Vaya, Valla and Baya: The Meanings and Uses of These Confusing Spanish Words

Are you wondering if you should use b or v?

Are you hungry, but you don’t know if that valla is edible?

Are you unclear as to whether you could jump over it or not?

If these are the types of questions that spin around in your head, it probably means you’re having trouble with the Spanish words vaya, valla and baya.

You’re definitely not alone on this matter!

But fret not! By the time you finish reading this post, these three words won’t give you any more trouble.


Why Are These Words so Problematic in the First Place?

There’s a very simple reason why these words are so problematic. They’re homonyms.

Homonyms are words that are spelled or pronounced similarly (often identically), which often makes language learners hesitate about which one they should use in a given scenario.

Let’s use the English words to, too and two as an introductory example. They’re different when it comes to spelling, but their pronunciation is the same. They’re homonyms, and more specifically homophones. These can be a bit of a headache for both English learners and native speakers.

Now, have a look at read (present tense) and read (past tense). They’re spelled identically, but their pronunciation is different. They’re also homonyms, but in this case, they’re homographs.

The problem with the words vaya valla and baya  is that in Spanish, there’s no longer a distinction in the sound between b from v and ll from y. So, without any context, it’s nearly impossible to know which one is being used.

The FluentU program is a good place to start learning these words (and many more). The program uses Spanish videos to teach the language, which are paired with accurate subtitled and other learning tools.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month)

  FluentU Ad

But first things first, what do these words mean?

Vaya, Valla and Baya in a Nutshell

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s have a look at the basic meanings of each of these words.


Vaya comes from the verb ir (to go). As you’ll see later, it actually refers to three different verb tenses, and it can also be an expression of surprise or emotion.


Valla is a noun, and it means a fence or a hurdle.


A baya is also a noun, and it means berry, so it’s the edible one of the group.

Let’s get a bit more into the details of these three words. 

Vaya: Translation and Uses

You’ll find the verb form vaya (to go) in the following three tenses.

1. As the first person singular of the present subjunctive of the verb ir

2. As the third person singular of the present subjunctive of the verb ir

3. As the third person singular of the imperative of the verb ir (both affirmative and negative)

Apart from this, vaya is also used as an expression of surprise or emotion. It can be used by itself, with a noun or with a noun followed by a verb.

You can also add tan  (so) and an adjective after vaya + noun if you want to be more specific.

As you may have guessed already, a vaya expression of surprise or emotion has the same meaning as the interjection ¡Qué…!

Valla: Translation and Meaning

As I mentioned earlier, valla is a noun and it means fence. But, there’s a little more to this cute, little word.

As a noun, it behaves just like any other feminine noun.

However, valla is also a form of the verb vallar (to fence, to fence off). In this case, it can be one of two different verb forms.

1. Third-person singular of the present indicative of the verb vallar

2. Second-person singular of the affirmative imperative (informal you) of the verb vallar

Baya: Translation

Baya is the only word of the group that is only a noun and has just means berry.

As such, it’s the easiest one of the three, and the only thing you should bear in mind is that it’s a feminine noun and it’s always written with b and y. 


So there you have it! Remember this and you won’t mix up these three similar sounding words again.

And One More Thing…

If you've made it this far that means you probably enjoy learning Spanish with engaging material and will then love FluentU.

Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.

FluentU has a wide variety of videos, as you can see here:


FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.


Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.


Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.


The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe