Difference between ‘Vamos’ and ‘Vámonos’ in Spanish


For many new and experienced Spanish learners, vamos and vámonos may appear to mean the same thing. However, these words come from different forms of the same verb and, as a result, they have different purposes and meanings. Since they can’t be applied in the same contexts, many Spanish learners wonder what’s the difference between ‘vamos’ and ‘vámonos’ in Spanish. 

‘Vamos’ is the verb ‘ir’ in one of its present tense forms. It means ‘we go’. It is also used as an expression to cheer someone on. In this context, ‘vamos’ could mean ‘go’ or ‘come on’. ‘Vámonos’ is the imperative form of ‘irse’. It means ‘let’s leave’ or ‘let’s go’. 

When learning Spanish, it’s difficult to see the difference in meaning between ‘vamos’ and ‘vámonos’. But since these words are quite popular and commonly used on a daily basis, it’s important to learn when to apply each of them, respectively. 

For that reason, in the following sections, we’ll explain to you the difference between these words. Additionally, we’ll provide you with examples so you have a better idea about the context where you can use them. By the end of this, you will have a better understanding of ‘vamos’ and ‘vámonos’. 

What’s the Difference Between ‘Vamos’ and ‘Vámonos’ in Spanish?

Although they look almost the same, ‘vamos’ and ‘vámonos’ are not synonyms. In fact, each one of these verbs has its own meaning and, therefore, you need to apply them in different contexts. For starters, these words come from different verbs:

Vamos = Ir – Present tense conjugation for ‘nosotros’. 

Vámonos = Irse – Reflexive and imperative form for ‘nosotros’. 

As one of the conjugations of ‘ir’, in Spanish, vamos means ‘to go’. We use ‘vamos’ to express that we are leading ourselves or going somewhere. Depending on the context, ‘vamos’ could also be used as an expression to ‘cheer on’ someone. As a result, it could also be translated as ‘go, go’, ‘let’s go’  or ‘come on’. Finally, ‘vamos’ could also be used to build sentences in the future tense. 

Karina y yo vamos al cine 
Karina and I are going to the movies

¡Vamos, vamos! Dos minutos más
Let’s go, let’s go! Two more minutes 

As an imperative form of ‘irse’, we use vámonos to let our companions know that it’s time for all of us to leave a place. Depending on the speaker’s tone of voice, ‘vámonos’ could be perceived as a demand, suggestion, or request. It could be translated as ‘let’s go’ or ‘let’s leave’. 

¡Ya vámonos, David! Es tarde y tengo que trabajar mañana
Let’s go now, David! It’s late and I have to work tomorrow

In the following sections, we’ll talk more in-depth about how to use these words as well as the phrase structures that you may need. 

Related Resource: How to Use Ya in Spanish

When & How to Use ‘Vamos’ in Spanish

In Spanish, ‘vamos’ is the present tense conjugation for ‘nosotros’. ‘Vamos’ comes from ‘ir’, as a result, this verb is expressing that you and someone else are leading or going somewhere. ‘Ir’ is the direct translation of ‘to go’, therefore, ‘vamos’ would be ‘we go’. 

Vamos a + [la / el] +  [place]

Mis primas y yo vamos a la playa todos los fines de semana
My cousins and I go to the beach every weekend 

Sebastián, Mateo y yo vamos a la casa de Ángel a estudiar
Sebastian, Mateo and I go to Angel’s house to study 

Oye, ¿vamos al cumpleaños de Patrick o tienes algo que hacer?
Hey, should we go to Patrick’s birthday party or do you have something to do?

Take Note: When used to pose a question, ‘vamos’ is not describing activities or routines. Instead, it’s proposing someone else to do an activity. 

Although this is a common way to use ‘vamos’, there are also other contexts that you should be familiar with since they’re quite popular in Spanish. 

Talking about the Future 

One common way to use ‘vamos’ in Spanish is to talk about future events. In this context, ‘vamos a’ means ‘to go to’. Here is the phrase structure that you need to use for this situation:

Vamos a + [verb infinitive verb]

El mes que viene Charlie y yo vamos a ir a México
Next month Charlie and I are going to Mexico 

Laura y yo vamos a visitar a Mara el mes que viene
Laura and I are going to visit Mara next month

¿Mañana vamos a ir al cine o lo vamos a dejar para otro día?
Are we going to the movies tomorrow or are we going to leave for another day?

Take Note: You can also use the phrase structures above to talk about future places you’re going to go to. In this case, you will need to use time expressions related to the future such as ‘mañana’, ‘la semana que viene’, etc. 

Cheering Someone on

In some contexts, ‘vamos’ is also used as an expression to encourage or cheer on someone. As a result, in this case’, ‘vamos’ could either mean ‘come on’, ‘let’s go’ or ‘go! go!’. Here are some examples:

¡Vamos, Miriam! Dos vueltas más
Come on, Miriam! Two more laps 

¡Vamos, vamos, chicos! Ya casi tenemos el proyecto listo
Let’s go, let’s go, guys! We almost have the project ready

When & How to Use ‘Vámonos’ in Spanish

‘Vámonos’ is an imperative form of the verb ‘irse’ (to leave) and it’s conjugated for the first plural person (nosotros – we). In Spanish, you use ‘vámonos’ to tell your friends or companions that it is time for you all to leave the place where you are right now. Therefore, ‘vámonos’ could be either translated as ‘let’s leave’ or ‘let’s go’. 

When using ‘vámonos’ in Spanish, keep in mind that:

  • ‘Vámonos’ can be used to request, suggest, or demand to leave a place
  • This word is referring to a plural person. Use it when you come or you’re leaving with someone (or a group of friends). 
  • It implies that the action (to leave) needs to happen right now.  
  • You don’t need to add the pronoun ‘nosotros’ since it’s already part of ‘vámonos’. 

Related Resource: How to Use Reflexive Verbs in Spanish

Examples of How to Use Vámonos in Spanish

SpanishEnglish
Tú: Oigan, ya vámonos, mañana nos tenemos que despertar temprano. You: Hey you guys, let’s leave, we have to wake up early tomorrow. 
Tus amigos: Si quieres vete tú, nosotros estamos a gusto. Your friends: If you want, you can leave. We’re okay. 

Oye, linda, si quieres ya vámonos
Hey, sweetie, let’s leave if you want 

Vámonos, por favor, no me siento bien
Please, let’s leave, I don’t feel very well 

¡Derek! ¡Vámonos! La película empieza en cinco minutos
¡Derek! Let’s go! The movie starts in five minutes

Take Note: As an imperative form, sometimes ‘vámonos’ can be perceived as too aggressive or too demanding. In order to soften your sentences and make them sound like a suggestion, you need to add ‘si quieres’ or ‘si quieren’  to your statement. This is especially useful when you notice that your companion is not comfortable in that place anymore. 

Kate, si quieres ya vámonos, los niños se ven muy cansados
Kate, let’s leave if you want, the children look to tired

Wrapping Up

‘Vamos’ and ‘vámonos’ can be confusing for new and experienced Spanish learners since both verbs look like different forms of the verb ‘ir’. That’s why in this article, we discussed the differences between these words as well as the most common contexts where you can apply them. Here are some key points that should always keep in mind:

Vamos

  • It refers to ‘nosotros’ (we) and it’s the present tense of the verb ir. 
  • Expresses that you and other people are going or leading somewhere. It means ‘to go’. 
  • As a form of ‘ir’, ‘vamos’ can be used to talk about future events. It means ‘to go to’. 
  • It can also be used as an expression to cheer on someone. It means ‘go, go’, ‘come on’, ‘let’s go’. 

Vámonos

  • It refers to ‘nosotros’ (we), but it’s the reflexive and imperative form of the verb ‘irse’ (to leave)
  • Expresses a demand, request or suggestion to leave the place where you and your companions are. 
  • It has a sense of urgency and implies that the action needs to happen immediately. 
  • It doesn’t need to be preceded by the pronoun ‘nosotros’. 

Related Resources

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I’ve taught Spanish in Mexico to a wide array of foreigners. From students and tourists to doctors and soldiers who’ve moved and visited here over the years. During the day I’m a freelancer and marketer, while at night I’m here writing for students of the world wide web looking to learn Spanish. I hope you find what you’re looking here during your journey into Español 🙂 Read More About Me

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