Use of preposition a with verbs ir, salir, venir

When we use the verbs ir, salir, and venir followed by the preposition a, we are expressing a purpose, the same way we use the preposition "para." For example:

Fui a su casa para hablar con él.I went to his house to talk to him.

Here, we could have used the preposition "a" with the same intention:

Fui a su casa a hablar con él.I went to his house to talk to him.

This is possible because the verb "ir" implies movement, the same way salir and venir do. Here are more examples:

Salimos a tomar un poco el aire.We went out to get a bit of fresh air.

Javier no está en casa. Ha salido a correr un rato.Javier is not home. He went out to run for a bit.

Vengo a hablar con el Señor Ramírez. Tengo una cita.I've come to speak with Mr. Ramírez. I have an appointment.

Tú solo has venido a empeorar la situación.You only came to worsen the situation.

Using "a" is not correct in this context if the verb is a static verb, not implying movement. For example:

Estoy aquí para verte.

(I am here to see you.)

no movement - it doesn't allow "a"

He venido para/a verte.

(I came to see you.)

movement - it allows "a"

It can also be followed by "a que" to form a subordinate clause, using the subjunctive:

He ido al médico a que me mirara la garganta.I've been to the doctor to have my throat looked at.

Sal fuera a que te dé un poco el aire.Go out so that you get some fresh air.

Vaya usted a la oficina a que le firmen ese documento.Go to the office to get that document signed (for you).

The sentences above also allow "para que" with the same meaning. Using "a" instead of "para" is more natural and slightly more colloquial.

See also verbs using the preposition a 

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Examples and resources

Salimos a tomar un poco el aire.We went out to get a bit of fresh air.
Vengo a hablar con el Señor Ramírez. Tengo una cita.I've come to speak with Mr. Ramírez. I have an appointment.
Javier no está en casa. Ha salido a correr un rato.Javier is not home. He went out to run for a bit.
Fui a su casa a hablar con él.I went to his house to talk to him.
Vaya usted a la oficina a que le firmen ese documento.Go to the office to get that document signed (for you).
Fui a su casa para hablar con él.I went to his house to talk to him.
He ido al médico a que me mirara la garganta.I've been to the doctor to have my throat looked at.
Sal fuera a que te dé un poco el aire.Go out so that you get some fresh air.
Tú solo has venido a empeorar la situación.You only came to worsen the situation.
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