Tag Archives: spanish conversation

Spanish expressions with food

Spanish cuisine is one of the best in the world, and I am not saying this because I am from Spain. If you are not convinced it is so, it is probably because you have not tried it yet. As food plays a major role in our day to day lives, I have decided to teach you some expressions with food. Prepare yourself with some snacks, because things are about to get tasty.

  1. Vete a freír espárragos

If you want to tell somebody to leave you alone, a great way to ask him is to send him to fry asparagus, literally. I am not really sure where this expression originated from, but I guess that the first person to use it was not a great fan of asparagus either.  So remember, if your friend is showcasing one again his lack of karaoke talent, just send him to cook a bit of asparagus. He will never know where that even came from.

  1. No todo el monte es orégano

This expression is like a reality check. It literally translates into not every hill is oregano. For this one, I happen to know the background. People used to go up the hills to collect herbs. Not all of the plants that grow are good to eat. Some of them are weeds or even poisonous plants. This is a caution. Sometimes things might not turn out how you want them to be. This is an expression designed to say this exact thing.

  1. Esto es pan comido

You know how in English, we have the expression “it is a piece of cake”. In Spanish, the equivalent is “this is eaten bread”. For those of you who do not know the expression, it means that it is very easy. So, I guess that next time when you have an exam, you could happily say that “esto es pan comido”.

  1. Ser quien corta el bacalao

It is time to add a fishy expression to our list. “Ser quien corta el bacalao” literally means, to be the one that cuts the cod. It basically means that you are the boss, the person in charge. How did we get to this expression? It is quite simple. In the 16th century, the foreman was the person in charge with cutting of the salt cod, along with dividing it along the workers, and sometimes even the slaves. So, in your family, are you the one cutting the cod?

As you can see, there are many expressions related to food. You can also check out my article about expressions with fruits. This way, your vocabulary will definitely improve. As soon as you know it, you will be using expressions better than a Spanish native. Always keep in mind, that in order to truly master a new language, you need to learn, and understand their expressions.

I hope that I did not make you too hungry. Keep on snacking, and keep on learning some food for the mind.

Spanish fruit idioms

Today, I have decided to share with you some Spanish fruit idioms, because why not make your Spanish vocabulary more fruitful?

I guess that the perfect way to start learning some expressions about fruits is if you are also eating some. In this case, I advise you to grab a plate of fruits, and let´s start learning.

  1. De uvas a peras – once in a blue moon

This expression literally translates into ¨from grapes to pears¨. I guess that now, you are probably a bit confused of how we got to this meaning. This expression is actually related to agriculture. Grapes (las uvas) are usually harvested in September, meanwhile pears (las peras) are harvested in August. This would be the shortened version of the expression. The longer one would be something like ¨from harvesting grapes to the harvest of pears¨. I guess that it makes more sense now.

  1. Media naranja – other half (soulmate)

This expression comes from a legend, according to which people used to be round. However, they were punished and split into half, doomed to search for their other half for the rest of their lives. A variation of this expression is ¨medio limón¨( half of a lemon). It means exactly the same thing. It now only depends on your choice of fruit when describing your soulmate.

  1. Nos van a dar las uvas

As you can see, for some reason, Spaniards have something with grapes. This second grape-related expression has something to do with New Years´. When the clock strikes midnight, the tradition says that, twelve seconds before, you have to swallow 12 grapes, one for each month of the year. The expression, ¨they are going to give us the grapes¨, is used to tell somebody to hurry up, as eating the grapes is the very last thing one does at the end of a year.

  1. La manzana de la discordia – the apple of discord

This expression, the same as in English, basically means the root of an argument. It has many legends revolving it, such as the Trojan war, but I am not going to get into history today.

As you can see, there are many expressions in Spanish regarding fruits. These are just some of the most common ones. I guess that each expression gets you one step closer to becoming a native, if you are not one already.

If you know more fruit expressions, feel free to write them down in a comment or contact me. Maybe we can even do a part 2 with fruit expressions, but this only depends on you guys. Meanwhile, I suggest that you try to learn more Spanish fruit names, and while doing so, you can even look up some expressions with them. Maybe you can even teach me some of them.

If you like this post, you may enjoy this one about Love Phrases in Spanish.

Spanish vocabulary for the cold season

Winter is here and whether you are anxiously waiting for Santa Claus or for the Three Kings (los Reyes Magos) to bring you gifts, you should learn some Spanish words suitable for winter. Regardless of whether you want to learn how to build a snowman in Spanish, learn some words for winter clothing that will help you if you are shopping, or simply say Merry Christmas! in Spanish, this article will help you.

Let’s start with the first sign of winter, which, of course is the weather. So, when we think of the cold season, we think of winter (= el invierno), and then we think about the cold (=el frío). If we are lucky enough, we are greeted with snow (= la nieve). This makes us scream: it’s snowing (= está nevando; nevar). We all know that when it is snowing we want to make a snowman (= el muñeco de nieve), and in order to do so, we need snowflakes (= los copos de nieve). If we are lucky enough, we get some days off due to a snowstorm (= la tormenta de nieve).

In order to go out and enjoy the snow, we need to dress up with warm clothes, or wrap ourselves up in warm clothing (= abrigarse). The first thing that we put on is our coat (=el abrigo) or our jacket (= la chaqueta). Then, we go on and put on some gloves (= los guantes), which we will use to make a snowman. Then, we want to make sure that we won’t get sick so we add a scarf (= la bufanda) and then, we also put on a hat (= la gorra). We also need some shoes suitable for the snow, such as boots (= las botas). We are ready to go out and enjoy some winter activities.

There are many things that you can do outside. Among the most common activities are skiing (= esquiar), ice skating (= patinar sobre hielo), and of course, this list would not be complete without sledding (=andar sobre el trineo). Since we are talking about sleds, let’s also mention Santa’s reindeer (= el reno), which is pulling the sled.

Since we just mentioned Santa Claus (= Papá Noel), I guess we should get ready by learning some Christmas carols (=los villancicos). Oh, and we should also, get the Christmas tree (= el abeto / el árbol de Navidad) ready for the holidays. I almost forgot, since we are talking about Christmas (= la Navidad), we should also learn how to wish people a Merry Christmas! (= ¡Feliz Navidad!).

Well, I guess that you are set for the cold season with the vocabulary. All that you need to do now, is to relax, and while you are waiting for Papá Noel or los Reyes Magos to give you a visit, you should learn a bit about Spanish Christmas traditions.

 

Spanish animal expressions to use in your Spanish phrases

Animals have been with us since the beginning of times. Our lives have always depended on animals in one way or another. We use animals for transportation, for food, for protection, and even for company. Much of our lives depend on our furry friends. This is why, today, in order to honor our little friends, I have decided to share with you a few animal expressions. You will see that some are more intuitive then others. So, let’s have some fun and learn some new expressions.

  1. Ser un/a gallina – to be a chicken

This expression literally means to be a chicken if we translate it word by word. Now, let’s think a bit. Do we have a similar expression in English? Well, there is this expression: to chicken out, which means to freak out. What exactly does ser un gallina mean? If you guessed to be a coward, then you are right. It is also quite intuitive as chicken get scared quite fast and run away when you get close to them.

  1. Estar como el perro y el gato – to be like cats and dogs

This expression is quite an easy one as there is an identical one in English. To be like cats and dogs or to fight like cats and dogs means to fight a lot. I guess no further explanation is needed for this one.

  1. Comer como un pajarito- to eat like a bird

Let’s think about this expression. How do birds eat? Have you ever seen a bird eat a lot? We are not talking about pelicans or vultures, but normal birds. They eat a few bites. After all, they do not have a big body, so they do not need all of those calories. So, if someone eats like a bird, then they do not eat a lot.

  1. Tener memoria de elefante- to have the memory of an elephant

Elephants are big, and so are their brains. It is said that they are the animals with the highest memory. So, if someone tells you “tienes memoria de elefante”, this means that he is complimenting you. He is saying that you remember everything, just like elephants do.

  1. Estar pez –“ to be a fish”

In English we have various sayings about fish. One of them is to have the memory of a fish. Another one is like a fish out of the water. Fish are known for their short memory. Having this in mind, what do you think the expression estar pez could mean? Well, it is actually the equivalent of like a fish out of the water, which means clueless.

As you can see, there are many animal idioms in Spanish that are quite similar to those in English and very helpful to add in your Spanish phrases. However, it is important to remember that not all expressions translate the same. It is better to always double check with the dictionary or a native Spanish speaker when you want to use a Spanish expression, otherwise you might end up making a fool out of yourself. With this in mind, I might come up with another list of Spanish expressions in a short while if you have enjoyed this one.

How to talk about the weather in Spanish

No matter with whom you are talking, somehow you end up mentioning the weather. It is a major part of our lives and it influences our decisions and our feelings. This is why you want to learn some useful words and phrases to describe the weather in Spanish.  They will most definitely boost your talking game too.

Weather can be expressed by using 3 different verbs: hacer, estar, and haber. We will take a look at all these situations in order for you not to have to always think about what verb you have to use each time.

Let’s take a look at the weather phrases that are formed using the verb hacer:

  • Hace calor (= it is hot)
  • Hace frío (= it is cold)
  • Hace fresco (= it is cool)

You can also talk about the weather using these two phrases formed with the verb hacer:

  • Hace buen tiempo (= the weather is nice)
  • Hace mal tiempo (= the weather is bad)

Now, let’s take a look at the weather expressions that use the verb estar. As you know from my post about the verbs ser, estar, haber, the verb estar is used to talk about states that are not permanent, and the weather is a great example of something that is constantly changing.

  • Está nublado (= it is cloudy)
  • Esta soleado (= it is sunny)
  • Está despejado (= it is clear)
  • Está ventoso (= it is windy)
  • Está lloviendo (= it is raining)
  • Está nevando (= it is snowing)

Now, let’s take a look at the weather expressions that use the verb haber, more specifically the form hay, which means, that there is some kind of weather phenomenon.

  • Hay viento (= there is wind)
  • Hay niebla (= there is fog)

Let’s take a look at the differences between the three verbs used to describe the weather. Is there a specific rule?

Well, for example hace is normally used to describe the general feeling of the weather, like it is hot, cold, windy. On the other side, hay and está are usually more specific.

A great tip for you would be to stop worrying about which verb to use in each situation and just learn these expressions by heart.

There are also some expressions that are used in Spanish to express the weather. Let’s take a look at some of them.

First, how do you say that it is raining really hard? Well, you have two expressions:

  • ¡ Llueve a cántaros! (= it is raining buckets)
  • ¡ Llueve a mares! (= it is raining oceans)

When someone is having a hard time, you can cheer them up by telling them this phrase:

  • Siempre que llovió, paró ( = whenever it rained, it stopped).

Just remember, it is important to learn these phrases because you always need small talk as it is an essential part of our lives.

Expressing feelings in Spanish

It is true that nowadays most of our communication is online. We can express anything through smiles and gifs. The same happens in the real world where when we do not know how to express our feelings and we simply smile, laugh, or frown. You have probably caught yourself just saying sí and no in Spanish when trying to express your feelings. Add a smile or two, and maybe this is the best that you can do. Fortunately, by the end of this post, you will be able to say more than sí/ no and actually manage to express your feelings.

Let’s start by learning how to express happiness. There are three common ways of doing so:

  1. Estoy contento(a)

This means that I am happy. You can use this expression to express your general satisfaction or happiness.

Example: Estoy contento de tener que trabajar menos que ayer.

Translation: I am happy that I have to work less than yesterday.

  1. Estoy feliz

This expression also means I am happy. Although it has a similar meaning to the expression from above, estoy feliz means that you are a bit more excited and joyful.

Example: Estoy feliz porque he ganado el premio.

Translation: I am happy because I have won the prize.

  1. Me alegro or estoy alegre

The first expression comes from the verb alegrarse, which is reflexive. It means that I am happy or that I am glad. You can relate it to the English expression I am happy to hear that. The second expression, means that I am happy.

Example: Me alegro de recibir esa noticia.

Translation: I am happy to hear this news.

On the other hand, you also need to express sadness and fury in Spanish. Below are some common ways to do so.

  1. Estoy triste

This means I am sad. You use this expression when you are feeling down.

Example: Estoy triste porque mis padres no me dejan salir.

Translation: I am sad because my parents do not let me go out.

  1. Estoy enfadado (a) and estoy enojado (a)

These two expressions are used to express anger. The main difference between the two is the region where they are used. The adjective enojado is more commonly used in Latin América, while the adjective enfadado is more frequently used in Spain.

Example: Estoy enfadado/ enojado porque se me ha roto la bicicleta.

Translation: I am angry because my bicycle broke down.

These are some of the most common ways of expressing feelings in Spanish. Of course, there are many more options to do so, such as expressing your love for someone or on the contrary, the hate for them. In addition, you can also express indifference, but we will cover these topics on a later post. If you want to learn more about this topic, you can contact me, or check out this post by Fluentu, which has many more useful expressions on this topic. After all, you can’t just smile and wave your whole life.

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/todo seguido.

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? – ¿Cuánto es la tarifa?

Now that you know how to ask for food and how to ask for an adress, it is a great momento to learn how pedir and preguntar work in Spanish.

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.

Love phrases in Spanish

freelance cooperation to increase your services
“Lemur giving hands” flickr photo shared by Tambako the Jaguar under a Creative Commons ( BY-ND ) license

It is Valentine´s Day, so what better way to express your feelings for your loved one than in the language of love: Spanish. Below are some Spanish love phrases from famous Spanish and Latin American authors that will make your crush fall for you or your loved one be even more in love with you.

Pablo Neruda, a poet from Chile and the winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize for Literature gives us a perfect type of phrase: “En un beso, sabrás todo lo que he callado”, which means: in one kiss, you will know all I have not said.

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, a post romanticist poet and writer, is considered to be one of the most read Spanish authors after Cervantes. Here is one his quotes that is guaranteed to make your crush fall for you: “El alma que hablar puede con los ojos, también puede besar con la mirada” and its translated version would sound something like: the soul that can speak with its eyes, can also kiss with a look.

Luís de Góngora was a Spanish poet whose poems were mostly written in the Baroque style. Here is one of his most romantic phrases:“A batallas de amor, campos de plumas”, which translates into: In the fight for love, a soft playing field.

If you are looking for something more on the humorous side, then a quote from Enrique Jardiel Poncela might just be the right thing for you. The Spanish novelist and playwright adopted a style based mostly on humor. Here is one of his love quotes: “El amor es como la salsa mayonesa: cuando se corta, hay que tirarlo y empezar otro nuevo”, its translation being: Love is like mayonaisse: when it separates, you’ve got to throw it away and start again.

José Ortega y Gasset a Spanish philosopher and essayist leaves us with this interesting insight about love: “Con la moral corregimos los errores de nuestros instintos y con el amor corregimos los errores de nuestra moral”, which means: With morality we correct the mistakes of our instincts, and with love we correct the mistakes of our morals.

This list could not be complete without a quote from the most renowned author from Spain, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, most famous for his worldwide best seller novel: ¨Don Quijote de la Mancha¨. Here is the quote: ¨El amor es invisible y entra y sale por donde quiere, sin que nadie le pida cuenta de sus hechos¨, its translation is: Love is invisible and comes and goes where it wants, without anyone asking about it.

If saying te quiero seems to no longer be enough to express your love, then maybe one of the phrases above will do the trick. There are many styles to choose from (funny, philosophical, romantic) and the options expand beyond these mentioned in this article. Here are some other Spanish phrases that you might find useful for any occasion, not just Valentine´s Day. And in this blog you can discover the uses of pedir vs preguntar.

Spanish words: Saber vs. Conocer and Pedir vs. Preguntar

common spanish phrases to express opinion
Open Air Dining flickr photo shared by Anne Worner under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

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As with the verbs ser and estar, Spanish requires speakers to differentiate between different kinds of knowing or asking. Unlike ser and estar, however, these rules are much more clearly defined.

  1. Getting To Know Saber and Conocer

These two verbs can be separated into two relatively distinct categories: to know and to be acquainted with. Saber, the former, is used to express measurable knowledge such as facts, figures, and locations.

I know where she works.  Sé dónde trabaja ella.

I don’t know his name. No sé su nombre.

Likewise, it is used for skills, knowledge you’ve learned by heart, and disciplines that you either know a lot about or next to nothing:

Juan does not know how to drive. Juan no sabe conducir.

Flor knows the lyrics of the song (by heart). Flor sabe la letra de la canción or more common in spoken speech Flor se sabe la letra de la canción.

Isabela knows a lot about math. Isabela sabe mucho de matemáticas.

Jorge doesn’t know a word of French. Jorge no sabe nada de francés.

Conocer, on the other hand, is used for all those things with which you can be acquainted, but never fully know, such as people or cities:

I know Julietta. Conozco a Julietta.*

Alberto knows Medellín. Alberto conoce Medellín.

It can also be used for disciplines that you are familiar with, but do not have complete knowledge of:

Germán is familiar with French literature. Germán conoce la literatura francesa.

*Remember that when talking about knowing people you need to put an “a” in front of their name to distinguish them from inanimate objects.

  1. Asking For What You Want with Pedir And Preguntar

Fortunately, the rules for pedir and preguntar are much simpler to learn. Pedir is like “to ask for” in English, and you use it when you’re requesting an object, service, or favour. This makes it a key verb for eating out in restaurants and buying things in shops.

I asked him for chocolates. Le pedí bombones.

Let’s order now (ask for food).  Pidamos ahora.

Can I ask you a favour?  ¿Puedo pedirte un favor?

On the other hand, preguntar is for when you want to ask a question or request information.

I asked the time. Pregunté la hora.

Ask him what time the shop opens. Pregúntale cuándo abre la tienda.

As always, pay attention to when and how native speakers use these four verbs, as this will help reinforce the rules you’ve memorised. As well, it’s a good idea to memorise a couple useful phrases that take one or the other, not only to be more comfortable using them in sentences, but also as a reference point for when you are unsure of which to choose.

If you want to practice you speaking in Spanish, write me for a class!

Spanish Conversation Starters to Practice

Have you ever felt stuck not knowing what to talk about with new people?  If it happens in your native language, it’s probably even worse when you’re practicing your Spanish language skills.  To help you be prepared to strike up a conversation to practice your Spanish, be prepared with these four conversation starters:

¿A dónde has viajado? Where have you traveled?

This quick and easy conversation starter gets you talking about countries, languages, food, attractions and more.  To practice for this conversation you’ll need some follow up questions such as:  ¿Hablas (idioma)? Do you speak (language)? ¿Que fue lo que más te gustó? What did you like the most?  Also be prepared to share your own travel journeys and what you enjoyed in the places you’ve been.  You’ll need to brush up on your past tense to express yourself well when answering this question.

¿Qué es lo que te apasiona? What are you passionate about?

This is a great conversation starter that will really allow you to get to know someone on a deeper level.  If you want something even more natural you could try: ¿Qué es lo que más te gusta? Talking about passions goes beyond learning about someone’s job or their daily routines.  This really gets you into what people are interested in pursuing, working on and spending time on in their lives.  To practice for this conversation, you may want to brush up on your vocabulary touching on professions, activities and hobbies.  And of course you’ll need a response as well.  Think about what you enjoy doing, what liberates you and what you feel happy doing.  Be ready to express it.  This conversation will likely be focused on the present tense, but will also likely dabble into the past and future.  If you’re looking to practice all tenses and a wide range of vocabulary, it’s a good choice.

Conversation in Spanish
Open Air Dining flickr photo shared by Anne Worner under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

¿Qué es lo mejor que te ha pasado esta semana? What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this week?

Everyone has an answer for this and it doesn’t have to take things too deep if you’re feeling uneasy about striking up a conversation with a stranger.  You’ll practice basic everyday vocabulary and the past tense.  This conversation will probably give you some insight into your conversation partner’s daily life and routines.

¿Tienes planes para el fin de semana? What are you doing this weekend?

This is an easy, no pressure conversation starter.  Every day activities and vocabulary are practiced such as “Voy a ir al cine” “I’m going to go to the movies” or “Voy a jugar futbol con unos amigos” “I’m going to play soccer with some friends”. For practicing the future tense, this is an excellent choice as the main points of the conversation will be focused there.  What if it IS the weekend when you’d like to practice this conversation?  Then try, “¿Que planes tienes para esta semana?” “What plans do you have for this week?”

Conversing in Spanish is one of the best ways for learners to improve.  Want more conversation starter ideas? Check out this helpful site that has a long list of conversation starters for you to practice.  Just translate them into Spanish and you’ll be ready to have a killer conversation AND improve your Spanish language skills.