If you’ve been listening to reggaeton lately – or any Pitbull song ever – you’ve almost certainly heard the phrase ‘ya tú sabes’.
And you probably also wondered what exactly it means …
In short – ‘ya tú sabes’ literally means ‘you already know’, and it’s a very common expression in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. It can be used as an affirmation or as a question (even if an answer isn´t really expected).
The phrase ‘ya tú sabes’ is comprised of three words:
‘Ya’ = This is an interesting (albeit ambiguous) word that has lots of different uses. But fret not, for the purposes of this article we’ll just stick to one meaning: ‘already’.
‘Tú’ = ‘You’ (not to be confused with ‘tu’ or ‘te’!)
‘Sabes’ = ‘(You) know’
It seems like a pretty ordinary phrase, right?
Or is it …
Uses / Meanings of ‘ya tú sabes’ in Spanish
‘Ya tú sabes’ can be used in the following ways –
- As a synonym of ‘as you already know’
- As a synonym of ‘you know?’ or ‘ya’ know?’
- As a confirmation / way of expressing agreement
As a synonym of ‘as you already know’
The Royal Academy of the Spanish Language has examples of this use of ‘ya tú sabes’ in letters that date back to 1988, so this is probably the oldest meaning of the phrase (I´m pretty sure that Pitbull dude was still a kid in the 1980s!).
It’s simply a form of acknowledging that the person you´re speaking to has prior knowledge of the matter at hand, whether it be a specific piece of information or just a notion so commonplace that it’s assumed everyone is aware of it (even if they’re not!).
Katia – ¿Qué le pasa a mi tía Hortensia? Cubrió todos los espejos de la casa …
Camilo – Es muy supersticiosa, como ya tú sabes.
Katia – What’s up with my aunt Hortensia? She covered all the mirrors in the house …
Camilo – She’s very superstitious, as you already know.
As a synonym of ‘you know?’ (‘ya’ know?’)
When in the form of a question, ‘¿ya tú sabes?’ is used in a similar way to ‘ya´ know´.
This use is particularly common in Caribbean countries, and you may hear a similar expression, ‘¿sabes?’, in countries like Mexico and the rest of Latin America.
Me gusta conocer personas de espíritu libre; de esas que tienen la sangre ligera, ¿ya tú sabes?
I like meeting free-spirited people; those with a light heart, ya’ know?
As a confirmation / way of expressing agreement
‘¡Ya tú sabes!’ can also be used to confirm a statement or to agree with someone; it often suggests complicity.
In this sense it translates to something like ´you know it!’
Bernardo – Adri sospechaba sobre su fiesta de cumpleaños, pero alguien la convenció de que todos tendremos planes ese día, ¿fuiste tú?
Raúl – ¡Ya tú sabes!
Bernardo – Adri was beginning to suspect that we might throw her a birthday party, but someone convinced her that we all have plans that day, was it you?
Raul – You know it!
‘Ya tú sabes, mami‘ meaning
We can best translate this phrase to ‘you know it, baby!’ and it’s basically a flirtatious remark popularized by reggaeton music.
‘Mami’ is short for ‘mother’ (like ‘mommy’ in English) and it’s an ambivalent word that can either be used as an endearing term for you mom, or as part of a pick-up line (albeit not always a welcome one).
If you want to know more about the expression ‘mami’ and its variations, I recommend you head on over to our article on ‘mamacita’ in which we explore all there is to know about this popular term!
‘Dímelo mami’, canción de Voltio ft. Daddy Yankee
Mami, vamos a vivirnos el momento
Ya tú sabes, nos fuimos en el viaje
‘Dímelo mami’, a song by Voltio ft. Daddy Yankee
Baby, let’s live in the moment
You know it, we went away on the trip
´Ya tú sabes´ pronunciation
To pronounce this phrase like a true native just say ‘ya’ like ‘yah’ (think the posh version of ‘yes’), followed by ‘tú’ (which is said like the English word ‘too’).
Finally, divide the word ‘sabes’ into two syllables: ‘sah’ + ‘behs’.
/ yah too sah-behs /
‘Ya tú sabes‘ response
1. ‘Ya tú sabes’ (to affirm or confirm something)
A common response to ‘ya tú sabes’ is actually a simple ‘ya tú sabes’ in return!
This might seem redundant, but it works!
Mariano – Me gustan los brownies, pero los espaciales, ¿ya tú sabes?
Toño – ¡Ya tú sabes!
Mariano – I like brownies, but space ones, ya’ know?
Toño – You know it!
2. ‘No, no sé’ – ‘No, I don’t’
On the off chance that you don’t actually know what someone´s talking about or you just don’t agree, you can answer with a blunt, ‘no, no sé’, which means ‘no, I don’t’.
Pamela – Los hombres de barba son los más guapos, ¿ya tú sabes?
Juanita – No, no sé.
Pamela – Bearded men are the most handsome, ya’ know?
Juanita – No, I don’t.
So, now you know! Or better yet, ‘ya tú sabes’, everything about this popular expression.
Maybe next time you’re in cahoots with a close friend, instead of winking back at them you could throw an unerring ‘ya tú sabes’ their way.
And don’t forget to check out our article on ‘la vida loca‘ if you wanna learn all about another Spanish phrase popularized by music!
¡Hasta la próxima!