If you are visiting a Spanish-speaking country, why not try to understand a few basic Spanish sentences before you set off.
Whether you are traveling to Spain, Argentina, Colombia or any other Spanish-speaking country, you will need a handful of useful idioms to live your best life on your travels.
Plus, locals always appreciate travelers who have made an effort to learn Spanish.
Remember: you don’t have to be fluent in Spanish to get through. Learning some basic Spanish phrases will go a long way.
Whether you’re looking to learn how to ask directions or order a delicious meal, we’ve compiled a list of the popular Spanish idioms you need for a relaxing, enjoyable, and memorable trip!
A good first impression always starts with an opener – a small gesture, if you will, to show a willingness. So if you only learn one sentence before your trip, make sure it is one of those sentences.
Here are some conversation openers:
- Hello! – Hello!
- Good day – good Morning
- Buenas tardes – good afternoon
- ¡Buenas! – Hello! (A more informal and relaxed approach; can be used at any time of the day with friends or family.)
And here are a few more to say goodbye in Spanish:
- Adiós – Goodbye
- Hasta Luego! – See you later!
Be polite in Spanish
“Please” and “Thank you” are two magic words that go a long way in the English-speaking world.
Especially in the UK: every day you say “sorry” here and another “sorry” there – sometimes you even say it when you don’t really mean it or when it isn’t really your fault.
But Spanish-speaking people do not tend to overdo politeness by repeating subtleties like over and over again por favor or Gracias. Use them half as much as in English and you’ll sound more like a local!
- Gracias – Thanks
- many thanks – many thanks
- De nada – You’re welcome
- Por favor – You’re welcome
- Disculpe – excuse me
- Lo siento – I am sorry
Important Spanish phrases (if you get stuck!)
It will be an inevitable possibility in your journey. You start the conversation with a common Spanish sentence (good job in advance, by the way!).
You will then receive an answer that is either delivered so quickly that you didn’t understand it correctly, or uses the structures and vocabulary that are currently a little too advanced for your taste.
It is normal to feel overwhelmed. But It’s okay not understand everything you hear.
Here’s how to ask someone to repeat what they said or to say it more slowly. I threw one in too if you have no idea what to say. All bases = covered.
- No entiendo – I do not understand
- Más dispacio, por favor – slower please
- ¿Puede repetir? – Can you repeat that?
- ¿Qué Significa …? – Which does ______________ mean?
- No sé – I dont know
And if these suggestions fail, there is no shame in telling them you don’t speak Spanish and asking them if they speak English:
- No hablo español – I do not speak Spanish
- ¿Habla inglés? – Do you speak English?
Would you like more than just a few common Spanish phrases so you can live like a local during your travels?
Learn Spanish today with Busuu’s Travel Course.
Ask for directions in Spanish
Let’s explore your surroundings.
With so much time and so little time to do it, at some point during your trip you will get lost – and you will have to ask for directions.
To ask where something is just say: ¿Dónde está …?followed by the word for what you are looking for.
Use this question if you’re looking for something in particular.
- ¿Dónde está el baño? – – Where is the toilet?
- ¿Dónde está el restaurante? – – Where is the restaurant?
- ¿Dónde está la calle…? – – Where is … the street?
If you’re looking for a more general location – from a restaurant to a subway station – all you have to do is change clothes está (“it is for hay (“there is there are”).
- ¿Dónde hay un restaurante? – Where can I find a restaurant?
- ¿Dónde hay una estación de Metro? – – Where can I find a subway station?
Of course, you will only find these questions useful if you understand the common Spanish idioms that people offer in response.
Here are some phrases that locals use when trying to point you in the right direction:
- A la derecha – On the right side
- A la izquierda – Left
- En la esquina – in the corner
In the restaurant
Food, lovely food. Eating out and trying local delicacies are precious moments that are worth enjoying.
From ordering food and drink to querying the bill, here are some of the most useful phrases you might need in a bar or restaurant:
The easiest way to order at the bar or in the restaurant is to use “quiero“(I want to). I know what you’re thinking: you have your English hat on and you’re wondering,” But isn’t that terribly rude? “But it’s not as rude as it sounds.
Spanish speakers use it all the time when ordering food and drink or when buying something in a store.
If you’d rather stick to the more formal version of this verb, you can say Quisiera (“I would like to”).
- Quiero un Café, – I would like a coffee.
- Quisiera un billete de ida y vuelta. – – I would like a return ticket.
There’s an even simpler option too: you can just say what you want followed by one por favor.
- Un café con leche, por favor. – –A latte, please.
- Una caña, por favor. – A beer please.
Top tip for jet setters flying to Spain:
To forget una cerveza. Una caña the locals actually say when they order a beer in Spain. It’s a draft beer, usually half a pint.
But the size of one caña varies from one bar to another.
Hold your horses, we’re not done yet: I have a few more common Spanish phrases for you:
- ¿I pone …? – Can I have…?
Here is a language tip:
End the question ¿I pone …? byAt the end, add the drink or tapa you want. If you are Really Give it a try next time you’re in a bar or coffee shop.
¿I pone un café? – Can I have a cup of coffee?
¿I pone una caña? – – May I have a beer?
- La cuenta, por favor. – I’ll have the bill, please.
- ¿Cuánto it? – How much is it?
One last insider tip:
At the end of a meal in a restaurant, ask about it la cuenta. But if you are in a bar and paying for your drink or food at the bar, just ask the waiter ¿Cuánto it?. Or to sound even more authentic,¿Me Cobra ?.
I now officially declare you ready for your trip! Pack these common Spanish phrases and we, at Busuu, wish you a wonderful trip.
Or as any Spanish speaker would say:
¡Buen viaje! (Good Trip!)
Did you know that you can learn up to 12 languages with Busuu?