In these situations, ‘todavía’ can be translated as ‘if’ or ‘on top of’. Here are some examples of this meaning:
¿Todavía que te voy a ayudar en tu trabajo quieres que te ayude a cocinar?
On top of helping you out in your work, do you also want me to help you cook?
Armando perdió mi reloj favorito y todavía quiere que le preste otro.
Armando lost my favorite watch and on top of that, he wants me to lend him another one.
Los boletos de avión fueron muy baratos, pero Carlos todavía quería un descuento.
Plane tickets were very cheap, and still Carlos wanted a discount.
¿Por qué estás tan estresado? Todavía si tuvieras deudas o problemas, te entendería.
Why are you so stressed? If you had debts or issues, it’d make sense.
Don’t forget that this meaning is only used in informal situations 😉
Todavía: Idiomatic Expressions
In addition to applications that we’ve learned so far, there are some useful idiomatic expressions with ‘todavía’ that you may want to learn. Notice that, in this case, ‘todavía’ doesn’t hold the same meanings that you learned before since it’s an idiom.
|Más difícil todavía||Even more difficult|
|Todavía ayer||Even yesterday|
|Todavía más||Even more|
|Todavía menos||Even less|
Take Note: With ‘todavía ayer’, you can replace ‘ayer’ for any amount of time you want. (e.g. last night, last week, last month, etc.)
Todavía la semana pasada tratamos de comprar nuestros vuelos.
Even last week we tried to buy our tickets.
Todavía and todavía no are very important words in Spanish. For that reason, in this article, we’ve learned how and when to use each one of these words. Here are some key points to keep in mind when using these words:
- In affirmative sentences, ‘todavía’ means ‘still’.
- Todavía no is the direct translation of ‘yet’.
- We use ‘todavía’ + present tense to express that an activity or behavior that started in the past still continues in the present.
- ‘Todavía no + present perfect’ is used to talk about actions, goals or tasks that you were supposed to complete at some point in the past but you haven’t done.
- ‘Todavía + dejar’ is used to talk about the habits that we haven’t stopped or quit yet.
- In informal contexts, ‘todavía’ can be used to emphasize statements.
Now you’re ready to start including ‘todavía’ in your conversations.