English speakers learning Spanish have a hard time understanding the similarities and differences between ya, todavía, and aún (or aun). They don't perfectly match up with the similar English words "already," "yet," and "still." What concept exactly does each of the Spanish words express? Is there a relatively easy way for a language learner to understand the differences, or is it a matter of memorizing which word is used in which type of phrase?

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    In Wisconsin, too, "yet" is often used as "again" or even "more". I remember a friend talking about someone he disliked being knocked down by someone he'd insulted. "I wish he'd knock him down again yet!", he said. And I recall an old guy watching me unload my car. He was amazed I had so much stuff and had assumed I was done when I came back for one more load. "YET??", He said. – user4193 Jun 25 '14 at 1:40
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    "Ya" can also mean "soon" or "right now" (to add to the confusion). – user0721090601 Aug 31 '14 at 0:40

The english equivalents would be:

Ya = Already

Todavía = Aún = Yet = Still

  • Ya he comprado el pan = I have already bought the bread.

  • Todavía no he comprado el pan = I still haven't bought the bread.

  • Aún no he comprado el pan = I haven't bought the bread yet.

Aún also means even (With a meaning of time):

Aún cuando había pagado, el señor no me dejó ir = Even when I had paid, the man didn't let me go.

Aun is written without accent when it doesn't mean still (Todavía):

No tengo tanto dinero, ¡ni aun la mitad! = I don't have that much money, not even half of it!

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    Do you have a reference for "Aún cuando había pagado...."? I'd have written it without the accent. But on further reflection, I wonder if both aun and aún could be correct, depending on what you're trying to say, with aun making your unfulfilled expectation prominent and aún emphasazing the sequence of events. – Michael Wolf Sep 4 '14 at 18:54
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    Good question, @MichaelWolf and I'm sorry nobody has taken a stab at answering it yet (or not via this comments section anyway), but let me give it a try. Admittedly, I had to read your question a couple of times before I could answer. You wrote your question clearly enough, but the answer to your question is somewhat complicated. However, after visiting this site here: campusvirtual.ull.es/ocw/pluginfile.php/4162/mod_resource/… ... – Lisa Beck Jul 20 '18 at 4:30
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    @MichaelWolf … I have come to the conclusion that when you write/say "Aún cuando había pagado", you are conveying this: "S/he/Ud. still hadn't paid." When you write/say "Aun cuando había pagado", you convey this: "S/he/Ud. hadn't even paid." The first, with accent, is equivalent to “todavía” (still). – Lisa Beck Jul 20 '18 at 4:55
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    @MichaelWolf Complicating matters is the fact that “even” is not an exact equivalent of “still,” which corresponds better with “even now,” “even so,” or “even though.” In the second example – aun – correlates with “even” when “even” is used as an intensive,* (WARNING: PROFANITY/STRONG LANGUAGE at this link) and this equates to the American Heritage dictionary’s meaning of “even” when used as an adverb. (See meaning 1.b. in the 3rd edition of the American Heritage dictionary, print version.) – Lisa Beck Jul 20 '18 at 4:57
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    @MichaelWolf (and anyone else who may be interested): You didn't ask about this, but in the process of trying to figure out the differences between "aún" and "aun", I came upon the phrases "aún así" and "aun así". As I understand it, the same meanings discussed earlier still apply, but it looks as if even native speakers get these two confused as evidenced by the fact that El País includes an entry for it in its style guide. You can see for yourself at this link here: goo.gl/dhfzwx. – Lisa Beck Jul 20 '18 at 6:04

Ya: When a positive finished action is spoken. "I have already done the homework" would be "Ya he hecho los deberes".

Todavía and aún. I would say they are perfect synonyms, as everyone outlined in this post. But I want to note something. If I said 'todavía', I would be more likely to do the action after saying that. Also, it is expected to me to do it and I kind of deceive someone if I don't do it. If I said 'aún', which would be slightly more vague, I am just informing, not making up any excuse.

Examples: Todavía no he arreglado el cuarto. Aún no he arreglado el cuarto. The first one would be said to slightly deceive someone (sorry, I haven't tidied up my room yet); in the second, I'm just informing or complaining (I haven't tidied up my room so I cannot find anything!).

It's just my Spanish point of view. It also might depend on the region.

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    It sounds like the difference might be todavía = "I haven't done it yet" vs. aún = "I still haven't done it". Does that capture the distinction accurately? – treat your mods well Sep 11 '18 at 17:40
  • "If I said 'todavía', I would be more likely to do the action after saying that." As a native english speaker, "yet" seems different from still in the same way, in that yet implies it will happen later. – Frank Schwieterman Dec 17 '19 at 15:42

Ya = something changed

Todavía = aún = something stayed the same

Sometimes todavía and ya map neatly onto still/yet and already respectively:

Are you still here? — Todavía estás aquí?

She has yet to do it. — Todavía tiene que hacerlo.

He has already eaten. — Ya ha comido.

The trouble is that it's not always a nice 1-1 map of words. In some circumstances, the same word is used for both situations in English, and you need to ask yourself, Has something changed (ya) or has something not changed (todavía)?

Has he done it yet? — Ya lo ha hecho? change: not done it → done it

He hasn't done it yet. — Todavía no lo ha hecho. no change

This idea will also help you navigate the situations where ya doesn't translate neatly to one word in English - it can be used just as a marker to indicate that something has changed:

Ya lo sé.Now I know.

Ya verás como te gusta. — (literally) You will see how you like it. / (figuratively) You'll come to like it. now you don't like it, in the future you will - change

Hacemos el ejercicio, lo corregimos, y ya. — We'll do the exercise, correct it, and then we'll be done. change

  • Great answer. I like the part about the marker. Also the source web page does a good job of explaining about omitted words. – aparente001 May 7 '18 at 12:35

In English dialects, there are subtle differences between the meanings of one of these three words. If you go back some seventy years, the phrase "Is he yet reading?" would have been understood differently in Ohio and in New England.

In New England, this phrase would have been understood as a stilted way of saying, "Is he reading yet?" something one would say of a child.

In Ohio, it meant, "Is he still reading?" something one would say of an old man.

The matchup for ya, aún, and todavía is close but not exact. You shouldn't expect it to be exact. With prepositions, the mismatches are even more evident.


Ya + present tense verb = now. Ya voy. I go now. Ya estoy haciendolo. I'm doing it now.

Ya + preterite verb = already. Ya lavé los platos. I washed the dishes already. Ya fui a la tienda. I went to the store already.

Ya + no + present tense verb = no longer or any more. This is when you want to say you use to do something in the past but at present you're not doing it. Ya no estudio español. I don't study Spanish anymore. Ya no toco la guitarra. I no longer play the guitar.

Todavia + present tense verb = still. Todavia estás estudiando español? Are you still studying Spanish? Todavia quiero ir a españa algún día. I still want to go to Spain some day.

Todavia + no + present or past tense verb = yet or not yet. Todavia no lavo los platos. I haven't wash the dishes yet. Todavia no limpié mi habitacion. I haven't cleaned my room yet.

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    ¡Bienvenido al sitio Don Goins!. (Puedes pegar un vistazo aquí spanish.stackexchange.com/help/formatting si quisieras ver formas posibles de editar el formato y hacer visualmente más eficaz tu respuesta) – ipp Oct 16 '19 at 15:27
  • In Ireland, we use ,still,yet, and already in the normal standard ways. In the south-west we may also use "always",in the following context:" he must do it always" meaning "he has yet /still to do it", or "he has to do it yet". It comes from the Irish language and this is now an example of Hiberno-English. – Bluelion7 Oct 2 '20 at 21:05

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