In short – ‘¿Dónde andas?’ is a colloquial way of saying ‘Where are you?’ in Spanish, but it does have quite a few other meanings, so context is SUPER important here!
If you’ve been studying Spanish for a while, you probably already know all about ‘dónde estás’ – the “standard” way of saying ‘where are you’. And, well, it’s often synonymous with ‘dónde andas’, but not always …
The verb ‘andar’ literally means ‘to walk’, but when used colloquially ‘andar’ implies location – mostly physical – but it can actually refer to your mental / emotional state too!
Anyway, let’s explore all the different uses of ‘dónde andas’ in Spanish!
Uses / Meanings of ‘dónde andas’
‘Dónde andas’ can be used in the following ways –
- In a literal sense, as a synonym of ‘where you walk’
- As a synonym of ‘where are you?’
- As a way of asking ‘how long will you take?’ / ‘how far away are you’?
- To note that the person you’re talking to looks distracted
- As a synonym of ‘where do you hang out?’
In a literal sense, as a synonym of ‘where you walk’
Before we get into the colloquialisms, ‘dónde andas’ can obviously be used in a literal sense!
As I already mentioned, ‘andar’ generally translates as ‘to walk’, so ‘dónde andas’ literally means ‘where you walk’.
Siempre cuida por dónde andas de noche.
Always watch where you walk at night.
Una madre a su hijo pequeño
Mamá – Fíjate por dónde andas; no juegues en la banqueta.
A mother to her toddler
Mom – Watch your step; don’t play on the sidewalk.
As a synonym of ‘where are you?’
Colloquially, when someone asks ‘¿dónde andas?’, they’re NOT assuming that you’re strolling merrily down the sidewalk; they’re just interested in your WHEREABOUTS.
It’s another way of asking, ‘where are you?’!
Phillipa – ¿Por qué no fuiste a la fiesta de Mariano?
Melisa – ¡Sí fui! ¿Dónde andabas? Nunca te ví.
Phillipa – Why didn’t you go to Mariano’s party?
Melisa – I did! Where were you? I never saw you.
En un mensaje de texto
Jimena – Hola, mi amor*, ¿dónde andas?
Lauro – En un bar con unos compas, ¿y tú? ¿Quieres acompañarnos?
In a text message
Jimena – Hey, sweetie*, where are you?
Lauro – At a bar with some pals, and you? Wanna join us?
*Erika’s note – ‘mi amor’ is an extremely common term of endearment in Spanish, akin to ‘sweetheart’ in English.
As a way of asking ‘how long will you take?’ / ‘how far are you’?
You’ll likely hear this nuance quite a bit here in Mexico!
‘Dónde andas’ can be used to imply that someone is late OR to ask how long it’s gonna take someone to arrive (and sometimes even both at once!).
So, the next time someone screeches a ‘¿Dónde andas?’ down the phone at you, it might be best to avoid a simple ‘estoy en en taxi’ and actually elaborate a little as to your ETA, etc.
In truth, intonation is key here as you’re still technically inquiring as to someone’s whereabouts.
En una llamada telefónica
Fran – ¿¡Dónde andas!?
Daniela – Ya estoy a cinco minutos.
Fran – ¡Se va a enfriar la comida!
During a phone call
Frank – Where are you!?
Daniela – I’m five minutes away.
Fran – The food is getting cold!
To note that the person you’re talking to looks distracted
Feel free to blurt out a frustrated ‘dónde andas’ if your interlocutor has his/her head in the clouds.
You could also use ‘dónde estás’ in this context, but ‘dónde andas’ feels a little more resolute!
Azucena – …y entonces, llegamos al concierto muy tarde. Oye, ¿dónde andas?
Paulina – Discúlpame, estoy preocupada con los recortes que están haciendo en la empresa donde trabajo.
Azucena – … and then we got to the concert super late. Hey, are you listening?
Paulina – I’m sorry, I’m worried about the cuts that are being made at my company.
As a synonym of ‘where do you hang out?’
‘Andar’ is also used as a synonym of ‘to hang out’ or ‘to visit’, so if you wanna ask your friends where they hung out on the weekend, ‘dónde anduviste’ (the 2nd person singular of ‘andar’ in the preterite tense) is a good, colloquial way to do so!
Usualmente, ¿dónde andas los viernes por la noche?
Where do you usually spend your Friday nights?
Adriano – ¿Dónde anduviste el fin de semana?
Regina – Fui a un restaurante muy lindo en Coyoacán.
Adriano – Where did you hang out on the weekend?
Regina – I went to a very nice restaurant in Coyoacán.
‘Dónde andas‘ pronunciation
‘Dónde andas’ is obviously composed of two words, each with two syllables –
- ‘Dón’ sounds like ‘dohn’ (that accent on the ‘o’ means that the first syllable is stressed!), and ‘de’ is said like ‘deh’.
- ‘An’ is said like ‘ahn’, and ‘das’ sounds like ‘dahs’
/ dohn-deh ahn-dahs /
Similar words / expressions to ‘dónde andas’
‘Metido’ means ‘involved’ in English, so this expression literally translates as ‘to be involved’…and it usually has a negative connotation (uh-oh!) –
Escuché que Antonio anda metido en un negocio turbio.
I heard that Antonio is involved in some shady business.
Andar en malos pasos
This one means ‘to be headed down the wrong path’ –
Me preocupa que mi hermano ande en malos pasos.
I’m worried that my brother is headed down the wrong path.
‘Andar raro’ literally translates as ‘to walk funny’ in English, but colloquially it means ‘to act weird’ –
¿Por qué andas tan raro?
Why are you acting so weird?
Hopefully you’re now ready to use ‘dónde andas’ like a true native!
Learning a new language is all about understanding how people actually talk in their everyday lives, so you’re definitely headed in the right direction!
Oh, and if you wanna further level up your Spanish conversation skills, then don’t miss our article on ALL the ways to reply to ‘buenas noches’ (it’s not as simple as it sounds!).