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Keep calm and also speak Spanish!

It deserve to be a bit an overwhelming to arrive in a country where you don’t speak the lingo, so below are a couple of Spanish language basics to acquire you started.

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Visiting a foreign nation is finest enjoyed once we can interact with the locals. Not only does this permit us come express simple needs and also wants, that the gateway to understanding a society and a country. Unfortunately, finding out Spanish language for a two week expedition isn’t constantly feasible.

Nevertheless, also if we can’t summon the power to find out Spanish, a couple of basic sentences are key in order to gain by. If English speaker abound in traveler hot-spots, this might not constantly be the case and they can be quite hard to come by in other parts that the country. 


Related – better letters and also formal Spanish formations


To start, it’s a should to understand the greetings and also salutations essential for an easy social interaction. To say hello to world you don’t understand (approaching a shopkeeper, because that example) or informal and also semi-formal situations, use among the complying with greetings:

Buenas / Buen día / Buenos días / Buenas tardes / Buenas noches

Buenas is a really general greeting that can be offered at any type of time of the day, when día(s), tardes or noches, refer to morning, afternoon or evening, respectively. Informally, a simple hola will certainly serve you right in many situations. The expression “Qué hubo?”, shortened come Q’hubo or quiubo is a common greeting in Colombia, an interpretation “What’s up?”.

¿Q’hubo John, todo bien? what’s up John? everything alright?

Todo bien, gracias. ¿Y tú? Everything’s good, thanks. And you?

Depending again top top the formality the the situation, you may use among the complying with to ask, “How are you?” keep in mind that the variation indicates the plural use, as soon as addressing a team of people:

¿Cómo le / les va? formal singular / plural

¿Cómo estás / están? unshened singular /plural

¿Cómo has actually / han estado? How’ve friend been? not blocked singular / plural

If you’re speak to someone did you do it met before, they’ll most likely want to understand “What’s new?” by asking something along these lines:

¿Qué cuentas? / ¿Qué más? / ¿Qué hay de nuevo? / ¿Qué tal? 

When conference a human being for the an initial time, introductions room in order. This entails a handshake for men and a kiss top top the cheek when a woman is involved. Every you really have to say is, “Nice to accomplish you” adhered to by your very first name:

Mucho gusto, Mike. 

Some the the more common instances you might encounter together a traveller include going to shops and also counting money, ordering at a restaurant, detect accommodation, taking a cab or public transport, questioning for directions, count pesos and also doing basic banking. It’s also important to understand a couple of basic words because that emergency situations.

Numbers and money

Although counting in thousands does take it a tiny while to acquire used to, the good news is that understanding your number from one to one hundred is enough to kind the rest. The basic unit is 1,000 (mil), and the remainder of the numbers follow from that. Thus 2,000 is dos mil, 20,000 is veinte mil and also 100,000 is cien mil. To type compound numbers, simply add an ‘y’ in between the tens and the solitary digits. For example, 84 is a combination of ochenta and cuatro: ochenta y cuatro. A pair of exception to the counting ascendancy in the table listed below include 500 – quinientos and also 900 novecientos.

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Spanish language numbers.Shopping and eating

When walking past a shopfront or vendor, it’s common to hear “A la orden”, an interpretation at your service. The polite solution is a rapid “gracias.” to ask if a shop carries what you looking for, questioning ¿Tiene ____? for example, if you topping up minute for her phone, you would say ¿Buenas, tiene minutos? 

When questioning for prices, use among the following:

¿Cuánto vale (esto)? / ¿Cuánto cuesta (esto)? exactly how much is (this)?

¿A cuánto está (el vestido)? exactly how much for (the dress)?

If you’re emotion lucky, shot to bargain:

¿A cúanto me lo puede dejar? / ¿Cúanto es lo mínimo?

One peculiarity around Colombian Spanish language is the usage of the phrase ¿Me regala…? Literally analyzed to “Can you gift me…”, its use is more akin come “Could i have…?” So, if you’re obtaining a black color coffee – un tinto – in ~ a corner store you would ask, ¿Me regala un tinto? This likewise applies come objects and services.


When eat out, there space a few ways of asking the server for your dish:

Para mí un ajiaco, por favor. I’ll have an ajiaco, please.

¿Me regala (un corrientazo)? may I have actually (a collection meal)?

To questioning what a food selection option come with, you will do ask:

¿Qué trae la hamburguesa? or ¿Con qué viene el combo? 

At the finish of the meal, when you ask because that the bill, the server will ask you even if it is the tip have to be included. There is a 10% optional reminder that you might accept, deny, or modify. Be certain to phone call the server how you’d prefer to proceed.

¿Me regala la cuenta por favor? might I have actually the invoice please?

¿Desea incluir el servicio? / ¿Con servicio? would you choose to include the tip?

Sí, claro. Yes, the course.

No, qué pena. No, sorry.

Directions and also transportation

Try using one of these paragraph when looking for a landmark or one address:

Disculpe, ¿Hacia dónde queda (la plaza)? pardon me, which way is (the plaza)?

Perdón, ¿Sabe dónde queda esta dirección? Sorry, carry out you understand where this attend to is?

Estoy buscando (la catedral). I’m searching for (the cathedral).

Keep in mind that in Bogotá, if someone says to “go up”, or subir, they typical that you must figuratively go “up the mountain”, so towards the mountains. Of course, bajar means to go away indigenous the mountain, or west.

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Spanish language directions.Accommodation

When trying to find a location to remain the night, make certain to ask whether basic services are included, and also food and check out times.

Necesito un cuarto para dos personas. I need a room for two.

¿A qué hora es la salida? what’s the check-out time?

¿El precio incluye el desayuno? Is breakfast consisted of in the price?

¿Tiene aire acondicionado / ventilador? go it have actually AC / a fan?

Emergency situations

Hopefully, you will certainly not need to make use of any kind of of this Spanish language, yet it’s always best to it is in prepared.

Necesito una ambulancia / un medical professional / ir al hospital. I need an ambulance / a physician / to walk to hospital.

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Se me perdió mi pasaporte. Necesito ir a la embajada de (Canadá). I lost my passport, I should go to the (Canadian) embassy.