Unlocking the Secrets of ‘Volver’ in Spanish: Everything You Need to Know

As I was having a chat with one of my Spanish students, he casually brought up the verb “volver” in Spanish. 

Now, I’ve got to confess…

I hadn’t delved deep into this word before. 

It’s one of those things Spanish speakers use effortlessly, relying on context and instinct to get it right. 

We don’t ponder over verb choices.

We just blurt it out, and magically, the other person gets it!

But this got me thinking:

How do we do that?

What’s the secret that makes Volver in Spanish such a versatile and natural part of our language? 

Since I love unraveling language mysteries, I decided to dive into some research.

And guess what?

I uncovered some fascinating nuggets about “volver.”

In this blog post I’ll share all the research I did so that you can understand: 

  • The basic meaning of Volver.
  • How Volver changes its meaning according to context.
  • Some common expressions with the verb Volver.
  • The most common Conjugations Spanish native speakers use.

Learning to use “volver” the native speaker way, will make your Spanish conversations more spontaneous and fluent.

So, grab your virtual passport, amigos, because we’re about to take off towards “Volver land”.

Ready? Let’s do this! 🚀

The Basic Meaning Of Volver In Spanish

What’s the first thing you do when you want to know the meaning of a word in Spanish?

If you’re like me, you probably go to Google Translator to see what it means in your mother tongue.

For Volver in Spanish, the translator says this:

Volver = Return

But wait, hold your horses! 

If you’ve ever eavesdropped on a conversation between native speakers, you’ll quickly notice something intriguing:

They throw around “volver” left, right, and center, and it doesn’t always match up with the English “return.”

Take this sentence, for instance: 

  • Example: Volver a ver a mi mejor amigo de la infancia fue emocionante.
  • Translation: Seeing my childhood best friend again was exciting. 

Translate it literally, and you get: 

“Return to see my best friend from childhood was exciting.”

Huh, doesn’t quite add up, does it? 

And how about this one: 

  • Example: Vuelve a repetir lo que dijiste por favor.
  • Translation: Please repeat what you said. 

Translate it word by word, and you get: 

“Return to say what you said please.”

Strange, right? 

You see, the meaning of “volver” is like a chameleon.

It changes ‘colors’ based on the context of the situation or what was said before.

But let’s take a closer look at the context in which ‘volver’ morphs its meaning.

Context #1: To Return Or To Go Back

Arrows on pavement

In this context, it’s as straightforward as it sounds.

Now, the beauty lies in the various situations it can apply to. 

Let me walk you through a couple of examples:

  • Example: Después de perderse en la ciudad, Ana volvió a casa.
  • Translation: After getting lost in the city, Ana returned home.

In this scenario, Volver in Spanish is about physically going back to a place, in this case, home.

  • Example: ¿Puedes volver a la página anterior del libro?
  • Translation: Can you go back to the previous page of the book?

Here, “volver” means going back in a more abstract sense.

Like flipping back to a previous page in a book.

  • Example: Volveremos al parque donde jugábamos de niños.
  • Translation: We will return to the park where we used to play as kids.

In this instance, “volver” carries the nostalgic meaning of returning to a place from the past.

It emphasizes the sentimental aspect.

Easy, right amigos? 

Let’s go to the next context:

Context #2: To Do Something Again

This amazing verb doesn’t just mean going back.

It also implies doing something all over again! 

Let me show you:

  • Example: Vuelve a intentarlo, seguro que lo logras esta vez.
  • Translation: Try it again; I’m sure you’ll succeed this time.

In this context, Volver suggests giving it another shot, a chance to redo something with newfound determination.

  • Example: Me encantaría volver a ver esa película contigo.
  • Translation: I would love to watch that movie with you again.

Here, Volver brings a sense of anticipation, indicating the desire to relive an experience.

  • Example: No puedo esperar a volver a probar ese delicioso postre.
  • Translation: I can’t wait to taste that delicious dessert again.

In this case, “volver” conveys eagerness, emphasizing the excitement of repeating a pleasurable experience.

Let’s jump to the next context now:

Context 3: To Date Someone Again Or To Get Back Together Romantically Again

So, let’s dive into the matters of the heart now! 

In this context, “Volver” takes on a whole new level of significance when it comes to relationships. 

Here, we’re talking about rekindling romantic flames and giving love a second chance.

  • Example: Después de pasar un tiempo separados, Marta y Juan decidieron volver.
  • Translation: After spending some time apart, Marta and Juan decided to get back together.

Volver, in this context, embodies the hope and renewal of a romantic relationship, signifying a fresh re-start.

Here are two more examples:

  • Example: A veces, volver con alguien del pasado puede ser una experiencia enriquecedora.
  • Translation:  Sometimes, getting back together with someone from the past can be an enriching experience.
  • Example: Después de superar sus diferencias, decidieron volver a salir juntos.
  • Translation: After overcoming their differences, they decided to date each other again.

For this romantic context, Volver in Spanish implies a reconciliation, showing that love can bloom again even after challenges.

“Volver con alguien” is about giving love another shot, embracing the past while moving forward into the future. 

Love, after all, has a way of making even the word “volver” sound like a beautiful melody…

Or is that a mistake when dating? 🧐 

Let me know in the comments at the end.

Related: Is It True Love? 19 Expressions To Say I Love You In Spanish From The Bottom Of Your Heart

Context 4: To Experience A Transformation

Let’s talk about the reflexive version of Volver which is Volverse.

It might be used as “To Return”, like this:

  • Example: Él decidió volverse para su casa.
  • Translation: He decided to return to his home. 

However, depending on the context, we may use the reflexive Volverse as “To Turn”.

Like when we say that someone turned crazy or like someone turned into a depressive person. 

This way of using Volverse implies undergoing a profound internal transformation.

For instance:

  • Example: Después de enfrentar sus miedos, se volvió más valiente de lo que jamás imaginó.
  • Translation: After facing his fears, he turned braver than he ever imagined.
  • Example: Con el tiempo, ella se volvió más paciente y comprensiva con los demás.
  • Translation: Over time, she turned more patient and understanding towards others.
  • Example: Tras superar la pérdida, él se volvió más sabio y aprendió a valorar las pequeñas cosas de la vida.
  • Translation: After overcoming loss, he turned wiser and learned to cherish life’s little things.

In this context, “volverse” in its reflexive form captures a change within.

A transformation of personality or attitude.

Now, there’s a variation of the word Volver and its reflexive Volverse which I consider is worth talking about:

Devolver: To Give Something Back

“Devolver” is like the altruistic cousin of “Volver,” emphasizing the act of giving back, returning, or repaying. 

While “volver” is about personal or emotional returns, “devolver” is the essence of returning something tangible or intangible to its rightful place.

It’s basically about giving stuff back, no frills attached!

  • Example: Le presté mi raqueta de tenis a Manuela y ahora quiero que la devuelva.
  • Translation: I lent him my tennis racket, and now I want her to give it back.

In this situation, “devolver” is as simple as returning a borrowed item.

  • Example: Siempre devuelvo el dinero que me prestan lo más pronto posible.
  • Translation: I always give back the money I borrow as soon as I can.

Here, “devolver” is all about returning borrowed cash, no ifs, ands, or buts.

  • Example: Necesito devolver estos libros a la biblioteca antes del fin de semana.
  • Translation: I need to return these books to the library before the weekend.

So, “devolver” is just the straightforward act of giving stuff back – whether it’s a thing, a favor, or a debt. 

However, you might also see it a little differently in every day speaking: 

Devolverse: To Take Yourself Back To A Specific State Or A Specific Place

Sheep going back to flock

The reflexive form of Devolver, which is Devolverse, works as a “To Go Back Somewhere. 

It works as a rewind button on life.

It allows you to mentally or emotionally take yourself back to a specific state or place. 

No fancy words, just practical understanding:

  • Example: Después de la charla motivacional, ella se devolvió a un estado de confianza y determinación.
  • Translation: After the motivational talk, she took herself back to a state of confidence and determination.

Here, Devolverse means mentally returning to a state of mind.

Here’s another example:

  • Example: Cada vez que escucho esa canción, me devuelvo a mis años de colegio.
  • Translation: Every time I hear that song, I take myself back to my school years.

In this situation, “Devolverse” is about mentally traveling back in time, reliving memories associated with a specific period.

However, keep in mind that you might also use this word to indicate the physical action of returning to an already visited place.

Like in this example:

  • Example: Tengo que devolverme para la casa de mis padres
  • Translation: I have to go back to my parent’s house

The Meanings of Volver in a Nutshell 

We can say that volver in Spanish, which means “To Return” may morph its meaning according to the context like this: 


  1. To return. 
  2. Doing something again.
  3. Getting back together with someone romantically.
  4. To experience a Transformation.

Also, it’s super important that you don’t confuse Volver with Devolver.

They’re very similar, so keep the differences in mind:


  1. To Go back 
  2. Giving something back
  3. Turning yourself back into a former state or place.|

Copy and paste the notes above so that you can review de different contexts in which you might find these verbs.

Also, keep in mind that language is a creative tool for communication.

Likely, you’ll notice that, sometimes, native speakers might come up with Volver in unexpected contexts, so keep your eyes open! 

In fact, if you’ve heard this word in more contexts than the ones I’ve discussed in this post, don’t hesitate to share them with me in the comments at the end.

The Most Common Conjugations For The Verb “Volver” Or “Volverse”

All right, So now you know the meaning of volver in Spanish according to different contexts.

Now, it’s time to go over a topic that many students don’t enjoy at all: 


And I need to mention that I’m not a grammar expert at all.

But if you’re looking for resources to learn grammar, then make sure you check out my resources page:

Resources To Learn Spanish

In that page you’ll find powerful course recommendations so that you can improve your grammar use, like Grammar Hero By Olly Richards.

Anyway, going back to the Grammar of Volver. 

Today, I want to share with you the conjugations for this verb and its reflective form “volverse.”

Don’t worry; it’s not as complicated as it sounds! 

And remember that conjugation is just a fancy term for changing the verb to fit the person, tense, or mood of the sentence. 

So, grab your Spanish verb toolkit, and let’s break it down with a friendly touch.

Present Tense:

Yo vuelvo (I return)

Tú vuelves (You return – informal singular)

Él/Ella/Usted vuelve (He/She/You return – formal singular)

Nosotros/Nosotras volvemos (We return)

Vosotros/Vosotras volvéis (You all return – informal plural, Spain)

Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes vuelven (They/You all return)

In the present, these forms describe actions happening now, like “I return” or “You return.”

Past Tense:

Yo volví (I returned)

Tú volviste (You returned – informal singular)

Él/Ella/Usted volvió (He/She/You returned – formal singular)

Nosotros/Nosotras volvimos (We returned)

Vosotros/Vosotras volvisteis (You all returned – informal plural, Spain)

Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes volvieron (They/You all returned)

In the past, these forms describe actions that happened before the present moment, like “I returned” or “We returned.”

Future Tense:

Yo volveré (I will return)

Tú volverás (You will return – informal singular)

Él/Ella/Usted volverá (He/She/You will return – formal singular)

Nosotros/Nosotras volveremos (We will return)

Vosotros/Vosotras volveréis (You all will return – informal plural, Spain)

Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes volverán (They/You all will return)

In the future, these forms describe actions that will happen after the present moment, like “I will return” or “They will return.”

Reflexive Form (Volverse):

Yo me vuelvo (I turn/return to myself)

Tú te vuelves (You turn/return to yourself – informal singular)

Él/Ella/Usted se vuelve (He/She/You turn/return to yourself – formal singular)

Nosotros/Nosotras nos volvemos (We turn/return to ourselves)

Vosotros/Vosotras os volvéis (You all turn/return to yourselves – informal plural, Spain)

Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes se vuelven (They/You all turn/return to yourselves)

The reflexive form adds an extra layer, indicating actions that affect the person performing the action.

Like “I turn to myself” or “They turn to themselves.”

Imperative Mood:

(Tú) vuelve (Return – informal singular)

(Usted) vuelva (Return – formal singular)

(Nosotros/Nosotras) volvamos (Let’s return)

(Vosotros/Vosotras( volved (Return – informal plural, Spain)

(Ustedes) vuelvan (Return – formal plural)

The imperative mood is like giving commands. For example, “Return!” or “Let’s return!”

9 Common Idioms Using Volver In Spanish

girl sitting on dirt road holding a map

Great, so we’re just about to wrap up this post. 

And before we do it, I want to share with you some of the most common idioms that use Volver in Spanish.

The goal here is that you end this post with some actionable phrases that you can say right away: 

#1 ¡Vuelve La Burra Al Trigo!

Imagine a countryside scene…

A donkey grazing in a vast field of wheat. 

The phrase “¡Vuelve la burra al trigo!” literally means “The donkey returns to the wheat!”.

This idiom captures the idea of someone reverting to their old habits or falling back into a familiar situation, even if it’s not beneficial. 

It’s just like saying, “you did it again!”

When someone who promised change ends up repeating their mistakes, the exclamation echoes like a warning, emphasizing the predictability of their actions.

For instance: 

  • Example: ¡Vuelve la burra al trigo! Te dije que no llamaras a tu ex, sabía que volverías con él. 
  • Translation: You did it again! I told you not to call your ex, I knew you would get back with him.

#2 Me Volví Nada

Imagine a neat guy wearing super clean clothes. 

The essence of this idiom lies in taking a person like that and making his clothes dirty. 

You know, if he’s wearing those clean clothes, then the last thing he wants is to fall to the floor. 

Then he could yell:

  • Example: Me ensucié toda la ropa, ¡me volví nada!
  • Translation: I made my clothes dirty!

#3 Volvió A Las Andadas

Imagine a person taking deliberate steps backward, retracing their own path. 

“Volvió a las andadas” means “He/she went back to his/her old ways.” 

This idiom is often used to describe someone who has relapsed into undesirable behavior, like a reformed smoker picking up cigarettes again. 

It illustrates the frustration that comes with witnessing someone repeat their mistakes, despite efforts to change.

  • Example: Luis salió de rehabilitación y solo dos días después volvió a las andadas.
  • Translation: Luis got out of rehab, and then, only two days later he went back to his old ways.

#4 Volvió En Sí

Picture someone waking up after a fainting spell, blinking and trying to comprehend their surroundings. 

This expression signifies the moment of regaining consciousness, both literally and metaphorically. 

  • Example: Manuel estaba conduciendo su auto, de repente volvió en sí y se dio cuenta de que estaba soñando.
  • Translation: Manuel was driving his car, and suddenly, he woke up and realized that he was just dreaming.

#5 Volvió Como El Ave Fenix

Envision a mythical phoenix rising from its ashes, reborn and majestic. “Volvió como el ave Fénix” means “He/she came back like the phoenix.” 

This idiom embodies the idea of resurrection and revival. 

It describes a person or thing that, after being presumed lost or destroyed, emerges stronger, more vibrant, and triumphant.

  • Example: Ronaldo fue expulsado en el último partido, pero después volvió como el ave fénix, estaba mejor que nunca.
  • Translation: Ronaldo was expelled in the last game, but then he came back better than ever.

#6 Volví A Nacer

This phrase signifies a transformation or a second chance you get after surviving a life-threatening situation or overcoming a severe crisis. 

It communicates the feeling of being given a new chance in life, like if you were saying: “I felt a realise”.

  • Example: Pensé que mi hijo había muerto, pero volví a nacer cuando el doctor me dijo que estaba fuera de peligro.
  • Translation: I thought my son had died, but I felt a release when the doctor told me that he was out of danger.

#7 Volver Atrás

This expression means “To go back.” 

It embodies the idea of retracing one’s steps, returning to a previous point or situation.

 It’s used when someone regrets a choice they’ve made and wishes they could undo it. 

  • Example: Quisiera volver atrás y tomar una buena desición, quizás ahora tendría a mi esposa.
  • Translation: I would like to go back and make a good choice, perhaps now I would have my wife.

#8 Me Volvió El Alma Al Cuerpo

This idiom conveys a powerful sense of relief and reassurance after a period of intense fear, worry, or suspense. 

It’s the feeling you get when a dangerous situation passes without harm, and you can finally breathe again.

It’s pretty much the same as “volví a nacer” listed above. 

  • Example: Me volvió el alma al cuerpo cuando la policía dijo que había recuperado mi auto.
  • Translation: I felt such a relief when the cops said they had recovered my car.

#9 Se Volvió En Un Mar De Lágrimas

Visualize someone overwhelmed with sadness, tears streaming down their face uncontrollably. 

This expression vividly portrays extreme emotional distress, capturing the idea of someone drowning in their sorrow. 

  • Example: La niña se volvió en un mar de lágrimas cuando su helado cayó al suelo.
  • Translation: The little girl cried a lot when her icecream fell on the floor.

¡Vamos, Amigo! (Let’s Go, Friend!)

You did it! 

You’ve successfully navigated the twists and turns of the versatile verb Volver in Spanish and its reflective counterpart “volverse.”

Remember that using this verb might be just a matter of context.

And keep an eye open to see how native speakers use this word, and how they change its meaning according to context.

Also, try to review the key points of this blog post like: 

  • The contexts in which Spanish speakers use Volver or Devolver.
  • The Conjugations of these verbs.
  • And try to memorize the idioms that carry this particular word in Spanish.  

Keep practicing, keep experimenting, and most importantly, keep having fun with this beautiful language.

Now, armed with this newfound knowledge, go out there and conquer conversations! 

The world is waiting for your bilingual brilliance.

¡Vamos, amigo! You’ve got this! 

Diego Cuadros is a blogger and a Spanish online teacher. He uses stories to help Spanish lovers understand fast-speaking native speakers, so they don't freeze and panic in conversations.

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