As a new Spanish learner, you might know your hola from your gracias and a handful of common Spanish phrases, but things get real when you’re asked to talk about your hobbies, emotions or language skills.
And this doesn’t only apply to beginners!
Imagine you’ve finished an online Spanish course and some time has gone by.
Would you still be able to use different apologies depending on context? Invite a Spanish-speaking friend for coffee with confidence? React naturally when you bump into a friend you haven’t seen in ages?
Even intermediate speakers can feel a little insecure and forget phrases after some inactive time.
For that reason, we’ve compiled this huge list of common Spanish phrases that you’re likely to need in different occasions. Whether you’ve decided to finally learn a new language during lockdown or have pursued Spanish for some time now, these will give your basics a little push!
Please don’t see this list as something you must memorize straight away!
Think of it as a handy list of alternative words and inspiration.
Save it and come back to it when needed.
Once you’ve mastered a couple of basics, you can always return and search for a handy phrase that breathes more life into your Spanish! 🙂
Table of Contents:
- Greetings and salutations in Spanish
- Saying goodbye in Spanish
- Spanish for when you bump into someone you haven’t seen for ages
- Introducing yourself in Spanish
- Talking about what you do in Spanish
- Getting to know someone in Spanish
- Explaining why you’re learning Spanish
- Talking about your Spanish skills
- Geeking out in Spanish about your hobbies and interests
- Inviting a friend to do something fun in Spanish
- Telling someone how you truly feel in Spanish
- Being confused in Spanish
- Congratulating or wishing someone well in Spanish
- How to say thanks in Spanish
- Apologizing in Spanish
- Ordering food and drink in a Spanish-speaking country
- Spanish basic connectors and fillers
- Chunking in Spanish
Phrases for greetings and salutations in Spanish
You love making a great first impression. To be fair, you’ve been perfecting your pronunciation, confidently practicing with your bathroom mirror.
You’re ready to shine.
That’s why next time you meet a Spanish-speaking friend, you’ll give it your all in the first 30 seconds using these Spanish expressions!
¿Cómo va todo?
Saying goodbye in Spanish
Departures don’t have to be sad if you add the right tone to these Spanish phrases.
The most flexible keyword here is hasta, which means “until”. You can use it to refer to the next time you’ll be seeing someone.
¡Hasta el lunes!
Spanish phrases for when you bump into someone you haven’t seen in ages
Haven’t seen a friend in a long time?
Here are some Spanish phrases you can use to express your joy and surprise.
Remember: all of these are informal, so try not to use them with your former boss if you see them walking outside (unfortunately, no formula has been created yet to act invisible and run to the other side of the sidewalk in Spanish!).
¡Mucho tiempo sin verte!
¡Cuánto tiempo sin verte!
¡Qué alegría verte!
¡No me lo puedo creer!
¿Qué hay de nuevo?
Introducing yourself in Spanish
The word soy (I am) is essential to talk about who you are. Ser (to be) is used in Spanish to refer to physical and psychological descriptions, occupations (more on that below), your relationship status and your nationality.
Of course, you’ll also use it to say your name. To talk about where you live, use the verb vivir (to live).
As for age, Spanish speakers use the verb tener (to have), rather than “to be”.
Soy de Inglaterra.
Vivo en Australia.
Tengo 27 años.
Talking about what you do (work) in Spanish
Retired? Student? Employee at your dream company? Looking for a job?
When we talk about occupations in Spanish, we’re likely to use the verbs ser or estar. Which one you choose will depend on how permanent or temporary your occupation is. For example, looking for a job is a temporary state.
Studying for a short course is a temporary state. Both have an end in sight. For these, we’d typically use estar.
Other useful verbs are estudiar (to study) and trabajar (to work).
Soy profesora de yoga.
Estoy estudiando español.
Trabajo a tiempo parcial.
Estoy buscando trabajo.
Spanish phrases for getting to know someone
Spanish learners sometimes forget that asking questions is just as important as knowing how to answer them.
After all, language is all about interaction!
Whether you’re casually getting to know someone over coffee or interrogating your nemesis in a cold room, these informal expressions will come in handy:
¿Cómo te llamas?
¿De dónde es?
¿Cuáles son tus pasatiempos?
¿A qué te dedicas?
¿Cuál es tu trabajo/ocupación?
Explaining why you’re learning Spanish
The keywords for this topic are por qué (why) and porque (because) (see our guide to porque in Spanish). They’re pronounced similarly, but the first one emphasizes the end of the word.
Next time someone asks you ¿Por qué quieres aprender español? (Why do you want to learn Spanish?) or ¿Por qué te interesa el español? (Why are you interested in Spanish?), you can say:
Porque me encanta la cultura española.
Porque mi compañero(a)/pareja es venezolano.
Porque mis abuelos eran mexicanos.
Porque quiero entender la música en español.
Phrases for talking about your Spanish skills
What skills do you feel most comfortable with in Spanish? Do you prefer talking or writing? Can you understand almost everything you hear but struggle with fluency?
Let’s learn how to explain these things in Spanish.
Key verbs? Entender (to understand), escribir (to write), leer (to read), hablar (to speak), and poder (to be able to).
Sólo hablo un poco.
Entiendo bien el español.
Me cuesta hablar con fluidez.
Puedo escribir/leer/hablar muy bien.
Todavía tengo que hablar despacio.
Prefiero hablar que escribir.
Geeking out in Spanish about your hobbies and interests
It’s time for Spanish phrases to help you share your deepest passions and tastes.
Use Me gusta(n) or Me encanta(n) (add the letter ‘n’ if you’re talking about multiple things) to talk about what you like or love. The word for Spanish word for hobby is pasatiempo, so you’re likely to encounter it.
Me gusta escuchar música.
Me gustan las series de terror.
Uno de mis pasatiempos es escribir.
Me encanta el cine español.
Me encantan los libros de fantasía.
Inviting a friend to do something fun in Spanish
So you’ve connected over hobbies and interests.
You’re ready for the next step. How to invite someone for coffee, a date or a movie night? Keeping the verbs querer (to want), gustar (to like), salir (to go out) and tomar (to take – often used for drinks), let’s look at the examples below.
Notice how Quieres? and Te gustaría? mean the same thing, only with different levels of politeness.
¿Te gustaría ir conmigo?
¿Te gustaría ir al cine mañana?
¿Quieres tomar un café?
¿Te gustaría salir conmigo?
Telling someone how you truly feel in Spanish
If the verb ser is used for personality and physical descriptions, the verb you’ll need to talk about emotions or feelings is estar (to be).
You can also use sentir (to feel) or tener (to have), depending on your state of mind.
Estoy muy nervioso(a).
Me siento mal.
Phrases for when you’re confused in Spanish (it happens to the best of us!)
In an ideal world, we’d never hesitate or get confused when practicing Spanish. But real life will necessarily throw some awkward moments and incomprehensible speech at us.
Here’s how to express confusion or lack of information:
No lo sé.
No tengo idea.
No tengo ni idea de qué hacer.
No estoy seguro(a).
¿Puede(s) hablar más despacio, por favor?
Phrases to congratulate or wish someone well in Spanish
Life is too short to not wish people a beautiful life in Spanish.
Would you be able to use these expressions off the top of your head?
¡Disfruta! / ¡Disfrutad!
¡Que te vaya bien!
How to say thanks in Spanish
You’ve probably heard ¡Gracias! as a common way of thanking someone in Spanish, but there are plenty of other options that’ll bring more color to your vocabulary.
Here are some of them:
Eres/Es muy amable.
Estoy muy agradecido(a).
Te lo agradezco.
Apologizing in Spanish
In life, we’re likely to meter la pata (screw up unintentionally) more often than we’d hope. That’s when you’ll be thankful that you know these common Spanish phrases!
Perdón (pardon, excuse me) or disculpe(a) are for little everyday accidents, like interrupting someone when they’re talking, asking for the teacher’s attention during a lecture or stepping on someone’s foot.
Lo siento and its variations are for serious situations, like the death of a loved one, a breakup, or hurting someone’s feelings.
Lo siento mucho/muchíssimo.
No volverá a ocurrir.
Phrases to order food and drinks in a Spanish-speaking country
This is the section you were daydreaming about!
Next time you enjoy a table full of tapas, or perhaps a delicious arepa to go with your Colombian or Venezuelan meal, try these Spanish phrases with the waiter.
Remember to use the verb tomar (to take) for drinks.
¿Nos trae la carta, por favor?
¿Qué me/nos recomienda?
Voy a tomar un té, gracias.
Para mí, las enchiladas.
Tenéis pulpo a la gallega?
¿Nos puede traer la cuenta?
Basic connectors and filler words to use in your Spanish phrases
If you often feel artificial, forced or robotic when speaking Spanish, incorporating words like entonces (so), pues (well), bueno (well then), a ver (let’s see), es que (it’s just that) and así que (and so / for that reason) can go a long way.
You’d be surprised at how small words can make you sound much more natural.
Llegaste tarde, así que decidí ir al concierto sola.
¿Así que estás pensando viajar mañana?
No tenéis paella? Pues, entonces un bocadillo.
Pues…no sé qué hacer.
A ver. Que quieres hacer hoy?
No quiero ir con él. Es que me siento mal por lo que pasó.
Bonus trick: Chunking in Spanish
How can you use this list in the best possible way?
Start by selecting a couple of Spanish phrases. Perhaps the ones you’re most likely to need in your next conversation.
Become comfortable with them through listening repetition and speaking repetition (rather than memorizing a whole bunch of phrases out of nowhere).
Focus on each phrase as a unit, rather than trying to dissect every word. Grammar study isn’t our focus here.
Our focus is chunking.
The trick is learning language as if you’re learning a song. Language is tone, musicality, harmony and lots of enthusiastic repetition.
Chunking is more about parroting what you hear and trying to speak as naturally as possible, rather than learning Spanish verb conjugations.
What if you looked at this list that way?
Share your thoughts.
Which expressions surprised you or challenged you as a Spanish learner? What’s your single favorite phrase in Spanish and why? And can you recommend more phrases we didn’t include?