Spanish Verbs: How To Say “Was/Were Going To”

In this lesson I’m going to show you a very easy way to express “I was going to”.  For example…

I was going to go
He was going to explain
We were going to see it
They were going to notice

Grammatically this is called the Imperfect Tense, but I much prefer to just think of it as ‘was going to’. It’s a very useful tense to have in your spoken Spanish but best of all I’m going to show you how you can apply it to any verb by learning just one simple formula.

In order to express any verb in this way you only need to learn one simple formula…

  1. I was going to – iba a
  2. You were going to – ibas a
  3. He/She/It was going to – iba a
  4. We were going to – íbamos a
  5. They were going to – iban a

Even though you can see in the written language that there is a separate ‘a’ after each one, in speaking you’ll often hear it all  joined together so that it sounds like one word. This is how it works in the real world of everyday spoken Spanish.

Once you have learned the 5 handles (really just 4 because the 1st person (I )and the 3rd person (He/She/It) are exactly the same!) you’ll have all you need to express “something you were going to do” with any verb you like.

Here’s Exactly How This Works

Let’s say you wanted to express something like “I was going to go”.

Well we already know that “I was going to” is simply “iba a” in Spanish. Now all you have to do is add on the full verb after it.

I was going to go = iba a ir

Breaking it down we already know that “iba a” means “I was going to” & “Ir” is the verb for “to go” so putting them together you get “iba a ir”.

Another example would be…

He was going to explain = iba a explicar

Here we have an example of how Spanish uses the exact same handle (iba a) for “I was going to” but also “he/she/it” was going to. This may appear a little confusing at first since it raises the obvious question of “Well how does anyone know which person is being referred to in the spoken language, I, he, she or it?”. The answer is that it’s often obvious from the  context of the conversation being conducted. If you were having a conversation about your sister and you said “iba a explicar” then it would be clear to everyone that you meant “she was going to explain” since that’s who you were talking about anyway. In instances where it might not be clear there’s a simple way to make it clear in Spanish which I’ll show you in another lesson.

Let’s continue with two more examples…

We were going to see it = íbamos a verlo
They were going to notice = iban a notar

Taking all four examples given so far can you see how they all basically conform to the same simple formula?

1. You take the handle (iba a, ibas a, iba a, íbamos a, iban a)
2. You add on any verb

It’s also very easy to hook pronouns onto the end of the verbs. For example, if you wanted to say “I was going to tell you” it would be

Iba a decirte

Here we simply took the verb “decir” which means to say or tell and hooked “te” meaning “you” onto the end of the verb (decir + te)

If you’re not yet sure about pronouns (you, me, he, she, it, they and so on) then you can learn all about them here Spanish pronouns.