In short – ‘a ver’ and ‘vamos a ver’ are very common phrases in Mexican Spanish. They are used to request to see something (like ‘let me see‘), to emphasize that you want to look at something more carefully (like ‘hold on’ or ‘let’s have a (closer) look’), and to say that something might be possible (like ‘we’ll see‘).
It’s important to understand ‘a ver’ and ‘vamos a ver’ as they may express reticence or disbelief (and you want to catch those nuances!).
Uses / meanings of ‘a ver’ and ‘vamos a ver’ in Spanish
‘A ver’ and ‘vamos a ver’ can be used in the following ways –
- As a synonym of ‘let me see’ or ‘let me have a look’
- To express reticence / doubt
- As a synonym of ‘we’ll see’
- To show surprise or disbelief
As a synonym of ‘let me see’ or ‘let me have a look’
Here ‘a ver’ is very interesting in terms of grammar because the preposition ‘a’ denotes an imperative (an imperative = an order).
For example, you may tell your guests that dinner is ready and served by saying ‘¡A comer!’ and are thus asking them to come and sit down in a friendly manner.
So, when you say ‘a ver’ you are requesting to see something. ‘Vamos a ver’ also works as an imperative and can be translated to ‘let´s have a look’.
Ricardo – Me acabo de comprar unos tenis naranjas.
Renata – ¡A ver!
Ricardo – I’ve just bought a pair of orange trainers.
Renata – Let me see them!
Nadia – ¡Ya terminé de pintar la terraza!
Juan – ¡Vamos a verla!
Nadia – I’ve finished painting the terrace!
Juan – Let´s have a look!
To express reticence / doubt
We can also use ‘a ver’ and ‘vamos a ver’ to show reticence and to request that someone explain something in more detail.
In this context, we obviously won´t be using the same enthusiastic tone as in the examples above!
Ricardo – Voy a ponerme mis tenis naranjas para la entrevista.
Renata – A ver, ¿estás seguro? ¿No tienes algo más formal?
Ricardo – I’m going to wear my orange trainers to the interview.
Renata – Let’s have a look! Are you sure? Haven’t you got anything more formal?
Nadia – ¡Ahora podemos invitar a todos nuestros amigos y celebrar el cumpleaños de Ana en la terraza!
Juan – ¡Vamos a ver! Quizás deberíamos preguntarle a Ana si quiere una fiesta.
Nadia – Now we can invite all our friends and celebrate Ana’s birthday on the terrace!
Juan – Hold on! We should probably ask Ana if she wants to have a party.
As a synonym of ‘we’ll see’
We also use these phrases to say that something might be possible or that we´ll have to wait to see how something develops, similar to the expression ‘we’ll see’ in English.
In this context, both ‘a ver’ and ‘vamos a ver’ can express either enthusiasm or disbelief, depending on the tone used.
Ricardo – A los directores les van a encantar mis tenis naranjas y van a ver que soy original y único.
Renata – Vamos a ver.
Ricardo – The managers will love my orange trainers and they’ll see how original and unique I am.
Renata – We’ll see.
Nadia – Yo creo que a Ana le va a encantar su fiesta sorpresa.
Juan – A ver.
Nadia – I think Ana will love her surprise party.
Juan – We’ll see.
To show surprise or disbelief
Finally, we can use both ‘a ver‘ and ‘vamos a ver‘ to show enthusiastic surprise or disbelief.
It’s like when you ask someone to demonstrate that what they’re saying is true with the implication being that you won´t believe them until you´ve seen it with your own eyes.
Ricardo – Me súper encantó este* taco. Podría comerme doce.
Renata – ¡Vamos a ver! Cómetelos.
Ricardo – I absolutely loved this taco. I could eat twelve of them.
Renata – Go on then! Show me!
Nadia – Ya preparé una cena para todos nuestros invitados.
Juan – ¿En serio? ¡A ver!
Nadia – I’ve already made dinner for all our guests.
Juan – Really? Show me!
*Erika’s top tip – remember that we use ‘este‘ with masculine nouns; DON’T get it muddled up with ‘esto‘, which is used when you don’t know what the object in question is.
Make sure to check out our article on ‘este‘ vs ‘esto‘ if you wanna know more!
‘A ver, a ver’ meaning
If you say ‘A ver, a ver’ authoritatively it’s a bit like saying ‘hold your horses’ –
Nadia – También voy a gastar todos los fondos de la casa en alcohol.
Juan – A ver, a ver, ¡espérate!
Nadia – I´m also going to spend the contents of the house kitty on alcohol!
Juan – Hold on, wait!
It can also be used when you want to have a really good look at something –
Ricardo – ¡Ya compré los nuevos tenis de los que te estaba hablando!
Renata – ¡A ver, a ver!
Ricardo – I´ve already bought the new trainers that I was talking about!
Renata – Let´s see, let´s see!
Pronunciation & spelling of ‘a ver’ / ‘vamos a ver’
Pronunciation shouldn´t be a problem here.
‘A ver’ is said like – / ah behr /
‘Vamos a ver’ is said like – / bah-mohs ah behr /
The spelling, however, is a little trickier because ‘a ver’ sounds exactly the same as the verb ‘haber’ and the two are often confused (even by native speakers)!
Just remember that ‘a ver’ is about seeing, so you always need the verb ‘ver’ in there.
What does ‘aver’ mean in Spanish?
This is another common misspelling of ‘a ver’.
‘Aver’ with no space between ‘a’ and ‘ver’ doesn´t exist in the Spanish language (a quick foray into any Spanish dictionary will confirm this). Just be mindful of that wee little space and you´ll be gold.
‘A ver’ and ‘vamos a ver’ are two extremely useful phrases that you can whip out whenever your friends boast about their latest gadget or something cool that they´ve learnt.
With your newly-learnt phrases up your sleeve, you can also show interest or skepticism, stop your friends from doing something foolish, and even challenge them to do whatever it is that they claim to be able to do (I’m not calling your friends braggarts, I promise)!
Oh, and make sure to check out our article on how to respond to ‘¿cómo te llamas?‘ if you’d like to up your Spanish vocab game even more!