These are a few key words and expressions that have come in very handy while travelling. Try to learn these -or the ones that most apply to your situation- when visiting any of the many Spanish-speaking countries. The locals will certainly appreciate the effort.
|The bare minimum|
|I don't know||No sé|
|I don't understand||No entiendo|
|I don't speak Spanish||No hablo español|
|Do you speak English?||Habla inglés?|
|Good to know|
|Sir, Madam, Miss||Señor, Señora, Señorita|
|Where is... / Where can I find...||Dónde está... / Dónde puedo encontrar...|
|The entrance, the exit||La entrada, la salida|
|The restroom/toilet||El baño|
|The train station, the bus stop||La estación de tren, la parada de autobús|
|Something to eat, to drink||Algo de comer, beber|
|How much does it cost?||Cuánto cuesta?|
|Please, can you help me||Por favor, me puede ayudar?|
|I need (medical) help||Necesito ayuda (médica)|
|My name is||Me llamo|
|What is your name?||(Usted) Cómo se llama? (formal), (Tú) Cómo te llamas? (informal)|
|How are you?||Cómo está? (formal), Cómo estás? (informal)|
|(I'm) good||(Estoy) bien|
|And you?||Y usted? (formal), Y tú? (informal)|
|I'm sorry||Lo siento|
As a general rule, use the formal form to address a stranger, a person older than yourself, of high status (or higher than your own), or someone serving you (receptionist, doorman, taxi driver…) The phrases above are formal/neutral by default, unless stated otherwise.
Keep in mind that when you’ve just arrived in a country, no one really expects you to know all the rules. Do your best, and if someone complains just apologize and move on. When you are short on words show respect in the way that you act instead.
Another useful tool, if you have a smartphone and an internet connection, is to use a translation app such as Google Translate. Some languages can be downloaded in advance to use in offline mode.
Image: The Farmers' Lunch (1618) by Diego Velázquez