Take your Spanish vacation experience to the next level with this guide to common Spanish phrases perfect for travellers.
Whether you’re heading to Spain or the Americas, Spanish is one of the best and most useful languages to learn. Once you learn a few phrases, can make use of your Spanish skills in over 11 countries around the world.
Let’s take a quick look at the Spanish language so you’re a bit more clued up on its origin, use, and vocabulary.
I hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed bringing it together. If you have any requests for other languages, let me know in the comments section!
Where is Spanish spoken?
Being the official or national language in Spain, Equatorial Guinea, and 19 countries in the Americas, Spanish is one a great language to have under your belt as you travel.
There are some 418 million speakers in Americas alone. Instituto Cervantes claims that there are around 477 million Spanish speakers with native competence, 572 million who speak Spanish as a first or second language and more than 21 million students who are learning Spanish.
Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations and is an official language of the European Union.
A brief history of Spanish
Originating in the Castile region of Spain, Spanish (español) is also known as Castilian (castellano).
Spanish evolved from several dialects of Vulgar Latin in Iberia after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century.
Spanish began to spread beyond mainland Europe in the early 16th century when the Spanish Empire established colonies in the Americas, as well as territories in Africa, Oceania and the Philippines.
Ancient Greek contributed substantially to Spanish vocabulary, in addition, up to 75% of modern Spanish is derived from Latin.
What’s not well-known is that Arabic has also left a substantial mark on Spanish vocabulary having been in contact with the language very early on. Around 8% of Spanish vocabulary is of Arabic origin, making it the second most important influence after Latin.
Spanish spelling is very phonetic with only a few exceptions. This means that if you know how to pronounce the letters of a word, it’s relatively easy to sound out the word itself. A bonus characteristic for new learners.
Accents and Stress
In Spanish, where you place the stress in a word can alter its meaning. Here are some general rules to follow:
- If a word is marked with an accent, then that syllable receives the stress.
- If a word is NOT marked with an accent, then
- if the word ends in a consonant other than N or S, the stress occurs on the last syllable (eg. hospital = “os-pee-TAL”)>
- if the word ends in a vowel, N or S, the stress occurs on the next to last syllable (eg. muchacho = “mu-CHA-cho”)
- In Spain (Except in some parts of Andalusia, and in the Canary Islands) a English ci/ce or z sound makes a English “TH”. In Latin America, it makes the “S” sound.
P.S. If you’re reading this on your phone and can’t see the pronunciation column, turn it to landscape mode. For some reason, tables aren’t mobile friendly. Sorry!
Common Spanish Phrases
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|Good morning||Buenos dias||BWEH-nohs DEE-ahs|
|Good evening||Buenas tardes||BWEH-nahs TAR-dehs|
|Good night||Buenas noches||BWEH-nahs NOH-chehs|
|How are you?||¿Cómo estás?||KOH-moh ehs-TAHS?|
|I’m well, and you?||Estoy bien, y tu?||ehs-TOY byehn,|
|Good, thanks||Muy bien, graci||MOO-ee byehn, GRAH-syahs|
|Please||Por favor||pohr fah-bvohr|
|You’re welcome||De nada||DAY NAH-dah|
|Excuse me (begging pardon)||Perdon||pehr-DOHN-eh|
|I’m sorry||Lo siento||loh seeehn-toh|
|I don’t understand||No entiendo||NOH ehn-TYEHN-doh|
|Do you speak English?||Habla ingles?||¿ah-bvlah een-glehs?|
|How much is…?||Cuanto cuesta…?||¿koohahn-toh?|
|Where is…?||Donde esta…?||dohn-deh ehs-tah|
|May I please have…?||Quiero… /Me puede poner…?||KYEH-roh / meh PWEH-deh poh-NEHR|
|I don’t eat…||No como…||noh KOH-moh|
|I’m a vegetarian||Soy vegetariano/a||soy beh-heh-tah-RYAH-noh/-nah|
|the bill, please||La cuenta, por favor||lah KWEHN-tah, pohr fah-BOHR|
|Straight ahead||Todo recto||TOH-doh REHK-toh|
|Turn left||Gire a la izquierda||HEE-reh ah lah ees-KYEHR-dah|
|Turn right||Gire a la derecha||HEE-reh ah lah deh-REH-chah|
|Bus stop||Parada de autobus||pah-RAH-dah de ow-toh-buus|
|Train station||Estacion de tren||ah ehs-tah-SYOHN deh trehn|
|I need a doctor||Necesito un medico||neh-seh-SEE-toh OON MEH-dee-coh|
|I don’t feel well||Me siento mal||meh SYEHN-toh mahl|
|Call the police!||Llama a la policia||YAH-meh oon ah lah poh-lee-SEE-ah|
Want more? Here are some hilarious Spanish expressions!
Ready to improve your Spanish? Visit my handy language resource guide.
Plus, if you want to know how the experts learn languages, I asked 11 top polyglots to share their language learning secrets. Find out how they start learning a new language, overcome plateaus, and maintain multiple languages.
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Over to you!
Which of these common Spanish phrases do you find most useful? Which other phrases would you like to know?
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