Whether you plan to travel to Spanish-speaking countries, need to speak to business clients or just want to talk to Spanish-speaking people in your own town, learning common phrases helps you to communicate and connect with other people. The more often you use words and phrases in a new language, the better you'll be at remembering them. Study the phrases a few times a week and again right before you plan to use them.
Gratitude and Apologies
If nothing else, "Please," or "Por favor" and "Thank you" or "Gracias" are essential Spanish phrases to have in your repertoire. Add on "You're Welcome," or "De nada," for those times when someone says "Thank you" to you. On the other hand, if you need to apologize, say "Perdon" or "Disculpeme." To say "I'm sorry" when someone is ill or injured, say "lo siento," which means "I'm sorry for your loss or your problem."
Meeting and Greeting
Between noon and 7 p.m., you would greet someone formally in Spanish by saying "Buenas tardes," or "Good afternoon;" change "tardes" to "dias" for the morning and to "noches" for the evening. In a more causal setting, "Hola," or "Hi" works at any hour of the day. Let others know your name by saying "Mi nombre es Jennifer," and add that you're glad to meet them, "Encantada." If someone asks "How are you?" reply with "Bien" if you're feeling good; ask them back "Como Estas" or more informally, "Que tal."
In the City
In the center of the city, "En el centro de la ciudad," you'll need phrases such as "What time is it?" or "Que hora es"; "Where is the station or bathroom" or "Donde esta la estacion o en el bano" and "how much is the map, the shirt or the dress," which is "Cuanto es el mapa, la camisa or el vestido." If you plant to return the next day, tell someone "hasta manana," which means "see you tomorrow."
When you're traveling, you'll have lots of occasions to tell shopkeepers and servers what you want. Begin any phrase with the Spanish verb for "I want," which is "Quiero," then add on the item you want and "Gracias" to end your sentence. "I want a salad," would be "Quiero la ensalada," and "I want a beer" would be "Quiero una cerveza." You might begin any meal with a toast of "Salud," which translates literally as "Bless you."
Susan Lundman began writing about her passions of cooking, gardening, entertaining and recreation after working for a nonprofit agency, writing grants and researching child development issues. She has written professionally for six years since then. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.