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So I have a doubt. I was talking with a cousin and I said:

Entonces de pronto vengo en enero.

And he said, isn't it voy ? I thought about it and I think that both are correct.

Am I wrong?

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As a rule of thumb:

Vengo is coming from.

Ir is going somewhere or going to do something (including leaving the current place).

I would have used voy too in that context. I live in USA now and my family in Spain. A phone conversation would be like:

My father: Hijo, vas a venir (aquí) a España por Navidades este año?

Me: No. No voy este año. Esta vez no puedo cogerme vacaciones, papá (No voy a ir).

If I could make it there for Christmas, once there, I could then be saying:

Vengo desde USA con regalos para todos!

And If I'm talking about leaving a place:

Me voy el viernes de vuelta a casa.

Si no me suben el sueldo me voy de la empresa.

Since I would be already there (in their location). I used vengo for the meaning of coming (or coming back) from somewhere:

Vengo del trabajo, por eso todavía llevo puesto traje y corbata.

Vengo de ver a los abuelos. Os mandan recuerdos.

Note that you could be saying "Entonces de pronto vengo en enero." Think about this context: You are explaining the situation that got you there, and for some reason you are using "presente histórico":

Me entero de que mi madre está muy enferma. Entonces, de pronto, cojo un avión y (me) vengo aquí en enero para cuidarla. Pasan tres semanas y ella empieza a mejorar...

But I guess that that is not what you where trying to say, since is a very tricky use of the verb tenses, so:

Vengo from Venir (people come to where you are) for coming from: I come from (there)

Voy from Ir (to move to a different place from the starting point) for going: I'm going (there)

Edit: (kudos para dockeryz por señalar este uso) parece ser que en algunos países latinoamericanos es aceptable el uso informal de "vengo" por "voy" cuando la acción implica inmediatez (como una forma de extender el "ya vengo"/"ya mismo estoy de vuelta" similar a decir "enseguida estoy allí" en lugar de "enseguida estaré allí"). En cierto países latinoamericanos la expresión "me vengo" tiene además connotaciones sexuales:

"Me vengo" es slang para eyacular

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  • +1 For usage of examples (and for generate an answer much better than mine). – Mauricio Arias Olave Nov 20 '14 at 14:29
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    I disagree that Vengo only means coming from.. Viene means he's coming... Ya vengo... I'm on my way – dockeryZ Nov 20 '14 at 16:48
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    Actually that would be a regional difference. In Spain nobody would use "ya vengo" but "ya voy". e.g. if someone is rushing you to do something yo say "que ya voy..." or if they ask if you already left to go somewhere "estoy yendo (estoy de camino)". Thanks for pointing out that regional difference. – Diego Nov 20 '14 at 16:57
  • Thanks for the answer but as dockeryz said, it's not always coming from. That's the main reason I asked the question. It may be relevant to say that I am latinamerican and our spanish use is slightly different as in Spain, not necessarily incorrect. Since it is a place (2 hours from where I am) that I go often to I used vengo. I think it is an exception in use. The thing is I am not using it as 'leaving' a place but rather as coming from x to y. hmmmm – Joze Nov 20 '14 at 17:44
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    @Joze, then the disagreement you had with your cousin over the word might be due to a regional difference, not about the meaning/usage of the words. He corrected you as I would have had (and there was no much context to infer that particularity or region, time to destination, etc.) – Diego Nov 20 '14 at 17:51
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The simplest difference for these two terms is to consider them as this:

  • Voy: is like going, from a current place to another place.
  • Vengo: is like coming, from another place to a current place.

So, "I'm going to your house" and "I'm coming from Canada", would be, "Voy a tu casa" and "Vengo de Canada".

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  • +1 simple and answers the question – Rodrigo Nov 20 '14 at 18:43
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These are different verbs:

  • vengo is for venir
  • voy is for ir

vengo en enero sounds better to me like "I'm coming in january" while "I'm going in january" looks to be missing something.

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La preposición utilizada

It all depends upon the preposition used after the verb. Although they have different contexts as far as their definition, they still mean relatively the same thing.

Although, using the wrong verb will sound a bit strange.

  • Vengo de <== Coming from
  • Vengo a <== Come to
  • Vengo por <== Coming by ( as in Come by airplane )
  • Vengo con <== Come with

  • Ir de <== Go from

  • Ir a <== Go to
  • Ir por <== Go to/by ( as in .. pass by, or go by... e.g to go by plane, to go by the school )
  • Ir con <== Go with

Using your example

  • I'm coming in January
  • I'm going in January

The verb ir does have a distinct feature though.. it is reflexive.

Voy en enero is very dry spoken and sounds a bit primitive. Instead, you would say

Entonces de pronto me voy en enero

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    "voy en enero" doesn't sound dry to me. "voy" doesn't necessarily imply "me voy". You are changing the meaning from "I go to a place" to "I leave a place": "Te viene mejor el mes que viene? Entonces voy en enero a visitarte, y no en diciembre" – Diego Nov 20 '14 at 17:17
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There's (at least) one situation in which using "Entonces de pronto vengo en Enero" is correct:

  • if you're physically with your cousin at the time.
  • if you will be elsewhere before January
  • if you will get back to the place you are with your cousin.

In that case, "voy" is incorrect, because you'd be coming back. The equivalent in English would be "So, I might come visit you (again) in January."

A common usage of the phrase: when you're going out, you might say to your wife "Vengo a las 8", and it would have the same meaning as "Vuelvo a las 8".

I think in general, if you can substitute "Vuelvo" in place of "Vengo", the sentence would be correct.

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  • +1 por ofrecer otras alternativas al uso de "vengo" – Diego Nov 20 '14 at 19:35
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There, you're omitting the subject in your sentence (in this case, I "me" (first person)).

Entonces de pronto yo vengo en enero.

If you review the "conjugación del verbo (ir)" the most adequate conjugation of subject "I (yo)" for your sentence is:

Entonces de pronto voy en enero.

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You couldn't use "Vengo en Enero" if you are referring to going to USA from Spain for example, while you are in Spain.

You have to use "Voy", because "Vengo de" means coming from somewhere (while already here) and "Voy a" means going to somewhere (while being here).

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Voy means that I am going somewhere. Vengo means that I am coming here. I am going to New York in june (you are in Japan) Voy a Nueva York en junio (you are in Japan)

I am coming to New York in june (you are in New York but planning to come back) Vengo a Nueva York en junio (you are in New York but planning to come back)

Cheers!

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