Leçons Espagnol


The Verb Volver

The verb volver is translated as "to return," but it actually has a great variety of other meanings. Let's see how real Spanish speakers use it in real situations. 


Usually, the verb volver means "to come back." It's very common to use its infinitive form combined with another verb, like querer (to want) or ir (to go). Learning how to use the infinitive form of verbs in phrases is actually very useful, especially if you haven't yet mastered the conjugation of irregular verbs such as this one. 

¿Y quieres volver al centro? -Efectivamente.

And you want to come back to the center [of the city]? -Exactly.

Caption 48, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 12

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You can also use the verb volver figuratively. The following example translates as "again":

Otra vez, volver a hacernos daño.

One more time, hurting each other again.

Caption 24, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 15

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Another possible translation of this example is: "Again, going back to hurting each other." 


The combination of volver with the preposition a (to) is also a very useful one. You can combine it with other verbs in phrases such as volver a vernos (to see each other again), volver a empezar (to start all over again), volver a entrar (to reenter), etc. Or, you can use conjugated forms: 

Pero bueno, cuando pueda, me vuelvo a inscribir en otro gimnasio y me meto.

But well, when I can, I'll enroll again in another gymnasium and I'll go.

Caption 29, Patricia Marti - Diversión y Ejercicio

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Did you notice the use of the reflexive pronoun me? Well, the verb volver also has a reflexive form: volverse. It's not always easy to know how to  use it, though. it usually depends on the verb you are combining it with. As a general rule, you can't use the reflexive form if the following verb is a transitive verb (with a direct object). Compare these examples:

Luisa se volvió a desmayar (Luisa fainted again). It's a mistake to say "Luisa volvió a desmayar" only.
Luisa volvió a romper mi juguete (Luisa broke my toy again). It's a mistake to say "Luisa se volvió a romper mi juguete". 

But this is not always the case. You can actually use the reflexive form with transitive verbs as well, when the action of volver has a reflexive meaning (loosely, when the direct object is also the subject of the sentence). This is why me vuelvo a hacer la tarea (I [myself] get back to doing my homework) is different from vuelvo a hacer la tarea (I do my homework again).

Sometimes, the use of a personal pronoun is not an indication of a reflexive action but simply of the existence of a direct or indirect object. In the following example, the pronoun te substitutes for a direct object: 

Hijo, móntate adelante pero no te vuelvo a sacar a pasear más, ¿oíste?

Son, get in the front seat, but I am not going to take you out for a ride again, did you hear?

Caption 9, Chiste de Carlito - No. 3

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But here the pronoun te substitutes for an indirect object:

Te vuelvo a repetir...

I repeat it to you again...

Caption 74, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 8

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As a last example, a very common figurative meaning of the reflexive volverse is "to become":

Entonces, el asunto se vuelve más complicado.

So, the issue becomes more complicated.

Caption 32, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 3

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