Why does "Te vas a cansar" mean "You're going to get tired"? Irse means to leave, to go, to die, to go away and to forget. There is no translation which means "to become something" for instance, "to become tired".

  • 8
    I'm not really sure what your doubt is. You're saying that "irse" means "to go" but it surprises you that "irse a" translates as "going to"?
    – Charlie
    Aug 11, 2019 at 13:52
  • irse is to leave or go way, not to go. Me voy ahora. I'm leaving now.
    – Lambie
    Aug 11, 2019 at 17:15
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    The reflexive verb of "ir" means leave. "Ir" itself means "to go". So "Voy ahora" (following your example) I'm going now. (I'm on my way). Or as you said "me voy ahora" means I'm leaving now. ir = go whereas irse = leave
    – Ivan
    Aug 12, 2019 at 11:52
  • @Charlie We always tell people not to trust literal translations of periphrases such as the "be going to" structure in English. What "ir a" + infinitive means is not obvious, especially when complicated by a pronominal verb.
    – pablodf76
    Aug 12, 2019 at 12:03
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    One thing that may help is to try to stop thinking of Spanish and English as being equivalent; they're not. There is no English word or phrase that exactly means Spanish word or phrase XYZ; instead there is an English word or phrase (usually) that can be translated (with some degree of precision) to/from the Spanish word or phrase XYZ. Thinking of languages as completely separate entities that can be approximately translated one to the other is helpful when attempting to learn a new language. It prevents many errors like this one, and also opens to the door to thinking in the new language
    – bob
    Aug 12, 2019 at 17:48

3 Answers 3


Te vas a cansar or, alternatively, Vas a cansarte, illustrates two grammatical concepts:

  1. Pronominal verbs, like cansarse, which means "to get tired, to become tired"; contrast this with plain cansar which means "to tire, to make somebody tired". Pronominal verbs are those which use a "reflexive" pronoun even though they're not reflexive (like cansarse, caerse, reírse, etc.).

  2. The use of the verb ir plus a verbal infinitive to show future, as in vas a cansarte. This is similar to English to be going to. It's a very common structure because the "proper" future tense is used less and less in spoken Spanish.

Vas a + infinitive therefore means "You're going to" + whatever. And for cansarse, you have to employ a pronoun that refers back to the subject, in this case the second person singular pronoun te. Thus, vas a cansarte = "you're going to get tired". There are additional rules that say that, in this kind of structure, you can move the pronoun in certain ways; in particular, you can move it away from the back of the infinitive (vas a cansarte) and place it before the main verb (te vas a cansar). The pronoun is still bound to cansar, though.

ir a + infinitive

  • Unrelated to the question, but did @pablodf76 generate the diagram on the fly?
    – Lucas
    Aug 11, 2019 at 21:55
  • @Lucas The diagram was made with a vector editor (Inkscape), exported as a PNG file and then uploaded normally into the answer box. SE just uses imgur.com to store images.
    – pablodf76
    Aug 12, 2019 at 12:05

It's because the verb cansarse means "to get/become tired." The te is a part of cansarse and not a part of irse. Context tells you which verb the te corresponds to.

Equivalently, you could say Vas a cansarte.


This phrase translates literally to "You're going to tire", but that's not idiomatic in English. So instead, it's translated to "You're going to get tired".

There are small differences in languages like this, even for simple, basic phrases. For instance "Tengo sed" means literally "I have thirst"-- but nobody talks this way in English. English speakers say instead, "I am thirsty", meaning the exact same thing, so the phrase is translated to that, instead of literally.

  • I think the OP was puzzled by irse not by cansar
    – mdewey
    Aug 12, 2019 at 15:29
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    @mdewey could be, but OP harps more on "to become" part, which the "get" in English means.
    – user151841
    Aug 12, 2019 at 17:39
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    This answer is great because that it focuses on the difficulty (truthfully the impossibility) of translating idioms perfectly between two languages word-for-word. It also shows why attempting to learn one language via translation to and from another language is fraught with difficulty: because no two languages are equivalent to each other; they can at best be translated one to the other, and that imperfectly.
    – bob
    Aug 12, 2019 at 17:42
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    "Cansarse" can be translated in a way that retains the reflexive flavor: To tire oneself (out), e.g. You're going to tire yourself out. Aug 14, 2019 at 5:26
  • @aparente001At least, to my American ears, to wear out sounds more idiomatic, and while it is also reflexive, it doesn't preserve the exact verb.
    – user151841
    Aug 15, 2019 at 15:20

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