Still and Yet in Spanish – Ya vs. Todavía


For many new Spanish speakers, ya and todavía, as well as ‘ya no’ and ‘todavía no’, can be very confusing since they not only work together but also follow similar grammar structures. However, using one or the other will completely change the meaning of your conversation, and therefore, they cannot be used interchangeably. 

So what’s the difference between ya and todavía? When used in affirmative sentences, ‘ya’ could mean ‘already’ or ‘now’, and it becomes ‘not anymore’ when used in negative phrases. In affirmative phrases, ‘todavía’ means ‘still’ and it’s translated as ‘yet’ in negative sentences.  

As you may notice from the translation, ‘ya’ and ‘todavía’ are very different. Since ‘ya’, ‘ya no’, ‘todavía’ and ‘todavía no’ work together in some Spanish, it’s important that you understand when and how to use each one of these grammar structures. 

In this article, we’ll discuss when to use these words correctly. In order to help you understand these words better, we’ll show you how to use them to ask and answer questions since this is very common in Spanish. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll be able to identify and apply ‘ya’, ‘ya no’, ‘todavía’ and ‘todavía no’ in the right situation.  

‘Ya’, ‘ya no’, ‘todavía’ and ‘todavía no’ in Spanish  

In Spanish, ‘ya’ and ‘todavía’, as well as their negative forms, have different meanings depending on both the context and the grammar structures they work with. On top of their individual meanings and uses, ya, ya no, todavía no and todavía work together when asking and answering questions, which can be very confusing for new Spanish speakers. 

Before discussing how and when to use these adverbs together, let’s keep in mind some of their most common uses:

  • Ya means already and is used to express that an action or event has been completed. It also expresses that a past action or state has changed or improved in the present.
  • Ya no means no more or not anymore. It describes that we don’t do an activity or we don’t like something anymore. 
  • Todavía means still. We use it to express that an action, state, or event is the same as it was in the past. 
  • Todavía no is not yet or still not. It expresses that an action hasn’t been completed. This structure is used to talk about actions or task that we haven’t finished, habits we haven’t quit and goals we haven’t completed. 

Ya vs Todavía

YaTodavía
1. Indicates change from past to present.
2. Expresses that you don’t do or like something anymore.
1. Indicates that an action remains the same as it was in the past.
2. Todavía no expresses that an action hasn’t been completed.
Carolina ya no vive con sus papás

Carolina doesn’t live with their parents anymore

Ya terminé de estudiar español

I already finished studying Spanish
Todavía me gustan los gatos

I still like cats

Todavía no termino de estudiar español 

I haven’t finished study Spanish yet

As mentioned before, todavía, todavía no, ya no and ya have different purposes and meanings in Spanish. This means that depending on the context, you will need to use one or the other. For many new Spanish speakers, using these grammar structures alone is not a big deal. However, people may get confused when they need to combine them. In the following sections, we’ll show you how to do this correctly. 

Ya vs Todavía in Affirmative Answers

An easy way to decide if you need to use ‘ya’, ‘todavía’, ‘ya no’ or ‘todavía no’ is determining if the answer to the question you were asked is positive or negative. When our answer is positive or affirmative we tend to use:

  • Ya 
  • Todavía

Be aware that the questions you may be asked will also contain ‘ya’, ‘ya no’, ‘todavía’ or ‘todavía no’. Here are some examples to help you understand this better:

Answering with ‘todavía’: expressing than an action remains the same

1. When we ask questions with todavía and our answer is positive or affirmative we answer using todavía as well. 

Example 1:

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Todavía te gustan los perros?Person 1: Do you still like dogs?
Persona 2: Sí, todavía me gustan. Person 2: Yes, I still like them. 

Example 2:

SpanishEnglish
Person 1: ¿Todavía estudias español?Person 1: Are you still studying Spanish?
Person 2: Sí, todavía me quedan dos años.Person 2: Yes, I still have two years left. 

These types of conversations express that something (the thing we were asked) is still the same as it was in the past (the subject is unchanged). In other words, person 1 knows that I used to like dogs and she or he wants to know if that feeling is still the same in the present. 

2. As you may have noticed, the previous examples contained ‘todavía’ in both the answers and questions. On top of this, those questions were affirmative and the answer was just a confirmation. However, it’s also possible to ask a negative question and yet respond with a positive/affirmative answer. 

In order to do this, we’ll use ya no to ask a question and to give a positive answer we’ll use todavía. 

SpanishEnglish
Person 1: ¿Ya no estudias español?Person 1: Do you not study Spanish anymore?
Person 2: Sí, todavía voy a clases.Person 2: Yes, I still take classes. 

In this type of question, the purpose is to ask if you don’t do an activity anymore. We use todavía to expresses that we still do that activity. It’s very common in conversational Spanish. 

Answering with ‘ya’: expressing that an action is completed or has changed

Just like in the previous section, when we ask a question using ya and our answer is positive we’ll use ya as well. In this case, depending on the context, answering with ‘ya’ will express that either an action was completed or that a past event/action has changed or improved in the present.

Question: ¿Ya + verb (in the past tense)?

Answer: Ya + verb in past tense

Example 1:

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Ya terminaste de comer?Person 1: Did you already finish eating?
Persona 2: Sí, ya terminé. Person 2: Yes, I already finished. 

Example 2:

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Ya tienes internet?Person 1: Do you already have internet?
Persona 2: Sí, ya tengo internet.Person 2: Yes, I already have internet. 

In conversational Spanish, it’s very common to ask these questions in negative form. To do this instead of ‘ya’ we will use todavía no in the questions and we’ll answer using ‘ya’. Here are some examples: 

Example 1:

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Todavía no has terminado de comer?Person 1: Haven’t you finished eating yet?
Persona 2: Sí, ya terminé. Person 2: Yes, I already finished. 

Example 2:

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Todavía no tienes internet?Person 1: You don’t have internet yet?
Persona 2: Sí, ya tengo internet.Person 2: Yes, I already have internet. 

Take Note: Since ya has different meanings and uses in Spanish, I wrote this article where I only focus on explaining to you how to use ya in Spanish. In here, you’ll find examples and different uses that will help you use this word correctly.  

Ya, Ya no, Todavía and Todavía no in Negative Answers

In the previous sections, we learned how to use ‘ya’ and ‘todavía’ when your answer to a question is affirmative. Now we’ll discuss the combinations you need to do when your answer to these questions is negative.  

Ya and Todavía no: expressing that an action hasn’t been completed 

In order to know if a person has completed or finished certain actions, in Spanish, we use ask a question with ya. If she or he hasn’t completed this action, then they will need to respond with todavía no. 

Here is how to do it.  

Example 1:

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Ya terminaste de comer?Person 1: Did you already finish eating?
Persona 2: Todavía no.Person 2: Not yet

Example 2:

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Ya le hablaste a tu hermano?Person 1: Did you already call your brother?
Persona 2: Todavía no.Person 2: Not yet

Although the previous answer is correct, you can also use the following option. Notice that in the next case, ‘no’ is placed before ‘todavía’, as a result, ‘todavía’ will be translated as ‘still’.

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Ya terminaste de comer?Person 1: Did you already finish eating?
Persona 2: No, todavía estoy comiendo. Person 2: No, I’m still eating. 

Even though the elements of the previous examples follow a different order, the purpose is the same: expressing that the action isn’t finished (you haven’t finished eating yet). You can reply with either, but you have to change the sentences around to do so. 

Todavía and ya no: expressing that you don’t do an activity anymore

In the previous examples, we saw that using ya in the questions and answering with todavía no helps us to express that an action or event hasn’t been completed yet. But if we wanted to respond that we don’t do a certain activity or that an event hasn’t taken place anymore, we need to change our question and answer. Notice that in this case, the question will be made with todavía and, if we don’t do that activity anymore, we’ll answer with ya no. 

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Todavía sigues estudiando español?Person 1: Are you still studying Spanish?
Persona 2: Ya no, terminé mi curso el año pasado. Person 2: Not anymore, I finished my course last year. 

You can also use any of the ‘ya’ and ‘todavía’ structures to talk about your likes. In this case, we’ll express that we don’t like something anymore. 

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Todavía te gustan los perros?Person 1: Do you still like dogs?
Persona 2: , Ya no, ahora me gustan los gatos.Person 2: Not anymore, now I like cats. 

As you may have noticed, in the previous examples we use both present and past tense in the answers. Using present or past in your answer will depend on the information you want to emphasize: in the first example, we want to highlight the date when we finished our curse and in the second example, we emphasize the thing that we like now. 

Wrapping Up

Ya, ya no, todavía and todavía no are very important terms in Spanish since they allow us to express the state of an activity, event or likes in relation to time. 

In this article, we learned that these words aren’t interchangeable and they work together by asking and answering questions. We also discussed how and when to use each one of these grammar structures in our questions or answers. Here are some key points that you need to keep in mind. 

Ya and Todavía Takeaways

Ya (+)Todavía no (-)Todavía (+)Ya no (-)
– The action has been completed– A past action still hasn’t been completed – A past action still remains the same – A past action has changed: it’s not the same anymore
¿Ya terminaste de estudiar?

Did you already finish studying?
No, todavía no he terminado de estudiar

No, I haven’t finished studying yet
¿Todavía trabajas en la misma oficina?

Do you still work in the same office?
No, ya no trabajo en esa oficina

No, I don’t work in that office anymore.

Asking If an Action Remains the Same

  • To ask if an action, tastes, preferences or event is still the same as it used to be in the past, we use todavía. If the answer is affirmative, meaning that the action/event is still the same, we answer using todavía. However, if that action, interest or event has changed, we use ya no. In this case, we’re expressing that either we don’t do an action, or we don’t like something anymore.

Affirmative answer: Todavía

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Todavía trabajas en donde mismo?Person 1: Are you still working in the same place?
Persona 2: Sí, todavía sigo ahí.Person 2: Yes, I’m still there.

Negative answer: Ya no

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Todavía trabajas en donde mismo?Person 1: Are you still working in the same place?
Persona 2: Ya no. Renuncié hace dos años.Person 2: Not anymore. I quit two years ago.

Asking if an action has been completed

  • To ask if you or someone else has completed an action, we use ya. If this action has been completed, we’ll answer using ya as well; but if the action hasn’t been finished, we’ll use todavía no.

Affirmative answer: Ya

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Ya compraste tu boleto a España?Person 1: Did you already buy your ticket to Spain?
Persona 2: Sí, ya lo compré ayer.  Person 2: Yes, I already bought yesterday.

Negative Answer: Todavía no

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Ya compraste tu boleto a España?Person 1: Did you already buy your ticket to Spain?
Persona 2: Todavía no. Mañana lo compro.  Person 2: Not yet. I’ll buy it tomorrow.

Asking Questions with Ya and Todavía

  •  When used in a question, ya no has the purpose to ask if you don’t do an action or you don’t like something anymore. If you still do that action or you still like that thing, you’ll answer with todavía. However, if you confirm the question, meaning that you don’t do or like something anymore, you’ll need to use ya no as well.

Negative question and affirmative answer:

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Ya no practicas español?Person 1: You don’t practice Spanish anymore?
Persona 2: Sí, todavía practico todos los días.Person 2: Yes, I still practice every day.

Negative question and negative answer:

SpanishEnglish
Persona 1: ¿Ya no practicas español?Person 1: You don’t practice Spanish anymore?
Persona 2: Ya no. Es que he tenido mucho trabajo.Person 2: Not anymore. It’s because I have had a lot of work.

Related Questions

What’s the difference between aún and todavía? Aún and todavía are Spanish synonyms and, therefore, they can be used interchangeably. The only difference between these words is that ‘aún’ is used in more formal context. However, it has the same meanings and uses that ‘todavía’

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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