If you can't learn the language, learn these Spanish phrases and you'll feel much more comfortable while traveling...
Before I get into Spanish phrases I want to comment on having to speak Spanish in Spain. You do not have to be fluent in Spanish to travel through out Spain. You can without a doubt manage without speaking the local language and if you are reading this website and are an English speaker you will do just fine.
Almost all the hotels you go to will be bi-lingual in at least English and usually another language also. Most major cities you go to will be easy to get around using English. We find that Madridleños (the people of Madrid) speak very good English. Also, we have never been snubbed for not being fluent in Spanish.
If you do not speak any Spanish learning a few key phrases will make your trip so much more fun with these tips.
1. If you are a native English speaker do not expect others to know your language. Do not start a conversation in English or assume the Spaniard you are speaking to knows English. You will get a lot more cooperation from the locals if you ask very humbly “por favor, hablas ingles?”.
2. Thank the person if they speak to you in English or attempt to speak to you in English. This is there country and they do not have to speak to you in English.
3. Attempting to speak the worst Spanish phrases in the world is better than not attempting at all. It is better to have a Spaniard make fun of your Spanish and help you than to be snubbed.
4. Sound more like a local: “Vale” pronounced like valet in valet parking is used instead for “ok”.
5. Moving beyond bare bones basic: Consider taking a private one day lesson on one of your first days. Your instructor will not only give you phrases to sound like a local they also can give you tips on the local happenings, great places to eat, tips on what is worth seeing and so on.
6. For those who may have taken Spanish in high school. Consider taking a beginner Spanish course at your local college before you leave for Spain. This might be a bit extreme for some but I have done this and it is amazing how much Spanish you will remember. Also, you will find even after just a beginner Spanish course your trip to Spain will be so much more fun.
7. Private lesson before you go. Again this and the previous option are not nescary but even a couple of private Spanish lessons before you go will come in handy.
8. “Thank you” -Spaniards to not say use the Spanish phrases of thank you as often as Americans or Brits. They are not rude…I just think they use the word sparingly so when it is said it is more meaningful. So for example when the waiter brings your food you don’t need to say thank you ever single time he brings you something. By Spanish thinking this is his or her job and it demeans your gratefulness by over stating it.
9. “I’m sorry” or “lo siento” you will not hear these Spanish phrases uttered often or at all. Maybe a “disculpa me” or “pardona me” but not “lo siento”. I believe this has to do with the fact that Spaniards are very proud people and like saying thank you they don’t want to demain the phrase by over use.
10. “Tranquilo” or relax enjoy yourself and have fun with the language. No one will expect you to be fluent but anyone should be able to remember 10 or so words and phrases.
Hello – Hola
Good bye – adios ( most common, but like english there are many ways to say good bye)
Thank you – gracias
Your Welcome – de nada
Yes – si (like see)
No – no (said more quickly than English no)
Good morning – buenas dias
Good afternoon – Buenas tardes
Good night – Buenos noches (or in adaluz buen noche)
Nice to meet you – Mucho gusto
My name is – me llamo…(do no use is…”me llamo John”)
What is your name – Como se llama?
How do you say – Como se dice?
Where is –Donde esta…(bathroom – baño, hotel – hotel, no h, etc.)
When – Cuando?
How much – Cuanto Cuesta?
I want – yo queiro…
I would like – me gustaria…
Can I have – puedo tener?
Here – aqui
There – alli (a like someone stepped on your foot a, ye like ye ol tavern)
With – con (good to know for coffee with/con sugar/azucar)
Without – sin (same as above no sugar, sin azucar)
Big – grande
Small – pequeño (pey-ken-yo)
Hint: “ito” is often used for small like “cervacito” or little beer. Is often used in families as little johny “juanito”. Change the o to a for femine nouns and names for example the name Paloma changes to Palomita.
Excuse me – permiso (used when your are trying to get around someone in the supermarket or on the bus)
Excuse me – Disculpame ( when you accidently bumped into someon)
Excuse me – Perdona (when you need to interrupt someone, like when you are on the street and need directions)
Good – bueno
Bad – mal
Expensive – rico
Cheap – barrato
More – más
Less – menos
Now – ahora
How are you – Como está usted (formal, don’t know the person and they are older. Think of usted as sir or ma’m)
How are you – Como estas ( informal, younger person or a friend)
Do you speak English – hablas ingles
I don’t speak Spanish – no hablo español (remember do not pronounce the h and the “a” sounds like “a” in apple. Lastly the n is pronounced like y so “no ab-lo es-pan-yol)
I like – me gusto
Can you help me – puedo ayudarme
I am American – soy norteamericano (north American because anyone living below Canadao could be from the Americas)
I am Canadian – soy canadiense
I am English – soy ingles
In cash – en effective
Can I pay with credit card – por favor, puedo pagar con tarjeta de credito?
I don’t understand – no comprendo
How is that pronounced – como le pronuncia
More on learning Spanish
More on traveling to Spain
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