Using Cómo/dónde/quién/qué + ir a + infinitive to state the obvious/impossible

Instead of indicating an action in the future,

Ir a + infinitive

can be used to express "obviousness" when it is used with cómo, dónde, quién or qué, generally in an interrogative or an exclamatory sentence.

This construction is often used in colloquial Spanish when someone makes a comment and we reply to express that what was just said is evident, absurd or simply obvious.

Let's see some examples:

A person says:

Espero que Marta no haya perdido el tren.
I hope Marta didn't miss her train.

A reaction to this could be:

¿Cómo va a perder el tren, si ha llegado a la estación media hora antes?How could she miss the train, when she arrived at the station half an hour early?

A person says:

Me pregunto dónde estará Antonio.
I wonder where Antonio could be.

A reaction to this could be:

¿Dónde va a estar? Pues, en casa de su novia como siempre.Where is he going to be? Obviously at his girlfriend's house as usual.

A person says:

¿Qué te pasa? Pareces tan serio... 
What's wrong? You look so serious...

A reaction to this could be:

¡Qué iba a pasar! Nada, no pasa nada.Why should there be anything wrong? [Lit: What is going to happen?] There is nothing wrong at all.

A person says:

Nadie sabía lo del embarazo de Belén.
Nobody knew about Belén's pregnancy.

A reaction to this could be:

¡Quién lo iba a saber con lo bien que lo ha disimulado!Who could have known when she hid it so well!

Using  ir either in El Presente or El Pretérito Imperfecto (va a ..., iba a ...) is not related to whether the idea is something to do with the present, the past or the future. 

These structures are also sometimes used in a negative contstruction. For example, if someone makes these statement:

El colegio está apoyando mucho a los estudiantes con dificultades de aprendizaje.
The school is fully supporting students with learning difficulties.

Someone may react to this indicating that they are stating the obvious and say:

¡Cómo no iba a apoyarlos! Es su obligación.Of course they support them! It's their duty.

 

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Examples and resources

¡Cómo no iba a apoyarlos! Es su obligación.Of course they support them! It's their duty.
¡Quién lo iba a saber con lo bien que lo ha disimulado!Who could have known when she hid it so well!
¿Cómo va a perder el tren, si ha llegado a la estación media hora antes?How could she miss the train, when she arrived at the station half an hour early?
¿Dónde va a estar? Pues, en casa de su novia como siempre.Where is he going to be? Obviously at his girlfriend's house as usual.
¡Qué iba a pasar! Nada, no pasa nada.Why should there be anything wrong? [Lit: What is going to happen?] There is nothing wrong at all.
Getting that for you now.