Barcelona and Madrid may bring to mind sunshine, sangria, beautiful people dancing flamenco and other gorgeous Spanish sights. The food, the people and the beautiful country make this an amazing destination for tourists of every age, and the language can be one of the most beautiful parts of your trip. Though quite a few people in most major cities speak English, here are 10 helpful phrases that you can use while in Spain to pass yourself off as one of the ‘locals’ and make your trip to Spain even more memorable.
1. ¡Hola!/ Buenos días (Buenas tardes/noches) – Hello! Good morning/afternoon-evening/night.
Remember not to pronounce the ‘h’ in hola, and to think of the ‘ue’ sound as more of a ‘way’. Greeting shop keepers, waiters and new friends you may meet on your travels , these phrases are always a polite way to start. When in doubt, stick with hola, or buenas dias and a warm smile.
2. ¡Salud! – Cheers!
A perfect way to toast to new friends met over a glass of sangria or sidra (Spanish cider). People in Spain tend to drink beer on tap as well as full bodied red wine, so mix it up and try a little bit of everything if you get the chance.
3. Encantado (if you’re male, or Encantada if you’re female) – Pleased to meet you.
This is perfectly paired with igualmente (‘e-gwal-men-tay’), meaning likewise. Often this can give you a bit of a classy edge depending on who you’re talking to. It always impresses.
4. Puede hablar más despacio, por favor? – Can you speak slower please?
This phrase will come in pretty handy with fast-talking Spanish speakers. A language known for being beautifully spoken at a lighting pace, you may need to ask people to slow down for you in conversation so you can keep up.
5. ¿Hablas Inglés? – Do you speak English?
For pronunciation think “Ahblah, Een-glayz.” A handy phrase that you’ll find you might not need as often as you think as many younger people in major cities speak English well. The more outside the cities you venture though, the more important this phrase becomes. Listen for Solo un poquito (‘po-key-to’) meaning ‘Only a little’.
6. Claro – Of course.
You might hear this in response to the above phase (Do you speak English). With any luck you’ll also here it when asking for a pitcher of sangria. Feel free to interject this whenever you like in conversation, within reason, as it a beautiful way to interject a little Spanish into your holiday conversations.
7. ¡Déjame en paz! – Leave me alone!
For pronunciation think, “Day-yamay on paz”. Hopefully a phrase you’ll never need to employ, but possibly a handy one for solo female travellers trying to ward off unwanted attentions. Or perhaps also handy for the aggressive salesperson who just won’t take no for an answer.
8. ¿Cuánto te debo? – How much do I owe you?
For pronunciation think “Kwanto de daybo.” This is quite informal, and often heard at bars. It’s an informal way of asking for the bill or tab, and can be used in an establishment where you feel comfortable being friendly with the bar staff.
9. ¿Cuánto cuesta esto? – How much does this cost?
For pronunciation think “Kwanto kwesta esto?” A handy phrase for any sale purchase, make sure you check for the price if none is marked as you may be able to haggle some of your purchases.
10. ¡Cuánto tiempo! – Long time no see!
For pronunciation think “Kwanto ti-em-po.” Literally meaning ‘how long’ this is a phrase that can be said amongst friends at a reunion or perhaps at that bar you’ve grown to love in Madrid. Definitely a friendly way to greet someone you know, keep it in your repertoire for people you’ve met before.
Curious as to how your current Spanish knowledge will fair? Why not try one of our level tests here. If you’re a seasoned Spanish speaker (or tourist!) send us your tips on your top sayings in the comments section below!