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Make Yourself Understood with a Simple Sentence in Spanish!

From Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Languages > Spanish > Learning the Basics in Spanish

Would you like to go on holiday to Spain or to a Latin American country but don’t speak a word of Spanish?
Learning the Spanish language will help you get by in any situation.

If you are looking to go to a Spanish speaking country for holiday and are a bit worried about your language skills then you are in the right place.

After you read this article, you will need to learn all the useful phrases in order to have basic conversations in Spanish and learn it even faster!

Spanish, An Easy Language for Anyone to Learn

For an English speaker, Spanish is far from having the complexity of Chinese or Arabic.

In fact, Spanish is probably the easiest language to learn for an English speaker. You can acquire a good level in a relatively short time.

If Spanish is an easy language, it is first of all because it is a Romance language, much like Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and French.

If you are motivated enough to learn useful Spanish sentences, you can reach your goal in a few weeks or a few months.

Even if you start with zero Spanish. It’s never too late to start learning Spanish. But let’s be honest: you will not become bilingual overnight, even with Spanish.

But is that really the goal anyway? If traveling to a Spanish speaking country or exchanging in Spanish in a professional context is your goal, there is no need to be bilingual.

Here are the important sentences to know in Spanish.

Useful Spanish Words and Important Sentences

The most basic of things is to be able to greet other people and to introduce yourself in Spanish. Let’s start there.

Here are the sentences to greet someone:

  • To say hello if it’s the morning: “¡Buenos dias!”, “¡Buenas tardes!” if it’s the afternoon and finally “¡Buenas noches!” if it’s the evening. You will notice that Spanish uses upside down exclamation marks at the beginning of the sentence when there is an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence. It’s the same thing for question marks.
  • To say “hi” to a friend: ¡Hola! is a more informal way to greet someone.
  • To say “goodbye”: Adiós.
  • Hasta hora: see you later.
  • Hasta pronto: see you soon.
  • Hasta mañana: see you tomorrow. “Mañana” means both “tomorrow” and “morning” in Spanish.
  • Lo siento, pero tengo que irme: I’ll have to leave you.
  • ¿Quieres dejarme tu telefono / mail? Could you give me your phone number/your email?
  • Dales recuerdos a tus amigos: greet your friends on my behalf.

Can you spot the similarities between Spanish and Portuguese?

beach-espana One of the many beaches in Spain!

Here are some essential Spanish vocabulary words.

In addition to your Spanish courses work on memorizing this list.

They are used in most Spanish sentences:

 

  • Sí: yes.
  • No: no.
  • Por favor: please.
  • Muchas gracias: thank you very much.
  • Perdón: excuse-me. You can also say “disculpe.”
  • Muy bien: Great.
  • ¿ Y usted ?: And you? If you want to be informal: “¿ Y tú?”
  • No hay de qué: No problem.
  • De nada: You’re welcome.

Here are the useful sentences to know when you are introducing yourself:

  • Me llamo Daniel: My name is Daniel.
  • Bienvenido: Welcome.
  • ¿Cómo se llama?: What’s your name?
  • Soy francés: I’m French. If you’re a woman: Soy francesa.
  • ¿De donde es?: Where are you from?
  • Soy de Miami: I’m from Miami.
  • Este es el señor Martin: This is (Mister) Martin. We can also say “Le presento a Martin.” If it’s a woman: “la señora.” If the woman is your wife: “mi mujer.” Be careful, the “j” is pronounced as a harsh “r” in Spanish.
  • Me ha encantada de haberle conocido: It was so good to meet you. If the person in question is a woman, it’s “haberla.” If you’d like to say “Great to meet you” it’s: “Encantado.” Or “encantada” if you are female.
  • Fue un placer conocerte: It was lovely to meet you.
  • Tengo 12 años: I am 12 years old.
  • Igualmente: me too.

 Now here are the words and sentences to use in order to ask a question in Spanish: 

  • ¿Me podriá ayudar a…?: Could you help me to…
  • ¿Tiene la sal ?: Do you have the salt?
  • ¿Qué hora es ?: What time is it?
  • ¿Hay… ?: Is there?
  • ¿Dónde está el metro ?: Where is the subway? In order to say: “I’m looking for the subway”: “Estoy buscando el metro.”
  • ¿Dónde se compran los billetes ?: Where do you buy the tickets? The verb is conjugated (compra if you are looking for a singular object).
  • ¿Qué es esto ?: What’s this?
  • ¿Cómo ?: What?

To say you want something: « Querriá »  (I’d like…).

Also be careful of pronouncing the sentences with the right Spanish accent!

Here are some more useful sentences for all types of situations :

  • ¿Estaba muy bien ?: It was great. Looking back on a show for example. To say  “It was very good”: « ¡Estaba muy bueno ! »
  • In order to say you like something: “Me gusta” (I like it). If you like more than one thing “Me gustan.” To say you don’t like something: “No me gusta/an.” “Ne me gusta(n) mucho”: : I don’t like it much.
  • Estoy de acuerdo con tú/usted: I agree with you. I don’t agree: “No estoy de acuerdo.”
  • Me gustaría (ir al teatro): I’d like to go (to the theater).
  • Para mí (no es una buena idea): I don’t think (it is a good idea).
  • No entendio: I don’t understand. Or: “Disculpe, pero ne he entendio”: sorry but I didn’t get that.
  • No gracias: no thank you.
  • Lo siento mucho: I’m really sorry.
  • No pasa nada: don’t worry about it.
  • ¡Enhorabuena!: congratulations!

Here’s what you can say in order to explain that you don’t speak Spanish very well and to better understand what your interlocutors are saying:

  • Hablo un poquito español: I speak a little Spanish. To say you don’t speak it at all: no hablo español .
  • To ask whether you can ask a question: ¿Le puedo hacer una pregunta? (May I ask you a question?).
  • To ask whether the person can repeat themselves slowly: ¿ Podría repetirlo más despacio, por favor ? (Could you repeat yourself more slowly, please?). Or, in a shorter way: « ¿Puede repetir ? ».
  • No he oído lo que ha dicho: I didn’t hear what you said. So your Spanish tutor repeats him/herself!

walking-tour Walking around Spanish villages is priceless!

Some sentences to have you notice how close Spanish is to Catalan!

Spanish Sentences to Use in Everyday Situations

And now here are some Spanish sentences that can be useful in certain situations.

First of all, when you want to find your way around and need to ask a hispanophone:

  • ¿Perdone, me puede indicar comme ir al metro / al centro ?: Excuse me, could you show me the way to the subway/city center?
  • ¿Estoy perdido, me puede ayudar ?: I’m lost. Could you help me?
  • ¿Dondé está el supermercado ?: Where is the market?
  • A la derecha : to the right. A la izquierda: to the left. Derecho: straight ahead. Al lado de: next to.

When you want to travel (by bus, by train, by plane…) :

  • Quisiera un billete para Madrid, por favor: I’d like a ticket for Madrid, please.
  • ¿A qué hora sale el autobus para la playa ?: At what time is the bus going to the beach? If it’s a train: el trén. If it’s a plane: el avión.
  • ¿Donde puedo comprar los billetes ? Where can I buy the tickets?
  • ¿Done está la estación de tren más cercana ? : Where’s the closest train station?
  • ¿Donde está la taquilla ? : Where is the ticket counter?
  • ¿Donde está la parada de autobús ? Where is the bus stop?
  • un billete sencillo: a one-way ticket. A return ticket: un billete ida y vuelta.
  • ¿Puedes darme los horarios ? Can you give me the hours?
  • ¿En qué dirección debo ir ? Which way do I have to go?

big-architecture Learn your way around the beautiful Madrid!

At the hotel and at the restaurant:

  • ¿ Tiene une habitación libre, por favor ? Is there vacancy?
  • ¿ Quiziera reservar una habitación para 3 personas ?: I’d like to reserve a room for three people.
  • ¿ Quisiera alquilar une habitación / una casa / un apartamento durant 7 días: I’d like to rent a hotel room/a house/an apartment for seven days.
  • ¿ Que restaurante me recomendia en la zona ?: Which restaurant do you recommend around here?
  • Une cerveza, per favor : a beer, please. For a glass of wine: une copa de vino. For a coffee: un cafe. For a flat water: un agua sin gas.
  • ¿ Nos podria traer la cuenta, por favor ? Can you bring us the bill please?
  • ¿ Donde se encuentran los servicios ? Where’s the bathroom?

With these few sentences, you should be able to make yourself understood and communicate in Spanish. So get to work! You can also take some Spanish lessons if you have time to deepen your learning and go further.

To successfully memorize the sentences, you must absolutely repeat them several times. If you are motivated, you should be able to learn useful Spanish words and phrases in a few weeks. Maybe even a few days if you take the time to study and have a good memory….

Feel free to watch movies in Spanish to familiarize yourself with the Spanish accent and the way people use the language.

If then you want to go further when it comes to learning Spanish, you will have to spend a lot of time on the verb conjugation.

Spanish verbs are rich in their variety (which is true of the Spanish language as a whole). This is probably the most difficult element of the Spanish language.

 

The difference between the “castellano” of Spain and the Spanish in Latin America

bolivian-waters How about a trip down to Bolivia to get your Spanish on?

The Spanish found in Spain and the castellano found in Latin America are what we call linguistic cousins.

The Spanish of Christopher Columbus or Cristobal Colombus influenced Latin America no doubt, but the years or centuries of independence of the countries that make up Latin America have made the Spanish veer away from that of Christopher Columbus.

In a continent known for its welcoming, warm, and festive people, the use of Spain’s Spanish formal “you” is almost non-existent.

For example we do not say “Como estáis? But “Como están?”

In general, Spain uses the polite formula of “usted (es)” only on rare occasions such as meeting the King. The Latinos give themselves to their heart’s content and use it in everyday life.

For the record, “gringo” and “ay caramba” are only used in South America and not in Spain.

Expressions One Uses in Mexico

mexican-art In Mexico. Americans are called “gringos.”

“Madre” means “mother” in Spanish.

It is best known for its spicy gastronomy, its beautiful beaches in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, as well as the Mayan civilization. But Mexico has a special Spanish, which is spoken everywhere except very touristic places in Yucatan.

Recognized for their strong accent, the Mexican’s Spanish differs considerably from Spain’s Spanish.

Often caricatured by Latinos or Mexicans themselves, Mexican Spanish is unique. One thing that stands out always is that the ‘r’ rolls on for longer than necessary.

Ask a Mexican to pronounce the word “Ecuador” and it will give “Ecuadorrrrrrrrrrrrrr”.

Another big difference is how quickly or slowly the language is spoken. Indeed, when conversing in Mexico people take their time to issue, articulate, and accentuate each word.

Mexican “Spanglish”

The history and war between Mexico and the United States of America, their geographical proximity, and the Tex-Mex gastronomy have all had a linguistic impact with Mexico’s vocabulary.

Indeed, unlike South American countries, but much like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, Mexican Spanish has integrated a series of English words. Here are some examples of what linguists today call “Spanglish”:

 

  • To rent: rentar (instead of “alquilar”): Rent
  • To check: checar: Verify.
  • A car: un carro (instead of “un coche” ): a car
  • A truck: una troca (camioneta): A truck

Some Spanish words that hail directly from Mexican culture:

  • ¿Mande?: how?
  • ¡No manches! : “incredible” in slang.
  • Orale: a word Mexicans use for pretty much everything: “that’s incredible”, “hurry up”, “go on”…
  • ¡Está padre!: “this is great!” in slang.
  • ¿Que onda? /¿Que pasó?: the Mexican version of “What’s up?”
  • Fresa: snob, bourgeois.
  • Gringo(a): a nickname for North Americans.
  • Guero(a) (ou huero): It designates people of white ethnicity.
  • Guey (prononcer wey): the same as “dude”.

Let me now draw the reader’s attention to “ahorita.” It literally means “now” but is used a lot to say “I’m coming” a little later…So it’s not quite “now!” This should be learnt quickly because it can become very awkward when someone waits around after you’ve said “ahorita vengo”.

Finally, something to know before embarking on a trip to Mexico for an immersive linguistic study trip is that if you hear the word “chilango” or “coger” in conversation they have a sexual connotation though they don’t in Spain.

Simple Sentences to Use in Colombia

Spanish-colors You could learn Spanish in one of the most colorful countries of South America!

The country is more famous for its cartels and a certain Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria and the Narcos series has certainly reinforced the clichés. However, Colombia should be recognized for its linguistic virtues.

Indeed, from Bogota to Cartagena via Medellin, Colombia has one of the purest forms of Spanish in Latin America and a very clear pronunciation.

There is a common pronunciation, however, some regions pronounce things differently. The Colombian intonation in Spanish has a musicality that is influenced by the wide ethnic diversity composing the country.

The same way that Mexico does, Colombia uses the word “usted” to establish a formal conversation. A strange fact is that when two friends argue, they use “usted” to speak to each other in an insulting manner.

Here, there are very few anglicisms, but a multitude of expressions make up Colombian Spanish. Here are the most common examples:

  • No dar papaya: this expression means not to “show off one’s wealth”. It is very common in a country that is marked by  extreme violence.
  • Qué más?: “What’s up?”, “What’s going on?”
  • Que pena: “What a shame”. In Colombia it is used all the time to apologize: to interrupt someone, jostle, ask a favor or disturb. Pretty polite, no?
  • Que este bien / Que le vaya bien / Que descanse … : “Be well” / “good luck” / “Rest up”. A polite way of saying goodbye.
  • Que mamera! / Que pereza: Colombian version of “I’m feeling lazy!”
  • Listo: OK ! (even if it literally means “ready”)
  • Hagale: “Do it,” which is used in many different contexts. To say “ok” or encourage someone to do something.
  • A la orden: means “at your service” and “I beg you”. It is heard everywhere and is used by all the street vendors.
  • Parcero/parce/weon/(her)mano: Colombian version of “my homie”
  • Hagame un favor (impératif) ou Me hace un favor: People use it when asking for a favor.
  • Chevere ! / Bacano ! / Que chimba ! : the Colombian version of “Great!”
  • De una ! : It’s an expression to say “Let’s do it”, “let’s go”
  • Guayabo : hangover
  • Prendido : “tipsy” in Colombian.
  • Bobo: Stupid. Often heard as “no seas bobo”
  • Un man: a dude, a man. Anglicism.
  • Regálame: It means “sell me” or “give me” in a way that is very specific to the Colombians.
  • Una pola: a beer
  • Re: “very.” Used as a prefix, such as in “re-chimba.”

Key Spanish Sentences to Use in Argentina

word-spanish L’espagnol argentin est reconnaissable parmis des milliers. Il puise son originalité dans sa prononciation et l’utilisation de certains mots.
Argentine Spanish is recognizable amongst thousands of different Spanishes. Its originality lies in the pronunciation and use of certain words.

Far from the Spanish classes taught in language schools, the Argentinean castellano draws its particularities from its differences with Spain’s Spanish the Spanish of the rest of Latin America.

It is spoken with a rapidity close to Spain’s Spanish, which astonishes in comparison with the Spanish of Mexico or Colombia. It also has intonations close to Italian, due to Italian immigration there after the Second World War.

The castellano of Argentines draws its originality from the pronunciation of certain letters that cannot be found anywhere else.

The sound “ch” is systematically used by Argentineans from Buenos Aires to Iguazu as soon as two “l”s follow each other or when the word contains a “y”.

For example we will often hear “the cache” or “como te chama” respectively in place of “calle” and “como se llama”.

As for the vocabulary, there are certain words that you should perhaps not use in Argentina unless you are certain of their meaning.

  • Aguantar: support someone
  • Asado: BBQ
  • Bancar: support, help, give, pay
  • Birra: beer
  • Boliche: discotheque
  • Boludo: idiot (used jokingly between friends, an insult if used with unknown people)
  • Bondi: bus
  • Boton/Cana: cop
  • Chabon/Chabona: child, boy/girl (affectuous)
  • ¡Che!: Hey! (typical expression to call on someone)
  • Chorro: thief
  • Copado: good vibes
  • Coparse: adore
  • Fiaca: flame
  • Flaca/Flaco: chick/dude
  • Guita: dough, money
  • Hinchapelotas: annoying
  • Laburo: work
  • Macanudo: super, great
  • Mango: peso, dough (coins)/1000 pesos
  • Mina: girl, chick
  • ¡Mira vos!: to express surprise
  • Morfar: eat
  • Mozo: bartender
  • Palo: a million pesos
  • Pancho: “hot dog.” There are many in Buenos Aires.
  • Pibe/piba: dude/chick.
  • Pucho: cigarette
  • Quilombo: whorehouse

And to complete your knowledge, please take a look at the best Spanish expressions!

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