By Jimena Puga
When traveling, it is always important to know some basic words or phrases in the local language. When traveling Spain these are the Spanish phrases that we deemed absolutely essential during your time abroad. Although English is the number one second language in the world, it’s always appreciated to pick up a few phrases of the native language to communicate with locals.
We’ve put together a list of good-to-know (and easy to remember!) Spanish phrases that can help you while exploring Spain!
Let’s start with the basics of Spanish phrases.
Hola / Adios – Hello / Goodbye
Gracias – Thank you
¿Habla inglés? – Do you speak English?
If you need help with anything or do not know how to say a word, you can also just ask if the person speaks English. Keep in mind, however, that many locals may not speak English, especially if they are elderly. Depending on where you are traveling, you may be resorting to Google Translate!
Now onto a few more complex Spanish phrases.
¿Nos puede tomar una foto, por favor? – Can you take our photo, please?
Imagine being at Parc Guell or in front of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and wanting to take a group photo with your friends. You can ask a local to take your photo by using this simple sentence.
¿Cuánto cuesta? / ¿Cuánto es? – How much does it cost? / What is the total cost? “¿Cuánto cuesta?”
“¿Cuánto cuesta?” can be used when asking how much a single article costs; whereas “¿Cuánto es?” refers to the total amount.
When shopping these Spanish phrases may help avoid getting quoted more than a fair price, which is lovingly referred to as the “tourist tax” amongst frequent travelers. I.e., the vendor increases the prices for tourists as they assume they are willing to pay a higher price!
¿Aceptan tarjetas? – Do you take cards?
When traveling through Spain, it might be a good idea to keep cash on you if you want to pay for anything at smaller stores – for example, at souvenir shops. Either way, we recommend you ask someone that works at the store if you can pay with a credit or debit card before trying to pay.
¿Dónde está ? – Where is the…?
A simple phrase like ¿dónde está…? can be helpful to know as you explore a new city in Spain. You can add just about anything to this phrase, for instance, “¿Dónde está el restaurante?” is, “Where is the restaurant?”
This phrase is easy to remember and one that you can use almost anywhere if you find yourself lost or in search of a local landmark. Good to know: when asking where something is, use está and not estás. When you add the “s” at the end, you are asking where that person is (tú/you) as opposed to a location.
La cuenta, por favor – The bill, please.
Talking about restaurants, this will definitely come in handy when having to pay at the end of lunch or dinner. Unlike in America where the wait staff will typically ask the table if they’re ready for the check, or will simply leave the check at the end of a meal, in many European countries this is considered to be impolite. Instead it is commonplace for the guests to have to request the bill in order to have a leisurely meal and not feel rushed to leave.
Looking for the best places to eat in Barcelona? Check out our top 3 favorite spots in the city.
¿Donde esta el baño? – Where is the toilet?
Chances are, at some point during the day, you’ll need to use a bathroom. Notice that the “n” in the word “baño” has a squiggle on the top. In Spanish, this sound would be pronounced like the ‘ni’ sound in the word “onion”.
¿Dónde está la parada de taxis? – where is the taxi stop?
Make sure you always get home safe after a night out, and learning the following phrase can avoid having you walk back to your accommodation late at night. Uber and Lyft aren’t as popular as they are in the states and locals rely more upon taxis and public transportation to get around!
Now you know some basic Spanish to get you through your time in Spain, whether it be strolling down the Ramblas in Barcelona, at the beach in San Sebastian, or shopping in Madrid!