Phrasebook: Basic Spanish for travel


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.

This little phrasebook is also available in French and in Italian.

The bare minimum
Hello Hola
Goodbye Adiós
Thank you Gracias
OK Está bien
Everyday basics
Yes
No No
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
Excuse-me Disculpe
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)
I am Soy
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.

Have fun!

Image: The Farmers' Lunch (1618) by Diego Velázquez

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Written by xim

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