Due to its multiple meanings, learning how to correctly use the verb andar in Spanish may be really challenging for new learners. Even though andar is the direct translation of ‘to walk’, in Spanish, we use this verb in many different contexts that you may not be familiar with.
So what does andar mean in Spanish? Even though andar is translated as ‘to walk’, depending on the context, it could also be a synonym of the English verbs ‘to work’, ‘to be’, ‘to use’ and ‘to take’. It’s also used to estimate someone’s age or an object’s price and to say that you’re dating someone.
Since andar is often used in casual and informal conversations, it’s important to start incorporating it into your vocabulary.
In this article, we’re going to discuss in-depth about how and when to use the verb andar in Spanish as well as some useful examples on how to apply this verb in real conversations. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll have a better understanding of the meaning and the uses of the verb andar in Spanish.
What does Andar in Spanish Mean?
Just as many other Spanish verbs, ‘andar’ can be used in different contexts and, therefore, its meaning and translation will vary. As you may know, the direct translation of ‘andar’ is ‘to walk’.
Andar al trabajo es bueno para relajar la mente Walking to work is good for the mind
However, in informal situations, it’s very common to use it in the following situations:
- A synonym of ‘estar’
- To estimate someone’s age or an object’s price
- To talk about means of transportation
- To express that someone has a relationship
- As a synonym of ‘working’
- To express that someone is going through your stuff
In the following sections, we’re going to discuss in-depth the different ways you can use ‘andar’, tips and things you should keep in mind when doing so.
Andar as a synonym of ‘caminar’ – To walk
As mentioned earlier, andar is one of the direct translations of ‘to walk’. Unlike Spain, in this context, most Latin American countries tend to use andar in very formal situations. Therefore, it’s common to see this verb in books, news, tv shows, etc.
Laura y Nancy van andando a la escuela Laura and Nancy walk to school
El museo está a diez minutos andando The museum is a ten-minute walk
¿Podemos tomar un taxi? Está muy lejos para ir andando Can we take a taxi? It’s too far to walk
Andar as a synonym of ‘estar’ – To be
One of the most important uses of the verb ‘andar’ is as a synonym for the verb ‘estar’. In this situation, andar would be translated as ‘to be’. As mentioned earlier, ‘andar’ is meant for more casual or conversational contexts, so you should try to avoid it in formal situations. As you may know in Spanish the verb ‘estar’ has many uses; however, ‘andar’ can’t be used in all of them. Here are the situations where you can use ‘andar’ instead of ‘estar’.
To ask someone how they are doing
Just as in Spanish we use ‘estar’ to ask people how they are, we can also use ‘andar’ to do so.
Hola, ¿cómo andas? Hi, how are you?
¡Qué onda! ¿Cómo andan tus hermanos y tus papás? What’s up! How are your brothers and parents?
Although the translation remains the same, you must be aware that in this context andar sounds pretty casual. As a result, it’s widely used among friends and family. Of course, you can also use ‘andar’ to express that you’re fine.
|Ando bien, ¿y tú?||I’m fine and you?|
To express where somebody is
As you may know, in Spanish, we use the verb estar to express both people and object’s location. ‘Andar’ can be used with the same purpose but only when talking about people. As a result, ‘andar’ implies that this location is temporary.
¿Dónde anda tu hermano? Where is your brother?
Adriana anda en la oficina y llega más tarde Adriana is at the office and will arrive later
Mis vecinos andan en México y después irán a Colombia My neighbors are in Mexico and then they’ll go to Colombia
Even though ‘andar’ is common and well-accepted when talking about a person’s location, you shouldn’t use it to talk about buildings or objects because it wouldn’t be correct and your Spanish will sound broken.
To express mental and emotional states
Spanish speakers also replace ‘estar’ for ‘andar’ when talking about mental and emotional states. As a result, you can say something like:
Ayer caminamos todo el día y hoy andamos cansados Yesterday we walked the whole day and we’re tired
Este fin de semana no puedo ir, ando ocupado I can’t go this weekend, I’m busy
Mis amigas andan felices porque van a irse de vacaciones a España My friends are happy because they’re going to Spain for vacation
To talk about your activities
One of the most important uses of ‘estar’ is building the present progressive tense. ‘Andar’ can also be used for the same purpose.
Andar (conjugated) + gerund
Carlos y Mariana andan preparando sus maletas Carlos and Mariana are preparing their luggage
Ando viendo una película con mis amigos I’m watching a movie with my friends
Just as you’d do with estar, notice how the sentence structure requires you to use two verbs in different tenses:
- Andar in the present tense
- The second verb in the gerund form (this should be the verb of the activity you’re trying to express)
On top of being very casual, using this sentence structure emphasizes the fact that the action is happening at that precise moment. So if you’re in a more formal situation, it’s better that you use the verb ‘estar’. Since ‘estar’ is one of the most important and yet confusing Spanish verbs, I wrote this article on how to use the verb estar in Spanish where you’ll find real and common situations where you need to use it.
To estimate someone’s age or an object’s price – To be around
In conversational Spanish, one of the many uses of the verb andar is to express an estimation about either a person’s age or an object’s price. As a result, in this context, andar would be translated as ‘to be around’. For this situation, you’ll need to use the following structure.
Andar (conjugated) + age / price
Los boletos de avión a España andan por los 1500 dólares Plane tickets to Spain are about $1500 USD
Cecilia anda por los 40 años Cecilia is about 40 years old
Be aware that if the context is clear, Spanish speakers may just say the number they’re talking about without specifying if they’re referring to years or money.
|Tú: ¿Cuánto crees que cuesten los boletos de avión para España?||You: How much do you think are plane tickets to Spain?|
|Tu amigo: No estoy seguro, pero creo que andan por los 1500.||Your friend: I’m not sure, but I think they’re about 1500.|
To talk about means of transportation – To use/To take
Another way that you can practice and incorporate andar in your Spanish daily vocabulary is to talk about the type of transportation you use. Although this definition of ‘andar’ may seem weird to you, in Spanish it’s very common. And as long as you’re talking about means of transportation andar will be translated as ‘to use’ or ‘to take’. Here is the sentence structure that we use in this type of cases:
Andar (conjugated) + en + type of transportation
En las mañanas no me gusta andar en carro porque hay mucho tráfico I don’t like to use the car in the mornings because there’s so much traffic
Mis amigos españoles andan en camión porque no les gusta manejar My Spanish friends take the bus because they don’t like to drive
Although these previous examples are used in conversational and informal Spanish, you should know that there are some words related to transportation that always work with andar and, as a result, they’re not considered informal but rather standard Spanish. Here are some vocabulary means of transportation that we always use with andar:
Be aware that even though in Spanish we use the same verb for all these words, the translation of ‘andar’ may vary.
Me gusta más andar en bicicleta que manejar I like riding a bike more than driving
¿Sabes andar en patineta? Do you know how to use a skateboard?
To express that someone has a relationship
Another situation where we use ‘andar’ is to express that a person has a relationship with someone else. This use of ‘andar’ is very informal and tends to be more popular in Latinamerican countries than in Spain. Here is how we use it:
Andar (conjugated) + con
Mi vecina anda con un francés My neighbor is in a relationship with a french guy
¿Sabías que Ana Paula y Luis andan? Did you know that Ana Paula and Luis are in a relationship?
This use of the verb andar is close in meaning to the expression ‘to be in a relationship’ or ‘to date’. As mentioned earlier, this use of andar is very informal, so if you find yourself in a formal situation where you need to express that someone is in a relationship, you should either use:
- Ser novio/novia de
Mi vecina es novia de un francés My neighbor is in a relationship with a french guy
- Tener una relación con
Mi vecina tiene una relación con un francés My neighbor is in a relationship with a french guy
Andar as a synonym of working
In Spanish, the verb to work has different meanings depending on the context. Andar is used by Spanish speakers as a synonym of ‘to work’ or ‘to function’.
Los frenos de mi coche ya no andan bien My car’s brakes don’t work well anymore
Después de arreglarlo, el reloj de mi papá anda perfectamente After fixing it, my dad’s watch’s works perfectly
If you wanted to use andar with this meaning, be aware that it is only appropriate in casual conversations.
Andar as a synonym of ‘registrar’ – Going through your stuff
Spanish speakers also use the verb ‘andar’ to express that someone else was going through their stuff. Here are some examples of how we use ‘andar’ in this context.
Mi amigo siempre anda revisando mis cosas My friend is always going through my stuff
A mi hermano le molesta que mi mama ande entre sus cosas My brother doesn’t like that my mom goes through his stuff
Although this is a very common expression, you may also hear the following variation:
Mi amigo siempre anda revisando mis cosas My friend is always going through my stuff
Grammatically speaking, this previous example is slightly more complete. However, it doesn’t affect the meaning of the sentence.
In this article, we discussed what the verb andar means in Spanish and how to use it. Even though ‘andar’ is the direct translation of ‘to talk’, we learned that this verb has many common uses in conversational Spanish. Hopefully you feel a little more confident about the verb andar and you’ll start using it in your conversations with family and friends.
What does andar en patineta mean in Spanish? Andar en patineta means to ‘ride a skateboard’. In Spanish, we also have the verb ‘patinar’ which is the equivalent of the verb ‘to skate’.
Siempre que puedo, ando en patineta Everytime I can, I ride a skateboard
Patinar en la ciudad es muy peligroso Skating in the city is too dangerous
What does andar de volada mean in Spanish? Andar de volada is an idiom that expresses that a person is flirting.
Mayra anda de volada con todos los chavos de la fiesta Mayra is flirting with all the guys at the party
This expression is often used by young Mexicans. That’s why I wrote this short article where you can learn how to use andar de volada correctly.