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I heard the expression "llava" / "ya va" (?) being used in Venezuelan Spanish. It seems to have the meaning of "wait a moment", but my Mexican friend don't understand it.

Does anyone who know what this word means and how to spell it?

  • Your Mexican friend might say "ahorita mismo compadre" :) (Disclaimer: I actually haven't got the faintest idea of actual Mexican usage beyond humoristic cliches) – DPM Jan 28 '12 at 23:48
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    @Jubbat: my attempt form Mexicanism would be “Ya merito”. – Carlos Eugenio Thompson Pinzón Oct 4 '13 at 11:02
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I lived in Venezuela for 23 years and speak fluent Spanish. "Ya va" is a colloquialism, much like "Hang on a minute". Note that it has NOTHING to do with the verb "ir" or "to go", in the same way that "Hang on a minute" has nothing to do with the verb "to hang". In Venezuela it means: In an argument or conflict: "Hold it right there!" or "Hold your horses!" In normal conversation, after receiving a request: "Hang on a minute." (because I´m busy, for example) NB: "Ya voy!" is also a colloquialism, but is not used in the same type of context. While "Ya va" effectively means "Wait!", "Ya voy" means: "I'm on it!" or "Coming!" or "Be right there!". In this context, "voy" IS related to the verb "ir" or "to go" - so "ya voy" can also mean "Going, already!" or similar. I hope that helps.

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Ya va is also used in Argentina to tell the other person to wait for a moment. Some possible translations would be:

be right there
give me a second/moment (please)
just a second/moment (please)
wait a second/moment (please)
one second/moment (please)

...plus other similar variations, and which one to use will probably depend on the context.

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  • Does it have a literal translation or way to understand it? I've heard ya voy in other countries which makes sense, but ya va doesn't make sense to me. – jrdioko Jan 28 '12 at 6:05
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    Va is the conjugation for the singular of the third person. It may have originated on situations where the person saying ya va is actually saying that another person will be with you in a moment; but nowadays it's used for all kinds of situations. – Eduardo Jan 28 '12 at 6:10
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    Both "ya va" and "ya voy" are also used in Spain – Javi Jan 28 '12 at 15:00
  • @Cadenza Was this answer useful for you? If so, please accept it. If not, please say why is not OK for you. – JoulSauron Jul 7 '12 at 9:05
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    It is very common in Colombia. I would add that “ya va” (and “ya voy”) are actually little lies. A litteral translation would be I'm already going/comming, while the actual meaning is wait for me (because I'm already comming even if I haven't moved a muscle yet, nor will I for a while). – Carlos Eugenio Thompson Pinzón Oct 4 '13 at 11:11
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Literal translation is

[He/she/it] is already going.

From ya (already) and va (he/she/it goes), however it would be more idiomatically in English as “(he/she/it)'s already coming”.

A similar expression is Ya voy, meaning “I'm already coming” (or just “coming!”).

Two meaning shift has occurred. The first is a meaning shift in the intention. If you're asked to come to a place, your answer “I'm already coming” has an implicit “Wait for me!”. This way, the phrases ¡ya voy! and ¡ya va! actually ended meaning just “Wait!”, regardless if you already are moving towards the request or not.

Secondly, the third person singular has become such a fixed phrase that it is used for any person or situation, including the first person.

So when you request something to someone, ¡ya va! actually means:

Wait! (wait an indefinite amount of time until I or someone else attend your request).

Apparently ¡ya va! is understood this way in Venezuela, Spain, Colombia, Puerto Rico, etc. The only people having problem seem to be the Mexicans, but this expression might be similar to

¡Ya merito!

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To add to @Eduardo's answer, note that ya va is an informal, colloquial way of asking another person to wait for a moment, so I guess that (possibly) closer translations would be more in the lines of just a sec or wait a mo' (for spoken and written language).

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  • Creo que tu comentario es bastante significativo. Tal vez sería buena idea ponerlo como comentario en la respuesta elegida ;) – Arkana May 17 '13 at 8:46
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Ya voy or ya va...as in English "coming!" Like when mom/dad says "let's go" a proper reply to someone you are that familiar with, as in mom/dad, would be "ya voy!" or "ya va!" The difference... "ya voy" "I'm coming"; "ya va" ... "he/she/it is coming".

However, I've also used "ya va" in the sense of "here it comes". When you know somebody is about to do something typical/expected... "look, here it comes"..."mira (look), ya va (here it comes).

For example... Joe you're up on the batting cage, "ya voy".

As Cadenza says, it is very generic Spanish. We use it in Puerto Rico as well. Check the uses of the verb at http://www.rae.es it is the official site for the Spanish language or the Spanish (language) Royal Academy (REAL ACADEMIA ESPAÑOLA)

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