The Mezzofanti Guild Language Learning Made Simple

105 Common Spanish Phrases Every Learner Should Know


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 after some inactive time.

For that reason, we’ve compiled 105 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 on your tabs 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:

  1. Greetings and salutations in Spanish
  2. Saying goodbye in Spanish
  3. Spanish for when you bump into someone you haven’t seen for ages
  4. Introducing yourself in Spanish
  5. Talking about what you do in Spanish
  6. Getting to know someone in Spanish
  7. Explaining why you’re learning Spanish
  8. Talking about your Spanish skills
  9. Geeking out in Spanish about your hobbies and interests
  10. Inviting a friend to do something fun in Spanish
  11. Telling someone how you truly feel in Spanish
  12. Being confused in Spanish
  13. Congratulating or wishing someone well in Spanish
  14. How to say thanks in Spanish
  15. Apologizing in Spanish
  16. Ordering food and drink in a Spanish-speaking country
  17. Spanish basic connectors and fillers
  18. Chunking in Spanish

 

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 expressions!

¡Hola! (Hello!)

¡Buenos días¡ (Good morning!)

¡Buenas tardes¡ (Good afternoon!)

¡Buenas noches¡ (Good evening / good night!)

¿Cómo está(s)? (How are you? – adding the letter ‘s’ at the end makes it informal)

¿Cómo va todo? (How’s everything going?)

¿Qué tal? (How’s everything?)

¿Qué pasa? (What’s up? – informal)

Bien, gracias. (I’m well, thanks.)

 

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.

¡Adiós! (Goodbye!)

¡Hasta pronto¡ (See you soon!)

¡Hasta luego¡ (See you later!)

¡Hasta mañana¡ (See you tomorrow!)

¡Hasta el lunes¡ (See you on Monday!)

¡Nos vemos¡ (See you!)

 

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! (Long time no see!)

¡Cuánto tiempo sin verte! (Long time no see! – alternative)

¡Qué alegría verte! (How nice to see you!)

¡No me lo puedo creer! (I can’t believe it!)

¿Qué cuentas? (Literally: “What do you tell?”, asking for news)

¿Qué hay de nuevo? (What’s new?)

 

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 John. (I’m John.)

Soy de Inglaterra. (I’m from England.)

Soy inglés. (I’m English.)

Vivo en Australia. (I live in Australia.)

Tengo 27 años. (Literally “I have 27 years”.)

Soy casado(a). (I’m married.)

Soy soltero(a). (I’m single.)

 

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. (I’m a yoga teacher.)

Soy estudiante. (I’m a student.)

Estoy jubilado/retirado. (I’m retired.)

Estudio historia. (I study history – for example, as a degree.)

Estoy estudiando español. (I’m studying Spanish – temporary, doing it right now).

Trabajo aquí. (I work here.)

Trabajo a tiempo parcial. (I work part-time.)

Estoy buscando trabajo. (I’m looking for a job.)

 

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? (What’s your name?)

¿De dónde es? (Where are you from?)

¿Dónde vives? (Where do you live?)

¿Cuáles son tus pasatiempos? (What are your hobbies?)

¿A qué te dedicas? (What do you dedicate yourself to – what’s your job?)

¿Cuál es tu trabajo/ocupación? (What’s your job/occupation?)

 

Explaining why you’re learning Spanish

The keywords for this topic are por qué (why) and porque (because). 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. (Because I love Spanish culture.)

Porque mi compañero(a)/pareja es venezolano. (Because my partner is Venezuelan.)

Porque mis abuelos eran mexicanos. (Because my grandparents were Mexican.)

Porque quiero entender la música en español. (Because I want to understand music in Spanish.)

 

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. (I only speak a little bit.)

Entiendo bien el español. (I understand Spanish well.)

Me cuesta hablar con fluidez. (It’s hard for me to speak fluently.)

Puedo escribir/leer/hablar muy bien. (I can write/read/speak very well.)

Todavía tengo que hablar despacio. (I still have to speak slowly.)

Prefiero hablar que escribir. (I prefer talking than writing.)

Soy principiante. (I’m a beginner.)

 

Geeking out in Spanish about your hobbies and interests

It’s time to 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. (I like listening to music.)

Me gustan las series de terror. (I like horror series.)

Uno de mis pasatiempos es escribir. (One of my hobbies is writing.)

Me encanta el cine español. (I love Spanish cinema.)

Me encantan los libros de fantasía. (I love fantasy books.)

 

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? (Would you like to come with me?)

¿Te gustaría ir al cine mañana? (Would you like to go to the movies tomorrow?)

¿Quieres tomar un café? (Do you want to grab some coffee?)

¿Te gustaría salir conmigo? (Would you like to go out with me? – romantic undertones)

 

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 estresado(a). (I’m stressed out.)

Estoy triste. (I’m sad.)

Estoy muy nervioso(a). (I’m very nervous.)

¡Estoy feliz! (I’m happy!)

Estoy decepcionado. (I’m disappointed.)

Me siento mal. (I feel bad.)

Tengo miedo. (I’m scared.)

 

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 entiendo! (I don’t understand!)

No lo sé. (I don’t know.)

No tengo idea. (I have no idea.)

No tengo ni idea de qué hacer. (I have no clue what to do.)

Estoy perdido(a). (I’m lost.)

Estoy confundido(a). (I’m confused.)

No estoy seguro(a). (I’m not sure.)

¿Puede(s) hablar más despacio, por favor?” (Could you please speak slowly? – add the “s” to make it informal)

 

Congratulating or wishing 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?

¡Feliz cumpleaños! (Happy birthday!)

¡Feliz cumple! (A shorter, more casual way of saying happy birthday)

¡Felicitaciones! (Congratulations!)

¡Felicidades! (Literally “Happinesses!”)

¡Disfruta! / ¡Disfrutad! (Enjoy! The first option is used when talking to one person, the second one to a couple or group)

¡Que te vaya bien! (I hope things go well for you!)

¡Buen viaje! (Have a nice trip!)

¡Buena suerte! (Good luck!)

 

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:

Muchas gracias! (Thanks a lot!)

¡Muchísimas gracias! (Thank you so much!)

Eres/Es muy amable. (It’s so kind of you. The first is informal, the second is a formal option.)

Estoy muy agradecido(a). (I’m really thankful.)

Te lo agradezco. (I thank you for that.)

 

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 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.

¡Perdón! (Pardon, excuse me, sorry.)

Disculpe(a). (Sorry. – Use the letter “a” instead of “e” to make it informal)

Lo siento. (I’m sorry.)

Lo siento mucho/muchíssimo. (I’m so sorry.)

Me equivoqué. (I was wrong.)

No volverá a ocurrir. (It won’t happen again.)

 

Ordering food and drinks in a Spanish-speaking country

A-ha!

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? (Can you bring us the menu, please?)

¿Qué me/nos recomienda? (What do you recommend me/us?)

Voy a tomar un té, gracias. (I’ll take a tea, thanks.)

Para mí, las enchiladas. (I’ll have the enchiladas.)

Tenéis pulpo a la gallega? (Do you have octopus a la gallega?)

¿Nos puede traer la cuenta? (Can you bring us the check?)

 

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. (You’ve arrived late, so I decided to go to the concert alone.)

¿Así que estás pensando viajar mañana? (So you’re thinking of traveling tomorrow?)

No tenéis paella? Pues, entonces un bocadillo. (You don’t have paella? Well, then a sandwhich.)

Pues…no sé qué hacer. (Well…I don’t know what to do.)

A ver. Que quieres hacer hoy? (Let’s see. What do you want to do today?)

No quiero ir con él. Es que me siento mal por lo que pasó. (I don’t want to go with him. It’s just that I feel bad about what happened.)

 

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?

Comment below!

Comments

House Rules: I love comments and feedback (positive and negative) but I have my limits. You're in my home here so act accordingly. No advertising. Links will be automatically flagged for moderation.

Got something to share?

Love languages?
JOIN THE GUILD:

Or take a look at my Essential Language Learning Tools.

AS SEEN IN:

BBC