Salir vs Dejar vs Irse: Key Usage Differences

Salir vs dejar vs irse confuse learners because they all mean ‘to leave’, but aren’t interchangeable. Irse conveys and emphasizes that someone is leaving a place. Dejar expresses that someone leaves something or someone else in a place. Finally, salir indicates when a means of transportation leaves. It also means ‘to exit’, ‘to get out’, or ‘go out’. 

Me voy a las ocho para llegar temprano. 
I leave at eight to arrive early. 

El tren sale cada diez minutos. 
The train leaves every ten minutes. 

Daniel siempre deja su cartera en la mesa. 
Daniel always leaves his wallet on the table. 

Salir vs Dejar vs Irse Key Points

  • In Spanish, ‘to leave’ has three different translations (dejar, salir, irse). 
  • Dejar means ‘to leave’, but it refers to leaving someone or something in a place. 
    • When referring to places, it implies that a person abandoned or left a location behind
    • This information needs to be explicitly stated
  • Dejar + infinitive indicates that a person stops doing an activity. 
  • Irse emphasizes that a person leaves or departs from a place. It can stand on its own. 
  • Salir can be used to express that a person exits buildings, cars, rooms, or any confined space. 
    • Use the preposition ‘de’ to express where you’re exiting from. 

When to Use Salir vs Dejar vs Irse

In Spanish, the verb ‘to leave’ has three equivalents: salir, dejar, and irse. However, each one of these verbs has different functions. 

When to use dejar

Dejar means ‘to leave’, but with this meaning, this verb can only be used to convey that someone leaves something or someone in a place:

[Dejar conjugated] + [noun]

Dejé mis llaves en la mesa.
I left my keys on the table.

Dejo a los niños a las nueve. 
I leave the children at nine. 

¿Dónde quieres que deje tu bolsa?
Where do you want me to leave your bag?

Dejar can also refer to leaving a place, but it conveys that someone is abandoning such a location for good. 

Miriam dejó su pueblo para mudarse a la ciudad. 
Miriam left her town to move to the city. 

Take Note: In this context, the verb dejar is followed by a direct object, which means that you must use personal a if that object is a person or specific animal. Additionally, you can use dejar de + infinitive to express that someone stops doing an activity. 

¡Deja de jugar con la comida!
Stop playing with the food!

How and when to use irse

On the other hand, irse is used only to express and emphasize that someone or something leaves from a place. It can work alone in a sentence or you can include additional information, such as the hour or the place you leave. 

¡Ya me voy! Nos vemos mañana. 
I am leaving! See you tomorrow. 

El camión se va a las cinco y media. 
The bus leaves at five thirty. 

Manuel y yo nos fuimos de la oficina a las diez. 
Manuel and I left the office at ten. 

Take Note: A key difference between salir vs dejar vs irse is that irse is a pronominal verb in Spanish, which means that it works with reflexive pronouns

When to use salir

In the context of ‘leaving’, salir communicates that someone or something departs or exits a place. It’s close in meaning to ‘to come out’, ‘to get out’, ‘to go out’, and ‘to depart’. 

¡Sálganse del cuarto de su hermana!
Get out of your sister’s room!

Anne salió a tomar un poco de aire. 
Anne went out to get some fresh air. 

Nuestro avión sale a las diez de la mañana. 
Our plane leaves at ten in the morning.

On top of this meaning, salir also means ‘to go out’. 

Maggie salió con sus amigas. 
Maggie went out with her friends. 

Hoy no quiero salir, quiero descansar. 
I don’t want to go out today, I want to rest. 

Take Note: When talking about leaving a place, native speakers also use the reflexive form salirse to add emphasis. This form is often used interchangeably with irse. 

Me salí de la oficina a las diez. 
I left the office at ten. 

¿Por qué te saliste sin permiso?
Why did you leave without permission?

Difference Between Salir and Dejar

Although they can both be used to talk about leaving a place, salir and dejar have significant nuances in meaning. Dejar implies that someone goes away permanently, whereas salir just expresses that someone exits a place. 

Dejé ese trabajo porque era muy estresante.
I left that job because it was very stressful. 

Salí temprano del trabajo para ir al doctor. 
I left work early to go to the doctor. 

Naomi dejó la casa de sus papás cuando tenía quince años. 
Naomi left her parent’s house when she was fifteen years old. 

Naomi salió de la casa de sus papás para ir a la tienda.  
Naomi left her parents’ home to go to the store.

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

Recent Posts

Pin It on Pinterest