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"Me voy" means "I'm leaving". The subject of the verb "voy" is "yo" and it is omitted.

Is the reflexive pronoun "me" the object of the verb? And if so, why is it essential to use "me" when the subject is "yo"? Does this syntax have to do with the particular verb?

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This is because ir can be also irse, that is, a pronominal verb. In such cases, the verb is conjugated together with a personal form.

Un verbo pronominal es el que usa los pronombres reflexivos (me, te, se, nos, os, se), generalmente es verbo intransitivo (no tiene objeto). Se usa el pronombre reflexivo para cambiar el sentido del verbo, acentuar la acción o indicar que la acción directamente afecta al sujeto.

Other examples:

  • dormir / dormirse
  • poner / ponerse
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    To further add to an already good answer, let me say that "me voy" means "I'm leaving" and if you do not use "me" and just say "voy" it is equivalent to "I'm coming" like when someone asks you to come. There are other uses of " voy" without "me" but this is to illustrate that using or not using "me" really changes the meaning. – DGaleano Nov 25 '15 at 18:46
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    @DGaleano You should convert that comment into an answer. – Gorpik Nov 26 '15 at 7:25
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    Thanks @Gorpik for the support. I like the points but I'm not crazy about them and I think in this case fedorqui should get them. I even up-vote his answer. Perhaps fedorqui would like to edit his answer and add some parts of my comment. I would have no problem with that. – DGaleano Nov 26 '15 at 13:28
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    @DGaleano It is not a question of points. I think fedorqui's answer is missing the specific difference in meaning between both varieties of the verb, and this is very important here. Of course, whether he uses your comment to improve his answer or you write it yourself is quite immaterial for me. I just want to have the best possible answer in the end. – Gorpik Nov 26 '15 at 17:45
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    Well @Gorpik, your absolutely right. Thanks for taking the time to teach me good forum behavior. I just did as you suggested. – DGaleano Nov 26 '15 at 18:26
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To further add to an already good answer by fedorqui let me say that you are right and "me voy" means "I'm leaving", however if you do not use the reflexive "me" and just say "voy" it is equivalent to "I'm coming" like when someone asks you to come.

In response to a question like "¿quién va a ir a comprar la cerveza?" (who is going to buy the beer?) you would answer "yo voy" (I'll go)

There are other uses of " voy" without "me" but this is to illustrate that using or not using "me" really changes the meaning.

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In this case the pronoun has inchoative function. That is, it indicates that the action begins to be realized.

Voy a Francia. (I go to France)

Me voy a Francia. (I'm going to France, now or at some point in past or future)

Durmió. (She slept)

Se durmió. (She fell asleep)

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