Aquí vs Acá: The Ultimate Guide to ‘Here’ in Spanish
Aquí vs acá, have you ever wondered what’s the difference between these two tiny words? Have you searched online for help to be able to distinguish the situations when you’ve got to use one versus the other? I’m sure you did. We all did.
You came to the right place, and I promise to provide you with the ultimate guide to how to use “here” in Spanish. I will destroy some myths that teem on the Internet sites for Spanish learners and I’ll show you when you can use both of them, and in which situations there’s only one option possible.
Ready to go?
The Truth and Myths About Aquí vs Acá
I don’t know who started this, but you’ll find very elaborate theories about aquí vs acá. Numerous blogs and “Internet experts” claim that aquí means “in this place” and acá means “to this place”, and is used with verbs of movement. Forget it now, please.
Some others will try to convince you to use aquí instead of acá, as it is more correct, formal, and acceptable. Forget it too, please. There are countries in Latin America, where aquí and acá are totally interchangeable, countries where acá rules and people almost never pronounce aquí, and then, there is Spain, where the tendency is totally the opposite.
So? Where does the truth lie? In case of doubt, always go to the famous Diccionario de la Real Academia Española that is like the Spanish Philologists Oracle, and get your doubts solved once and for all. I’m a philologist and that’s what I always do. I’ve done it now too, and I’ll present you with a digested and “made easy” guide to aquí vs acá.
Just to start, and I’ll make it short, not to get you bored, a long time ago these words meant something slightly different. When Julius Ceasar was the boss and Latin was the language of use, aquí was “eccum hic” and acá “eccum hac”, the first one being a bit more precise as far as location in time and place is concerned. Just a bit, however. Anyway, some people still feel it the same way.
The truth is, these two words are in most cases totally interchangeable. They are both demonstrative adverbs used to show the place of action. (If you need a refresher on adverbs read about the 8 parts of speech.) To be honest, there are only a few situations when you are forced to use one instead of the other, and even if you mess it up, the difference between these terms is minimal.
So, let’s learn, once for all, how to use and apply “here” in Spanish.
Interchangeable Uses of Aquí vs Acá
As I said before, in most cases, you´ll use one or the other and be completely correct. Depending on where you are, the locals may prefer one form to the other, but remember, in the following situations it’s just a question of national linguistic taste.
In This Place
Both aquí and acá mean “here, in this place”, although acá may mean “in this place and close to it”. Let’s see some examples.
Acá todo es más caro. / Aquí todo es más caro.
Everything is more expensive here.
Puedes esconderlo acá abajo. / Puedes esconderlo aquí abajo.
You can hide it down here.
No pongan las sillas acá. / No pongan las sillas aquí.
Don’t put the chairs here.
Ya no vive acá. / Ya no vive aquí.
He no longer lives here.
Acá atrás están los dulces. / Aquí atrás están los dulces.
Here in the back are the sweets.
To This Place
You can also switch between aquí and acá to say “here, to this place”, and again acá may extend it a bit meaning “to this place and close to it”.
Juana vino aquí una vez. / Juana vino acá una vez.
Juana came here once.
Tráigalo aquí, por favor. / Tráigalo acá, por favor.
Bring it here, please.
Regresaron aquí a toda prisa. / Regresaron acá a toda prisa.
They came back here in a hurry.
The opposition aquí vs acá disappears when we want to say “here, this place” and we add a preposition before the word.
El tren pasa por aquí. / El tren pasa por acá.
The train goes through here.
Subió hasta aquí con todas las compras. / Subió hasta acá con todas las compras.
He came up here with everything he bought.
Non-interchangeable uses of aquí vs acá
Now, there are some specific situations when the grammar purists will insist on only one of the two options. Let’s have a look at the specific cases for aquí and acá separately.
In This Point / In This Question
You’ll use aquí to refer to what you have just mentioned before.
Pedro dice que no lo sabe y aquí está el problema.
Pedro says he doesn’t know and here is the problem.
Aquí can also be used as a synonym to ahora when used with a preposition.
De aquí a tres días, ya no tendremos comida.
Three days from now we will have no food.
Insisto en todo lo que he dicho hasta aquí.
I insist on everything I have said so far.
At That moment
This is a strange meaning of aquí because you’ll use it to refer to something that happened in the past.
Aquí no me pude contener y le dije lo que pensaba.
At that moment I could not contain myself and I told him what I thought.
Le tocó la lotería: a partir de aquí, su vida cambió por completo.
He won the lottery: from that moment on, his life changed completely.
Adverb Used to Present People
You’ll use aquí to present people close to you or to emphasize their presence.
Aquí Tomás, mi compañero de trabajo.
This is Tomás, my co-worker.
Aquí mi hija, siempre tan irónica.
Here my daughter, always so ironic.
You’ll use acá and not aquí to say “till now”, and mark an end of a period induced by a word de or desde.
De ayer acá no ha cambiado nada.
From yesterday till now, nothing has changed.
Desde entonces acá la he estado cuidando.
Since then, I have been taking care of her.
This person here
This is the only case when acá used as a pronoun and not an adverb and can mean “this man or woman standing near to here”. It’s like a synonym to éste/ ésta.
Acá tiene razón.
The one here is right.
You see, it’s not a difficult topic. Aquí vs acá is not so contradictory as some people like to present it, and the situations when you’ll make a mistake if you use it incorrectly are only a few.
Now, all your doubts about aquí vs acá should be gone and the only thing left is practicing. I know that it might be difficult to come up with exercises and dialogues to use your newly acquired skills and that’s why I want to help you. You can sign up for a free class and put into practice your knowledge about aquí vs acá with one of our friendly native teachers from Guatemala.
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