Language Guide
Miscellaneous
How to Sound like a Local in Spain

How to Sound like a Local in Spain

Quick Answer

The Spanish language has a long and varied history, affected by its central location between Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Even within Spain there are around a dozen different spoken languages! But don't let that scare you away. While Spain has many different languages, Castilian Spanish being one of them, the following words are used and understood by Spaniards nationwide.

Thinking about traveling to Spain? Here are a few slang words and phrases that are helpful to know before you start hitting up the tapas bars!

Barcelona Skyline

Vale = Ok

If there's one word you should know when traveling to Spain, it's vale . You'll hear it everywhere. It's used to affirm something – okay, alright, sounds good, understood. It also can be used as a question of verification.

Desayunamos a las 7h. ¿Vale?
We'll eat breakfast at 7:00. Okay?
 

Buenas = Hello

You'll hear buenas  more than you'll hear hola.  It can be used at any time of day!

Buenas. ¿Puedo ayudarte con algo?
Hello. Can I help you with something?
 

Tío/tía = Guy/girl or man/woman

Tío  is an informal way to address or refer to someone. You might think everyone is calling each other aunt and uncle at first. But they're not.

¿Qué te pasa, tía? ¿Estás bien?
What’s going on, girl? Are you okay?
 

Guay = Cool

Up your street cred with this one. Guay  is used by Spaniards all over to refer to things that are cool. Feel free to use it when referring to a restaurant you went to, an experience you had, an interesting book you just read—really anything you find fascinating. Careful, though! When referring to people as cool, especially when referring to how attractive they are, Spaniards typically go with the adjective, majo .

¡Qué guay el concierto de anoche! Y encima de todo conocí a Enrique Iglesias. Es muy majo en persona.
The concert last night was so cool! And I even got to meet Enrique Iglesias. He’s even more attractive in person.
 

No pasa nada = Don't worry about it

No pasa nada  is the Spanish way of saying it's all good. Spaniards use it for both informal and formal situations and you’ll hear it much more frequently than no hay problema  or no te preocupes .

¿Estás perdido? No pasa nada. Hay mapas en la estación del metro que está allí en la esquina.
Are you lost? Don't worry. There are maps at the metro station over there on the corner.
 

Pinchos = Tapas

If you go up north, you'll want to order pinchos . They're basically the same as tapas , though pinchos are usually bigger and are served on a skewer on top of bread.

Conozco este bar en la plaza mayor que vende los mejores pinchos en toda Salamanca. ¡Vamos!
I know this bar in the main square that sells the best tapas in all of Salamanca. Let’s go!
 

¡Venga ya! = No way!

Save the phrase ¡Venga ya!  for when you want to convey disbelief after having experienced something unbelievable. Feel free to use it for something truly incredible, such as watching your favorite soccer team make an incredible comeback. You can also use it to express incredulity for everyday occurrences, such as your roommate forgetting to clean his or her dishes for the umpteenth time.

¡Venga ya! ¿Acabas de comerte la pizza entera sin ofrecer ni un solo trozo a alguien aquí?
Come on! Did you just eat that entire pizza without offering a single slice to anyone here?
 

Pasta = Money

Not to be confused with the food, pasta  is colloquially used in Spain to mean dough, moolah, or money. Remember to reserve this word for a colloquial or informal context, such as when talking to a friend or family member. When paired with the indefinite article, una pasta  can refer to a fortune.

Sueño con visitar ese nuevo restaurante de José Andrés pero es tan caro y no tengo la pasta.
I dream of visiting José Andrés’s new restaurant, but it’s so expensive and I don’t have the money.
 

Hasta luego = See you later

In Spain, hasta luego  is how everyone says goodbye. It’s so commonly said—even more so than adiós —that Spaniards tend to compress the sounds of phrase so that it sounds like ’sta logo.

Me tengo que ir. ¡Hasta luego!
I have to go. See you later!
 

Ronda in Málaga, Spain

¡Qué guay!  Now you know enough Spanish slang to blend in on the streets of Madrid , Barcelona , or Málaga . Time to book your ticket!

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