Spanish phrases that will get you by

Visiting Spain? If you want to dash off into real local life and away from the tourist guide whose English just makes you feel distant from the Spanish environment, you should work on learning some common Spanish phrases.  That is actually quite beneficial- you get to be understood and you get more motivation to learn some more Spanish phrases that will most probably end up in great friendships and unique experiences. And do not be afraid of making mistakes, it is natural. Besides, Spanish people are known for their hospitality as they would do everything to understand you.

First of all, you need the greetings in Spanish:

  • Hi- Hola (ola)
  • Good morning- Buenos días (bwenos̮  ð̞jas)
  • Good afternoon- Buenas tardes (bwenas taɾð̞es)
  • Good evening- Buenas noches (bwenas noʧes)
  • How are you- Cómo está(s) (komo estas)
  • Good, thank you- Bien, gracias (bjen  ɣ̞ɾaθjas)
  • I am ___- Soy ___ (soi̯)
  • Nice to meet you- Mucho gusto (mu͡ʧo ɣ̞usto)
Advice to visit Spain
Banderitas de España “13092009-FiestasAranda2009-34”flickr photo shared by rahego under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Simple phrases in Spanish to learn

Once you greeted people, whatever situation you are engaged in, you should get to know some general simple vocabulary like confirmation, negation, gratitude and some simple questions.

  • Yes- Sí (si)
  • No- No (no)
  • Thank you – Gracias (gɾaθjas)
  • You’re welcome- De nada (de nað̞a)
  • Please- Por favor (poɾ faβ̞oɾ)
  • Excuse me- Con permiso (kom peɾmiso)
  • I’m sorry- Lo siento (lo sjen̪to)
  • Can you help me? –  ¿Me podría ayudar? (me poð̞ɾiaʝuð̞ar)
  • What is your name? –  ¿Cómo se llama? (komo se ʝama)
  • Do you speak English? –  ¿Habla Inglés? (aβ̞la i̯nˠ gles)
  • How much is it? –  ¿Cuanto cuesta? (kwanto kwesta)
  • What time is it? –  ¿Qué hora es? (ke oɾa es)

Being a tourist, basically the most common verbs you might need are the verb to be (see this post), need (necesitar) and want (querer- I want water– Quiero agua). All you need to do is use them with different nouns, for which you would need a dictionary or maybe some sign language skills.

Probably the most useful vocabulary you need is giving or understanding directions in SpanishGetting by, going to the post office, the supermarket, the public toilet or to your hotel- getting there is what matters. Not understanding directions in a situation where you can’t find a local that speaks English can be quite frustrating and can take a lot of your energy as well as money for a taxi to get you there. Directions are also the easiest to remember, as you keep using them constantly on daily basis.

Directions in Spanish

  • Straight- Recto
  • Right- Derecha (deɾe͡ʧa)
  • Left- Izquierda (iθkjeɾð̞a)
  • East- Este (este)
  • West- Oeste (oeste)
  • North- Norte (norte)
  • South- Sur (sur)

If you get lost and would like to return or get somewhere else, “Where is the” is the easiest way of asking.

  • Where is the bus train station (or bus station) – ¿Dónde está la estación de tren? (don̪de esta la estaθjon̪ de tɾen/ bus)
  • Where is the restaurant? – ¿Dónde está el restaurante?  (don̪de esta el restau̯ɾan̪te)?
  • …..The street … ? – ¿… calle … ? (la kaʝe)?
  • ….the bank…? – ¿….el banco….? (ũm banˠko)?
  • Where is the bathroom? – ¿Dónde está el baño? – (don̪de esta el β̞aɲo)?

Of course, this list may take a whole book and still be called “Common Spanish phrases that will get you by”. People are using different kind of vocabulary depending on the various situations they are part of every day, and making a set phrasebook would be a wonder. Still, having this simple list will surely make your stay easier and more fun.

If you want to practice your Spanish conversation contact me!

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