Fundamental Spanish Phrases to Learn Right Away
As Spanish learners, we've all gone through the experience of staring blankly at someone after they've spoken to you in Spanish and you have no idea what they said. In the meantime, our brains are playing catch-up trying to process and understand each word that was just said to us. The reason that comprehension can be so difficult at first is because we parse out language as phrases instead of as words. That’s why a great way to learn languages is to learn phrases as a whole first and then learn the words that make them up. In this article, we’ve written down the most fundamental Spanish phrases to help you fake it 'til you make it. With some practice, you'll be having great conversations in Spanish in no time!
Buenos días in Spanish means good morning and is the most common way of greeting someone during the morning hours. In most Spanish-speaking countries, you might even just hear buenos , as a shortened, more colloquial form of this phrase.
Similar to hasta pronto, hasta luego means see you later and is also a common way to bid farewell. The slight difference is that hasta luego tends to be used in situations where you're not sure when you'll next see each other.
Gracias means thank you or thanks in English and is used across different formal contexts, in every Spanish-speaking country, and by almost anyone you meet. Feel free to use it whenever you get the chance!
The more often you say gracias, the more likely you are to hear de nada , which means you’re welcome in English. A popular variation of de nada that you might also hear is no hay de qué , which also means you’re welcome or don’t mention it.
Perdón is a polite way of saying excuse me or pardon me. You can use this phrase in situations where you didn’t hear someone and need to politely ask them to repeat themselves, after accidentally stepping on someone’s foot, or even if you want just want to politely grab someone’s attention to ask them something.
Por supuesto means of course in English and is a common way to enthusiastically respond to someone’s request in the affirmative. To spice things up, you can also use the phrase claro que sí , which means the same thing.
If all of a sudden, all of your Spanish-speaking friends start saying feliz cumpleaños to you, you better check the date; it’s probably your birthday! Feliz cumpleaños means happy birthday and is used to wish anyone a happy birthday regardless of status, gender, or region. If it is your birthday, you can claim the title of cumpleañero (birthday boy) or cumpleañera (birthday girl) for the day!
¿Cuánto cuesta? is a useful question that means how much is this? and can be used in any store or marketplace to inquire about how much something costs. Additionally, you can ask ¿Cuánto vale? or simply ¿Cuánto es? as variations of ¿Cuánto cuesta?.
If someone asks you a question and you can’t think of the answer, this phrase will surely come in handy. No sé means I don’t know. Upon admitting you don’t know something, you can always ask your friend ¿sabes tú? or do you know? to see if they can help you out.
Te quiero means I love you in English, even though its literal translation is I want you. This is a phrase you can use to show your affection for a parent, friend, or significant other. You can also use the phrase te amo (this time, literally I love you) in the same way, however be advised that te amo tends to carry a more romantic connotation in some regions.
If you want to express to your friend, family member, or spouse, how much you miss them while they’re away, you’ll want to remember, te extraño , which means I miss you. Alternatively, it’s very common to hear the phrase te echo de menos , which is an idiomatic way of saying the same thing!
Buena suerte means good luck and you can use it just like in English. Remember this phrase to wish someone good luck before they take an exam, before they go on stage, or before they head out on a very important date.
You’ll want to use the phrase, buen trabajo , meaning good job to congratulate someone on a job well done. You can also use the phrase bien hecho , which means well done, to communicate the same sentiment.
¡Bien hecho! Now you have a bunch of useful phrases to carry with you into your Spanish class or Spanish conversations while traveling to a Spanish-speaking country. With some practice, you'll start to master these essential phrases in no time.