How to use “Vaya” in Spanish

The most popular “Vaya” expressions are:

¡Vaya! Oh dear! / Oh my God! / Fancy that!
Vaya, vaya, vaya. Well, well, well.
¡Que te vaya bien! Hope it goes well (used when parting)
¡Vaya con Díos! Good-bye (an old-fashioned way of saying good-bye. Literally “Go with God.”)

For emphasis

To emphasise a characteristic as in English we would say “What a …!” or “Something/someone is such a …!”. It can have a positive or negative meaning often depending on the tone it is used in or on the hand gesture.
¡Vaya historia! What a story!
¡Vaya calor hace! It’s really hot!
¡Vaya pregunta! What kind of a question is that?!

To describe a bad experience

¡Vaya día! What a day!
¡Vaya mañana! What a morning!
¡Vaya lío! What a mess!

To describe a person

¡Vaya niña más simpática! What a nice girl!
¡Vaya amigo! What a friend!
¡Vaya pelmazo! What a pain he is!
¡Vaya tío/tía! What a guy/woman!

To describe an object or a place

¡Vaya coche! What a car!
¡Vaya casa! What a house!
¡Vaya vestido más chulo! What a cute dress!
¡Vaya playa más bonita! What a pretty beach!

¡Vaya tela! (An expression of surprise) “Wow!” / “Look at that!”
¡Vaya tela marinera! (Lengthened for emphasis to exaggerate the meaning.)

Use with the subjunctive to express doubt, uncertainty, hoping

Dudo que vaya en diciembre. I doubt that he/she goes in December.
Es probable que vaya pronto. It’s likely that he/she goes soon.
Espero que vayan mañana. I hope that they go tomorrow.

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