Meet the 'Venir' Family

Prefixes Expand Meaning of Common Verb

Talca, Chile, for a lesson on verbs related to venir
Provengo de la ciudad de Talca en Chile. (I come from the city of Talca in Chile.). RL GNZLZ/Creative Commons.

Usually meaning "to come," venir is one of the most common verbs in Spanish. Like many other verbs, venir can be combined with prefixes to expand its meaning.

As you can see from the examples below, many of the words formed by combining venir with a prefix are related to English words that end in "-vene." That's because they come from the Latin verb venire, which is also the source of venir.

Following are the most common verbs formed using the venir root along with examples of their use. All are conjugated in the same irregular way as venir.


Avenir typically means to reconcile or to come to an agreement. Nos avenimos a firmar la Carta de la Paz, un documento que debemos fortalecer. (We came together to sign the Peace Letter, a document we ought to strengthen.)


Meanings of contravenir include to violate, to infringe and to contravene. Este tipo de medidas contravenerían el principio de libre circulación. (This kind of step violated the principle of free circulation.)


Although convenir can sometimes refer to convening, it more often refers to being suitable or agreeing. Los representantes convinieron en que debían esperar hasta recibir mas información. (The representatives agreed that they ought to wait until they receive more information.)


Devenir is not related to the English verb "divine" but instead usually means to become or to happen. Cuando la mente deviene quiescente, el soplo deviene controlado. (When the mind quiets down, breathing becomes controlled.)


Intervenir can refer to intervening, but it can also have a weaker meaning that refers just to participating in something. El Banco Central intervino cuando el tipo de cambio tocó $2,98. (The Central Bank intervened when the exchange rate reached $2.98.) Los varones intervienen menos que las mujeres en el cuidado de los hijos. (The men participate less in the care of children than the women do.)


While prevenir often refers to preventing something, it can also refer to merely warning or even just expecting. El gobierno no previno el desastre de Nueva Orleans. (The government did not anticipate the New Orleans disaster.)


Provenir typically means to come from somewhere. Provengo de la ciudad de Talca en Chile. (I come from the city of Talca in Chile.)


Sobrevenir frequently refers to something coming or happening suddenly, although it can also refer to something that happens subsequent to something else. En la madrugada sobrevino el terremoto. (The earthquake came suddenly in the dawn.)