Spanish phrases for tourists

Spanish beach  Spanish phrases for tourists
“Nerja .. Andalucia” flickr photo by Nick Kenrick.. shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

If you’re spending a few weeks in Spain for your holidays you probably don’t want to bother becoming a fluent Spanish speaker. However, a few key phrases can go a long way, especially if you’re not planning to spend your trip in an all-inclusive resort. Not only does it make getting what you want easier, a lot of people appreciate it when foreigners take the time to learn a few basic phrases so it can often make you friends.

  1. Introductions

Let’s start with the basics:

Good day Buen día

Hello, my name is… Hola, me llamo…

What’s your name? ¿Cómo te llamas? (informal) or ¿Cómo se llama? (formal)

How are you doing? ¿Cómo estás? (informal) or ¿Cómo está? (formal)

I’m well, thank you – Estoy bien, gracias.

Goodbye   Adiós

In most parts of the Spanish-speaking world, strangers should be addressed using the formal version to be polite. However, it’s worth noting that in Spain, Argentina and some parts of Uruguay you can use the informal right away. Actually, being honest, it seems the overall trend is going towards the more informal versions.

  1. Ordering Food

A table for two, please Una mesa por dos, por favor.

What is this? ¿Qué es esot?

I am a vegetarian Soy vegetariano(a)

When the waiter asks you what you would like to drink, or something along the lines of ¿Algo de beber? or ¿Qué van a tomar?

To drink, I’ll have a… Para beber quiero…

When the waiter asks you what you would like to eat, or something along the lines of ¿Qué desean ustedes?

I would like the… Me gustaría el/la/los/las…

Could you bring me some… Me trae un/una/unos/unas…

No, thank you.  No, gracias.

Yes, please. Sí, por favor.

To make changes to your order, use sin or con for without or with. And, of course, don’t forget to thank your waiters with muchas gracias, as you would in English.

  1. Asking for Directions

In case you ever find yourself without your phone in a chaotic city like Mexico City, Barcelona, or Buenos Aires, here are a few simple questions to help you figure out where you are and where you need to be going.

Where are we? ¿Dónde estamos?

What street is this? ¿Qué calle es esta?

Excuse me, where is…? Disculpe, ¿dónde está el/la/los/las…?

Where is the bus stop? ¿Dónde está la parada del autobús?

Is it near? ¿Está cerca?

Now for the answers:

Go straight. Sigue derecho.

Turn left Gire a la izquierda.

Turn right Gire a la derecha.

Take me to this address, please. Lléveme a esta dirección, por favor.

Stop here, please. – Deténgase aquí, por favor.

How much is the fare? à Cuánto es la tarifa?

Spanish speakers have a wide variety of dialects and accents. So, while you may find it difficult to understand the questions being put to you, if you answer using standard Spanish you will most likely still be understood. However, pay attention to your pronunciation and intonation as that can confuse a local with little to no experience listening to foreigners speak.

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