When hanging out with friends, there will inevitably be times when we have to duck away from the group for a moment. Any number of distractions can drag us away — nipping out to buy gum, say, or to get out cash, pick up a friend or, less glamorously, answering the call of nature.
Whatever drives you to tear yourself momentarily away from your friends, you’d do well to communicate something to them so they don’t think you’ve just vanished without a trace.
In English, we like to do this by saying stuff like “I’ll be right back” or “be back in second”. What, then, would be the way to express this same idea in Spanish?
As ever, you have a few different options available to you.
Although it’s certainly understood everywhere, the phrase ya vengo (loosely, “I’m already on my way back”) is most used in Latin America (rather than Spain) as the equivalent of “I’ll be right back”.
For example, say you’re out with friends at a bar in Argentina and you suddenly realise you’ve got no cash in your wallet to pay for the round. To finance the evening’s entertainment, you’ll need to head to the cash machine pronto.
Before dashing out the door, you turn to the rest of your group and say:
This is a Latino’s way to say: “I’ve gotta go get some cash out. Be back in a sec”.
We should also mention that the expression changes a little, but only a little, if there’s more than one person involved in the brief excursion away from your crew.
To demonstrate this, let’s revisit the example above. But this time around, it is both you and another friend who need to go withdraw some money. In this case, you’d need to say not ya vengo, but:
As your way to communicate: “we’ll be right back”.
En seguida/ahora vuelvo
As well as the above, you can also a range of other expressions for the same purpose. Some of these – including vuelvo enseguida, ahora vuelvo and en seguida regreso – tend to be preferred in Spain over and above all this ya vengo craziness.
Let’s look at an example. Sat with some local buddies in a charming restaurant in Madrid, it isn’t long before you realise that the delicious drinks you’ve been quaffing have worked their way through your system. Time to exit stage left and go avail yourself of the restaurant’s facilities.
With the energetic conversation between your Spanish friends in full flow (when is it not?), you’re not keen to interrupt to share the intricacies of your bathroom requirements. Instead, you merely stand up from your chair and politely comment, to no-one in particular:
Which is a perfectly excellent way to express “I’ll be right back” in Spanish.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also easily substitute this with one of a couple of alternatives, such as:
All these expressions mean essentially the same thing, though the most popular local variant changes from country to country.
You’ll make yourself understood by using any of them as a substitute for “be right back”, but you can gain extra language cache by listening and imitating the version most popular in your region of interest.
Got comments, questions or looking for some clarification? Unleash your thoughts below!