Improve your Vocabulary – 12 Spanish Expressions with Vez

On top of expressing the number of times that an action has been performed, ‘vez’ is also used to build many different Spanish expressions. Since they’re idiomatic expressions, these phrases will have their own meaning and they will be applied in different situations. 

In this article, we gathered some of the most common Spanish expressions with ‘vez’. We also included some examples and phrase structures that can help you understand when and how to apply these expressions.

Tal Vez – ‘Maybe’

What does ‘tal vez’ mean in Spanish? ‘Tal vez’ is a Spanish phrase that expresses the possibility of an action taking place. Therefore, it can be translated as ‘maybe’, ‘perhaps’ or ‘possibly’. 

Examples of Using ‘Tal vez’ in Spanish

Depending on the context where it is being applied, ‘tal vez’ can form part of a bigger sentence. Here are some examples of how to use ‘tal vez’ in Spanish. 

Tal vez llueva mañana
Maybe it will rain tomorrow

Dile a Marc que tal vez este libro le sirva
Tell Marc that perhaps this book will help him

Tal vez Chris y yo vayamos al centro hoy, ¿necesitan algo?
Maybe Chris and I will go downtown today, do you guys need something? 

Take Note: Since ‘tal vez’ is used to talk about possibilities in the future, most of the time it works with verbs in the subjunctive form. Notice that you can place this expression in the middle or at the beginning of the sentence. 

Even though ‘tal vez’ works well with the subjunctive form, you can also use this Spanish expression with other tenses. Here are some examples:

Bianca no va a venir hoy, tal vez está enferma
Bianca won’t come today, maybe she’s sick

Esta no es el museo de arte, tal vez estamos en la calle incorrecta
This is not the art museum, maybe we’re on the wrong street

Tal vez Mary se equivocó y nos dio bien la información
Perhaps, Mary made a mistake and didn’t give us the correct information

Finally, you can use ‘tal vez’ as a single response to answer a previous question or statement. 

Tú: Mañana es el partido del Barcelona, ¿lo vas a ver?You: Tomorrow is Barcelona’s next match, are you going to see it?
Tu amigo: Tal vez. Tengo mucho trabajo. Your friend: Maybe. I have a lot of work. 

En vez – Instead of 

What does ‘en vez de’ mean in Spanish? ‘En vez de’ is one of the Spanish translations for ‘instead of’. This expression is used to show a preference when talking about objects, people or activities. It can also be used to express that someone or something was or will be replaced. 

As you may imagine, ‘en vez de’ is a synonym of the Spanish expression ‘en lugar de’ and the only difference between these phrases is that ‘en vez de’ is more commonly used in casual conversations. We established earlier that this expression can be used to show a person’s preferences. However, in order to do it, you’ll need to follow some sentence structures. 

Examples of how to use ‘en vez de’ in Spanish

Here are some phrase structures as well as some examples of how to use this Spanish expression with vez. 

[Conjugated verb] + [noun] + en vez de + [noun] 

Yo quiero café en vez de té
I want coffee instead of tea

Le puedes regalar un libro en vez de una playera
You can give him a book instead of a t-shirt 

As mentioned before, you can also use ‘en vez de’ to talk about activities. Keep in mind that you can conjugate the second verb to match any tense you want. 

En vez de + [verb infinitive form] + [verb conjugated]

En vez de estar aquí vamos a ver una película
Instead of being here, let’s go see a movie

¡Me quedé dormida! En vez de dormirme temprano, me puse a ver una película
I fell asleep! Instead of going to bed early, I watched a movie

‘En vez de que’ is a variation of ‘en vez de’. It also means ‘instead of’. However, Spanish speakers use ‘en vez de que’ to intensify their sentences. Also, notice that ‘en vez de que’ needs to work with a verb conjugated in the subjunctive form. 

En vez de que + [verb in present subjunctive] + [complement] 

¡Juan! ¡En vez de que estés de flojo, ven a ayudarme
Juan! Instead of being lazy, come and help me!

En vez de que gastes tanto en una fiesta, usa tu dinero para viajar
Instead of spending so much on a party, use your money to travel

A su vez

What is ‘a su vez’ in Spanish? ‘A su vez’ is a Spanish phrase that expresses a successive order or consequences. Depending on the context and grammar element, it could be translated as ‘in turn’ or ‘which in turn’. 

Examples of how to use ‘a su vez’ in Spanish

In Spanish, ‘a su vez’ is quite common in writing and formal situations such as books, political speeches, papers and news. Therefore, it’s not very common to find it in regular and casual conversations. This phrase is used to connect two sentences as long as their actions have a successive order. 

Mi padre me dió este reloj, a su vez, él lo recibió de su padre
My father gave me this watch, which in turn, he received from his father

Un año se divide en meses, a su vez, estos se dividen en semanas 
A year is divided into months, in turn, these are divided into weeks

‘A su vez’ is also used to express some relation or consequence between two actions. In this case ‘a su vez’ will become ‘lo que a su vez’. This expression can also be translated as ‘which in turn’. 

El avión me salió muy barato, lo que a su vez me permitió rentar un coche
My plane ticket was very cheap, which in turn allowed me to rent a car 

El número de empleos ha aumentado, lo que a su vez mejoró la economía
The number of employments has increased, which in turn improved the economy 

De una vez

What does de una vez mean in Spanish? ‘De una vez’ can be translated as ‘once and for all’. Depending on the context, it could also be used to express that an action has to take place ‘right away’. This phrase may have different variants that express a different degree of urgency.

One of these expressions is de una buena vez which on top of meaning ‘once and for all’, it also means ‘right away’ or ‘right now’. In some contexts, Spanish speakers use this expression to show their frustration for a certain action, event or behaviour. 

Another option is de una vez por todas which is a direct translation of ‘once and for all’. This expression implies that an action or event will take place for good. As a result, it could be considered as a synonym of ‘definitely’. ‘De una vez’ and ‘de una vez por todas’ may look like synonyms. However, we use the last one when we want to emphasize and stress our sentence. 

Examples of how to use ‘de una vez’ in Spanish

¡Ya déjame en paz de una buena vez!
Just leave me alone once and for all!

Hay que hacerlo de una vez porque mañana no voy a venir
Let’s do it once and for all because I’m not coming tomorrow

Habla con ella y así te quitas de problemas de una vez por todas
Talk to her and that way you get rid of these troubles once and for all

Si vamos al super de una vez, tendremos la tarde libre
If we go to the supermarket right now, we’ll have the afternoon free

Since you can use ‘de una vez’ in any type of sentences, it’s quite difficult to have a phrase structure. However, the only rule that you need to keep in mind when using these expressions, is to put them after the verb. 

Rara vez

What is ‘rara vez’ in Spanish? ‘Rara vez’ is used to express that an action is not performed very frequently. Therefore, ‘rara vez’ can be translated as ‘rarely’, ‘hardly ever’ and ‘seldom’. This phrase can go at the beginning or at the end of a sentence. 

Examples of How to Use ‘Rara vez’ in Spanish

‘Rara vez’ is a common expression both in formal and informal conversations. In general, this phrase works with verbs in present tense because it’s referring to habits and routines. Here are some examples as well as some phrase structures that you can use: 

[Subject] + rara vez + [verb in present tense]

(Yo) Rara vez hago ejercicio los fines de semana
I hardly ever exercise on the weekends

James y Michael rara vez practican su español
James and Michael rarely practice their Spanish 

Take Note: Unlike English, in Spanish, sometimes the context and the conjugation of the verb allow you to omit subject pronouns. In addition to making your sentences shorter, this will allow you to sound more fluent and natural. 

In conversational contexts, you can intensify ‘rara vez’. In this situation, this Spanish expression is close in meaning to ‘once in a blue moon’ and ‘hardly ever’. 

[Subject] + [verb in present tense] +  muy rara vez

Paul come carne muy rara vez 
Paul eats meat once in a blue moon

Ustedes cumplen su palabra muy rara vez
You guys hardly ever keep your word

You can place ‘rara vez’ and ‘muy rara’ vez either at the beginning or at the end of the sentence. 

James y Michael practican su español rara vez
James and Michael rarely practice their Spanish 

Muy rara vez me gusta ver películas de terror
I hardly ever like to watch horror movies

A la vez

What does a la vez mean in Spanish? ‘A la vez’ expresses that two actions are taking place at the same time. As a result, it could be translated as ‘at the same time’ or ‘while’. This phrase is also used to add more information to a previous statement. In this context, it means ‘as well as’. 

Examples of How to Use ‘A la vez’ in a Sentence

As a synonym of ‘while’ or ‘at the same time’

When using ‘a la vez’ to describe that two or more actions are taking place at the same time, you need to use one of the following phrase structures:

[Subject] + [Verb #1 conjugated] + a la vez que + [Verb #2 conjugated]

Tiffany ve televisión a la vez que habla con su novio
Tiffany watches tv at the same time as she talks to her boyfriend

Matthew y Mary hicieron un pastel a la vez que escuchaban el radio
Matthew and Mary baked a cake while listening to the radio

Take Note: In front of conjugated verbs, ‘a la vez’ becomes ‘a la vez que’. This doesn’t happen when working with verbs in infinitive form. Notice that in this case, ‘a la vez’ is placed at the end of the sentence. 

¿Cómo pueden caminar y mandar mensajes a la vez?
How can you walk and text at the same time?

You could also hear another variation where ‘a la vez’ goes at the beginning of the sentence. Here is how you do it:

A la vez que + [Action #1] + [subject] + [Action #2]

A la vez que explica, la maestra escribe algunos ejemplos en el pizarrón
While she explains, the teacher writes some examples on the board

‘A la vez’ also expresses that two people are performing the same action (or actions) at the same time. In this situation, you need to follow this phrase structure.

[Verb conjugated] + a la vez

¡No hablen a la vez porque no les entiendo!
Don’t talk at the same time because I can’t understand you!

Mis amigos siempre escriben y hablan a la vez
My friends always talk and speak at the same time

Adding more information to a previous statement 

Another way to use ‘a la vez’ in Spanish is by adding more information to a previous sentence. Generally speaking, speakers use this expression to add more characteristics or qualities when talking about an object or a person. In this situation, ‘a la vez’ is translated as ‘as well as’. 

[Subject] + [verb conjugated] +  [adjective/adverb] + a la vez que + [adjective/adverb]

Tu hermano es genial: es divertido a la vez que amable
Your brother is very cool: he’s fun as well as nice

México es un buen lugar para ir de vacaciones, es bonito a la vez que barato
Mexico is a nice place to go on vacation, it’s beautiful as well as cheap

De vez en cuando 

What does ‘de vez en cuando’ mean in Spanish? ‘De vez en cuando’ is used to express that an action or behaviour takes place occasionally. As a result, ‘de vez en cuando’ means ‘once in a while’, ‘from time to time’ and ‘every now and then’. 

Examples of How to Use ‘De vez en cuando’

‘De vez en cuando’ can be used either at the beginning, the middle or at the end of a sentence. Here are the phrase structures that you need for each case. 

[Subject] + [verb conjugated] + de vez en cuando + [information]

Aaron visita de vez en cuando a su hermano
Aaron visits his brother once in a while

Allison y yo nos reunimos de vez en cuando para practicar español
Allison and I get together every now and then to practice Spanish

De vez en cuando + [subject] + [verb conjugated] 

De vez en cuando, Jamie prueba nuevos platillos
Once in a while, Jamie tries some new dishes

Even though they look similar, ‘muy de vez en cuando’ expresses that an action takes place with less frequency than ‘de vez en cuando’. Therefore, this Spanish expression is translated as ‘rarely’, ‘not very often’ or ‘very occasionally’. 

[Subject] + [verb conjugated] + muy  de vez en cuando

Usted viaja en coche muy de vez en cuando
You rarely travel by car

Diana y Rosie faltan al trabajo muy de vez en cuando
Diana and Rosie don’t come to work very often 

Aquella vez

What does ‘aquella vez’ mean in Spanish? In Spanish, ‘aquella vez’ is a time expression and it’s only used to talk about events or actions that took place in the past. As a result, it’s translated as ‘that time’. 

Since it’s used to talk about past events, the only rule that you really need to follow when using ‘aquella vez’ is to conjugate your verbs in past tense. Like other Spanish phrases with vez, this expression can have different placement in the sentence:

Todavía no sabemos qué pasó aquella vez
We still don’t know what happened that time

¿Te acuerdas de aquella vez que nos perdimos en Barcelona?
Do you remember that time we got lost in Barcelona?

Aquella vez, Emma se enojó conmigo porque rompí su celular
That time, Emma got angry at me because I broke her phone

Cada vez

What does ‘cada vez’ mean in Spanish? ‘Cada vez’ is the direct translation of ‘every time’ or ‘each time’. It could be used to express that a feeling or action is increasing or decreasing. Additionally, it expresses that an action always happens during certain circumstances. 

Although ‘cada vez’ has a direct translation, its meaning can vary depending on the context and the adjectives or adverbs that you use with it. Here are some phrases and examples that you can use as guidance. 

Examples of How to Use ‘Cada vez’

One of the most common ways to use ‘cada vez’ is to express that an action or behaviour always takes place during certain circumstances. In this case, ‘cada vez’ will become ‘cada vez que’ (each time that). 

Since this expression is very flexible with its placement, it’s difficult to follow a phrase structure. But notice that cada vez que introduces the circumstance that triggers an action or consequence. 

Cada vez que vamos a la playa se me olvida el bronceador
Every time that we go to the beach I forget the tanning lotion

Alan tartamudea cada vez que habla con Maya
Alan stutters every time that he talks with Maya

‘Cada vez’ also expresses that a behaviour, action or feeling is growing or decreasing. In order to do this, we need to add some adjectives and adverbs. However, this will affect the translation of ‘cada vez’.

  • Cada vez peor – Getting worse
  • Cada vez más – More and more 
  • Cada vez menos – Less and less
  • Cada vez mejor – Getting better

Cada vez te amo más
Every time I love you more

El español de Larissa está cada vez peor
Larissa’s Spanish is getting worse 

Julia es cada vez menos paciente con sus amigas
Julia is less and less patient with her friends

¿Estás practicando en casa? Tu español está cada vez mejor
Are you practicing at home? Your Spanish is getting better

A veces

What does ‘a veces’ mean in Spanish? ‘A veces’ expresses that an action takes place with certain frequency. In this context, ‘a veces’ is translated as ‘sometimes’, ‘at times’ and ‘occasionally’. 

Although it’s not a rule, it’s very likely that most of the time you’ll find ‘a veces’ at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence. Here are some examples:

A veces nos gusta caminar hasta nuestro trabajo
Sometimes we like to walk to our job

La verdad, a veces no te entiendo
To be honest, sometimes I don’t understand you

A veces, Kim y Adam se juntan para estudiar español
Occasionally, Kim and Adam meet to study Spanish

Todos los domingos salgo a caminar, a veces, llevo a mi perro
Every Sunday I go for a walk, sometimes, I take my dog with me

Otra vez

What does ‘otra vez’ mean in Spanish? In Spanish, ‘otra vez’ is used to express that an action or a state is taking place again. It can also be used to ask people to repeat an action. Therefore, this phrase could be translated as ‘again’, ‘once more’ or ‘another time’. 

Examples of How to Use ‘Otra vez’ in Spanish

‘Otra vez’ can be used in simple and more complicated statements. The only rule that you can use as a guide is to place it after a conjugated verb. However, in casual conversations, it’s possible that Spanish speakers change this placement. 

Quiero verte otra vez
I want to see you again

Penny y Luke van a hablar otra vez de lo mismo
Penny and Luke are going to talk about the same thing again

¿Qué vas a hacer mañana? Vamos otra vez al cine
What are you going to do tomorrow? Let’s go to the movies again

In Spanish there are some phrases built with ‘otra vez’ that are not translated as ‘again’. This is the case of la otra vez and una y otra vez. 

‘La otra vez’ is used to talk about past events and actions. It means ‘the other time’. 

La otra vez que fui a México no comí tacos
The other time that I went to Mexico, I didn’t eat tacos

¿Qué película vieron la otra vez que fueron al cine?
What movie did you see the other time that you went to the movies?

‘Una y otra vez’ expresses that an action is being performed repeatedly. It can be translated as ‘over and over’. 

Lisa sigue hablando de lo mismo una y otra vez
Lisa keeps talking about the same over and over

Había una vez in Spanish

What does ‘había una vez’ mean in Spanish? In Spanish, ‘había una vez’ is the opening phrase for a tale or story. It’s translated as ‘once upon a time’, but it can also mean ‘there once was’. Sometimes, ‘había una vez’ can be replaced by its synonym ‘érase una vez’. 

Había una vez una hermosa princesa que vivía en una torre…
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess that lived in a tower…

Érase una vez, en un país muy lejano, un valiente caballero…
Once upon a time, in a very far country, there was a brave knight…

As you may have noticed from the previous examples, you can use each one of these phrases to refer either to a singular or a plural subject. Keep in mind that these Spanish expressions with ‘vez’ are only used when telling fantasy stories or tales. Therefore, we wouldn’t use them to talk about a historical fact or tell a personal story.   

Wrapping Up

‘Vez’ is a Spanish word that can be very useful to express the frequency you perform or did an action. Additionally, ‘vez’ is also used to build expressions that we use on a daily basis. Using these expressions will allow you to improve your fluency. 

Related Resource: Tiempo vs Vez in Spanish

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I've been studying Spanish professionally as well as teaching it in Mexico and online for over 10 years. I’ve taught Spanish to a wide array of foreigners from many backgrounds. Over the years, I've made it my mission to work hard on refining many challenging to understand grammar topics to make my students' learning experiences easier, faster and more enjoyable. Read More About Me

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