caminar vs andar

How to Say WALK in Spanish

There are two Spanish verbs, Caminar and Andar, which mean ‘to walk’ and/or ‘to go’. In this article, we will look at their difference between caminar and andar and theimost appropriate uses of each.

Spanish Verb ANDAR

Andar is an irregular verb of movement. The word comes from the Latin root «ambulāre».

It means to move from one place to another but it acquires different connotations depending on the subject the action expressed by the verb is referring to:

  1. Animated beings = walk on foot.
  2. Inanimate beings = go from one position to another.

ANIMATED BEINGS:

When we talk of an animated being, such as a person or an animal, Andar is generally understood as the act of traveling by foot.

This case is literally translated as to walk, amble, stroll, jog, run or hike, because it refers to the act of using both feet.

Example:

  • Mariana anda de prisa después del trabajo para volver a casa. -> Mariana walks quickly after work to get back home.
  • Venimos andando desde el Boulevard de la Luz hasta la esquina Montemayor. -> We came walking from the Boulevard de la Luz to Montemayor’s corner.

This use of Andar is quite common in Spain, whereas in Latin America, Caminar is mostly preferred to talk about a pedestrian.

INANIMATE BEINGS

When we talk of an inanimate being, such as a train, a clock or a planet, Andar is understood as to be in motion, the action of transferring from one particular spot to another.

Example:

  • El tren anda a toda máquina mientras cruza las montañas. -> The train goes at full throttle while crossing the mountains.

Use of ANDAR in Informal Spanish:

In colloquial Spanish, particularly in Latin America, the verb Andar has two everyday uses:

  1. As an auxiliary verb (instead of Estar, one of the Spanish verbs that mean ‘to be’) to form a verbal periphrasis.
  2. As the action of riding (a bike, a horse, etc.).

AUXILIARY VERBS

A verbal periphrasis is the association of two verbs that work as a single unit to transmit a particular idea. An aspectual verbal periphrasis adds a hue of the development of the action that is currently taking place. Thus, it has a continuous aspect.

In this case, Andar works as a “signal” to the reader or listener that the subject is doing a particular thing in that exact moment. Therefore, it is mostly found in sentences formed in the present progressive tense.

Example:

  • Marco anda estudiando en la biblioteca. -> Marco is studying at the library.
  • Los detectives andan investigando el caso del asesinato. -> The detectives are investigating the murder case.
  • Ando viendo si consigo un aventón para la fiesta. -> I am hoping to get a ride for the party.
  • Mi madre anda cocinando la cena de Navidad. -> My mother is cooking the Christma dinner.

But it can also be used to talk about the past and the future.

Example:

  • Marco andará estudiando en la biblioteca. -> Marco will be studying at the library.
  • Los detectives andaban investigando el caso del asesinato. -> The detectives were investigating the murder case.

The verbal periphrasis is formed with the auxiliary verb Andar conjugated in simple present tense and the gerund of the main verb. Remember that there is a rule of concordance of person and gender.

NOUN/PRONOUN + ANDAR + GERUND

Example:

  • Laura anda entrenando para el maratón de la Ciudad de México. -> Laura is training for Mexico City’s marathon.
  • Los niños andan jugando en el jardín. -> The kids are playing in the garden.
  • Ando buscando un departamento en la colonia Polanco. -> I am looking for an apartment in Polanco area.

As you can observe from the examples below, in these occasions the verb Andar can be substituted for the verb Estar (is, are, am).

  • Laura anda entrenando -> Laura está entrenando (is)
  • Los niños andan jugando -> Los niños están jugando (are)
  • Ando buscando un departamento -> Estoy buscando un departamento (am)

ANDAR AS ‘TO RIDE’:

In spoken Spanish is very common (and favored) to use Andar when the action is linked to bikes and horses:

  1. To ride a bicycle -> andar en bicicleta
  2. To ride a horse -> andar a caballo
  3. To ride a motorbike -> andar en moto

Example:

  • Mi padre me enseñó a andar en bici. -> My dad taught me to ride a bike.
  • ¿Sabes andar a caballo? -> Do you know how to ride a horse?
  • No le gusta andar en la cuatrimoto. -> He doesn’t like to ride on the ATV motorbike.

When talking about objects in motion or means of travel, it is perfectly fine to use the verb Andar. However, it is preferred to choose specific verbs for each mode of transport:

  1. A plane -> flies by air -> vuela por los aires
  2. A train -> makes a journey on the railroad -> viaja por las vías
  3. A bike -> rolls along the path -> rueda en el camino
  4. A car -> is driven on the pavement -> se maneja sobre el pavimento
  5. A sailboat -> sails the sea -> navega por el mar
  6. A cruise ship -> cruises the ocean -> cruza el océano
  7. A spaceship -> is launched to space -> es lanzado al espacio

Spanish Idiomatic Expressions with ANDAR

difference between caminar and andar

Here is a list of idiomatic expressions to add to your vocabulary!

SPANISH ENGLISH
¡Ándale! Go on!/Come on!
¿Cómo andas? How are you?
¿En dónde andas? Where are you?
Andar por malos pasos To be in bad company
Andar con cuidado To be careful
Andar en las nubes To have your head in the clouds
Andar parado To be stuck in traffic
Andar viendo To be looking for viable options
Andar de chismoso To be nosey
Andar a pie To walk by foot
Andar descompuesto To be broken down
Andar crudo To be hangover
Andar borracho To be drunk
Andar en la Luna To be distracted
Andar a tientas To be left in the dark (about a situation)
Andar justo de dinero To be tight on money
Andar cagándola To be messing up
Anda ligando To be flirting
Andar jugando To be playing around
Andar sin rodeos To go straignt to the point
Andar de cabeza To be losing your mind
Andar de un lado para otro To run from one place to another doing errands
Andar loco por alguien To be crazy about someone
Andar con prisa To be in a hurry
Andar enamorado To be in love
Andar liado To be busy
Andar metido en todo To be active and participate in everything
Andar detrás de algo To be behind something (generally negative)

CAMINAR vs. ANDAR

how to say walk in spanish

In the chart below you can compare the conjugation of both verbs in different tenses for the Spanish Indicative Mood.

SIMPLE INDICATIVE ‘ANDAR’
PRONOUN PRESENT IMPERFECT PRETERITE FUTURE CONDITIONAL
Yo Ando Andaba Anduve Andaré Andaría
Tú/Vos Andas Andabas Anduviste Andarás Andarías
Usted Anda Andaba Anduvo Andará Andaría
Él/Ella Anda Andaba Anduvo Andará Andaría
Nosotros Andamos Andábamos Anduvimos Andaremos Andaríamos
Ustedes Andan Andaban Anduvieron Andarán Andarían
Vosotros Andáis Andabais Anduvisteis Andaréis Andaríais
 
SIMPLE INDICATIVE ‘CAMINAR’
PRONOUN PRESENT IMPERFECT PRETERITE FUTURE CONDITIONAL
Yo Camino Caminaba Caminé Caminaré Caminaría
Tú/Vos Caminas Caminabas Caminaste Caminarás Caminarías
Usted Camina Caminaba Caminó Caminará Caminaría
Él/Ella Camina Caminaba Caminó Caminará Caminaría
Nosotros Caminamos Caminábamos Caminamos Caminaremos Caminaríamos
Ustedes Caminan Caminaban Caminaron Caminarán Caminarían
Vosotros Camináis Caminabais Caminasteis Caminaréis Caminaríais

You can practice how to conjugate ANDAR and CAMINAR at LiveLingua.com.

Difference between CAMINAR and ANDAR

how to say walk in spanish

Caminar is a regular verb that describes motion. The most common use of Caminar is literally translated ‘to walk on foot’, very straightforward!

Example:

  • Salimos a caminar. -> We went out for a stroll.
  • La mejor forma de conocer la ciudad es caminando. -> Walking is the best way to get to know the city.
  • Los niños caminaban por la banqueta cuando encontraron una moneda tirada en el piso. -> The children were walking on the sidewalkd when they found a coin on the floor.
  • ¡Camina más rápido! -> Walk faster!
  • Gabriel caminará la peregrinación a Santiago de Compostela. -> Gabriel will walk the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

However, in another type of scenario, the meaning of Caminar can be inferred according to the subject that the action is denoting in the sentence.

  1. People and animals walk.
  2. El perro camina en cuatro patas y la avestruz en dos. -> A dog walks on four legs and the ostrich on two.
  1. Armies march.
  2. Los soldados caminarán valientemente hacia el frente de la Guerra. -> The soldiers will bravely march towards the war’s front.
  1. Objects move.
  2. Las manecillas del reloj caminan haciendo un sonido “tic toc”. -> The hands of the clock tick making a “tick tock” sound.
  1. Projects develop.
  2. El proyecto de construcción de la autopista de Atlacomulco-Toluca va caminando muy bien. -> The construction project for the Atlacomulco-Toluca highway is going very well.
  1. Goals are met.
  2. Camina siempre hacia adelante para alcanzar tus metas. -> Always move forward to reach your goals.

Still not clear about the difference between Caminar and Andar? Why not take a free lesson with a native Spanish certified teacher at LiveLingua.com? You will get all your questions answered and the insights of a local!

A strong way to master present tense Spanish use and conjugation, when to use caminar vs andar and other confusing Spanish terms, is to sign up for our FREE Spanish Survival Crash Course. Every day for six days, we’ll send learning guides and audio courses to your inbox, totally FREE!

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