Essential Spanish Phrases

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by miguelito, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. miguelito

    miguelito Been here awhile

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    A buddy of mine is planning a trip to Copper Canyon, MX, and asked if anyone had a Rosetta Stone set which he could use to learn Spanish. If you don't speak the language, you'll have trouble understanding the responses you get to your questions, whether they're understood by the listener or not. Still, if you can communicate the correct question, the probability of a satisfactory outcome will be enhanced. As such I wrote up a list of phrases for him that should get him through just about any of the day to day interactions he will need to accomplish, such as greeting folks, ordering food, finding a hotel, and getting gas or service for his motorcycle. Here it is for those of you planning on heading south,and with little knowledge of Espanol:



    I've always thought that learning a bit of the language of the country one is traveling in is the most sincere form of respect you can give to the foreigners you will be interacting with. It is pretty sad when we are reduced to grunting and pointing to what we want, or where we want to go, or what we would like to eat. Yet, I can pretty much guarantee you that you will be so reduced at one or more times in your life as a viajero. This post is written for those of you who have little or no knowledge of the Spanish language and who plan to visit Spanish speaking countries. It is a list of just some of the most basic phrases you may benefit from knowing when traveling in Hispanic countries and should demonstrate your respect for the culture you are visiting, if nothing else.


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    I'm not teaching numbers or days of the week or much of anything other than some basic questions and salutations. I have not included pronunciations for the Spanish translation. For that, I would suggest you go to http://www.spanishdict.com/translation and copy and paste the phrase. There are audio recordings for whatever phrase you enter there which will give you the basic idea for Spanish pronunciation. Doing that step of this program is essential to your success with these phrases. If you don't understand the pronunciations of the words, you might just confuse your Spanish-speaking counterpart even more. I remember asking directions of a person in Arkansas one time, and I could barely decipher her English due to her strong accent. So learn some of the pronunciation!


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    I also haven't included some of the standard phrases that portend tragedy while traveling, such as “Where is the hospital?” or “I need the police!”. Let's face it, if you need a hospital, the person you're speaking to will likely understand “hospital” in English, (they're very similar in pronunciation), and when was the last time you actually needed a policeman?.


    Ok, granted this might not be everything you hoped for, but at least you will know how to ask some basic questions which might help you communicate a bit. At a minimum, hopefully your Spanish-speaking counterpart will know what you want, and even though s/he may not speak English, s/he may be able to point your sorry ass in the right direction.


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    THE PHRASES


    1. Do you speak English? Habla usted Ingles?, (This one's not really essential, as you will know within a few moments whether the person you're speaking to speaks English regardless of whether you asked this question in Spanish or English. It does however, serve to let the person know a bit more about you. Still, I include it here just for the sense of irony I get from doing so. :)
    2. Hello! Hola!
    3. Good day! (the common greeting before noon) Buenos Dias! (Sometimes just: Buenos!)
    4. Good Afternoon! Buenas tardes!
    5. Good night. Buenas noches.
    6. Goodbye! Adios!
    7. See you later! Hasta Lluego ( literally: Until later!) or Nos Vemos! (we'll be seeing you!)
    8. Thanks! Gracias! Thanks a lot! Muchas gracias!
    9. You're welcome. De nada/por nada.
    10. Nice to meet you! Mucho gusto!
    11. Same here! Igualmente!
    12. With pleasure. Con gusto/mi placer
    13. Cheers! Saludos!
    14. Enjoy! (often said when people are eating) Provecho! The response would be: Muchas gracias!
    15. Excuse me Disculpe, Pardon me. Perdoname or Perdon
    16. I'm sorry. Lo siento. (something you'd say to someone who's mother or friend just died).
    17. Where is the bathroom? Donde esta el bano?
    18. How much does that/it cost? Cuanto cuesta?
    19. What do you have to eat? Que tiene usted que comer?
    20. I would like a beer/glass of red wine/glass of white wine. Quisiera una cerveza/copa de vino tinto/copa de vino blanco.
    21. I would like a bottle of water. Quisiera una botella de agua.
    22. What is this/that? Que es esto/eso?
    23. Can I have the check please? La Cuenta por favor. Literally: Puedo tener la cuenta por favor?
    24. This is incorrect. Esto es incorrecto.
    25. Do you know where there is a hotel near hear? ¿Sabe usted dónde hay un hotel cerca de aqui?
    26. Do you have a room [available] for the night? Tienes una habitacion [disponible] para la noche?
    27. Do you have something less expensive? Tienes algo mas economico?Tienes algo menos caro?
    28. Do you have parking? Hay estacionmiento?
    29. Fill 'er up please! Lleno por favor! (At the gas station). pronounced: Yay-no.
    30. Can you check the tires? Puedes comprobar las Llantas?
    31. Do you know where I can find a mechanic? ¿Sabes donde puedo encontrar un mecánico?
    32. Do you know the road to ___________? Sabes el camino a _________
    33. Which direction is_________? En que dirreccion es ________?
    34. How far is it to _______? Sabes cuantos kilometros a ________? (literally: Do you know how many kilometers to ______?) You could just say: Cuantos kilometros a _____?
    35. Where are you going? A donde vas? (You'll possibly be asked this at military checkpoints)
    36. I/we are going to _____. Voy/vamos a ________.
    37. Where are you coming from? De donde vienes? (You'll possibly be asked this at military checkpoints)
    38. I/We are coming from_______. Vengo de_____./Venimos de_______.
    39. Can you help me? Me puedes ayudar. Puedes ayudarme?
    40. I live in the United States. Vivo en los estados Unidos.
    41. I prefer it here in Mexico! Prefiero aqui en Mexico.
    42. Left/right/straight - izquierda/derecha/derecho


    I tried to keep this simple, so remember that this is just the start of your introduction to the Spanish language, and as your vocabulary grows, so will the opportunities and the richness of your interactions with Spanish speakers. If anyone wants to add their own phrases, please do so in the comments.

    Originally posted at: Miguelitoh2o's Posterous

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    #1
  2. TeeVee

    TeeVee His mudda was a mudda!

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    you forgot some of the most important ones...like, "cono chica! que bonita te vez! :evil
    #2
  3. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

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    Wow, great shot! :eek1
    #3
  4. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    Donde
    That's the very best one-word to know. All of the rest are simply extras.
    You can go/get everywhere with it....:D
    #4
  5. Max Buffet

    Max Buffet Been here awhile

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    The Dad of a high school buddy of mine owned a steamship company. He knew 3 phrases in about 10 languages that he said was all you needed:
    1) Hello.
    2) I love you.
    3) Give me a kiss.

    :lol3
    #5
  6. miguelito

    miguelito Been here awhile

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    No doubt! I can't take credit for it however. That belongs to my friend Margo.
    #6
  7. miguelito

    miguelito Been here awhile

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    Ok, that's Hola, te quiero/te amo, and besame. :wink:
    #7
  8. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

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    Give Margo my congrats. That is a great shot of SMA and very tastefully done HDR.

    Oh, great spanish phrases too. :D
    #8
  9. Max Buffet

    Max Buffet Been here awhile

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    Yup, I knew that.
    And it works...
    <blush>
    :D
    #9
  10. miguelitro

    miguelitro Chuchaqui

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    no mames/dont f^ck around
    :evil
    #10
  11. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    In the same vein, Mexican Spanish much more so than most other countries' Spanish it seems, has a very lively, flavorful, and frequent use of profanity. It's very common and accepted, as in you can hear grandmothers telling each other to go fuck themselves. Plenty of these words are VERY common place in Mexican spanish, but would easily piss people off in many other countries so tread lightly.

    You will probably hear these, but should use discretion when using them:

    No me chinges! Don't fuck around / Don't fuck with me / You gotta be fucking kidding (depending on context)

    Apurate, guey! Hurry up, man!

    Muevete! Move (yourself)!

    Callate! Shut up!

    Vete a la chingada! Go to hell / Go fuck yourself!
    #11
  12. Misery Goat

    Misery Goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

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    don't forget "No fumar Espanol." :lol3
    #12
  13. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Very true, all over the world.
    #13
  14. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    I wont bore you with details of my mostly failed attempt to learn Spanish via immersion & a school in Oaxaca (good school/very fun stay/too old I think!) but the one I have the most trouble with is FOOD! I have several Spanish books,dictionaries & have done searches before to try for a concise "carry list" to use in a restaurant for supper meal, to no avail . I know some but not all I need. I always see lots of words that just aren't the ones you need to ask or order food. We cook Mexican food @ home often, as in real often but I still see menus with lots of unknown words. In a touristy locale of course there's no problem. Help!
    P.S., I definitely don't need a list of beers...
    #14
  15. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    Last new word I learned down in Latin America was: dolor= pain:cry
    #15
  16. miguelito

    miguelito Been here awhile

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    My approach with menus which I don't really understand is first to ask what it is/how it's cooked, and if like you said, not having the language skills to interpret the response, I'll just pick one at random from the menu. That way next time you'll know what that particular offering is.


    That's a good one. I've been using it lately since I injured my lower back, (with a herniated disc). I've been asking the Pemex attendants if they would check the air in my tires, as I hurt my back = Puedes cheqeuer el aire en las llantas porque tengo mucho dolor en mi espalda.

    Apart from el crashmaestro's report, and slightly off-topic, more and more towns and restaurants here in Mexico are becoming non-smoking. Who'd a thunk it?
    #16
  17. rcroese

    rcroese Haarlem Globetrotter

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    When traveling through Latin America you will need the answers to three questions from the locals, including the police or at military checkpoints:
    ¿De dónde vienes? Where are you coming you from?
    ¿A dónde vas? Where are you going?
    ¿Cuánto vale la moto? How much does your motorcycle cost?
    :D
    #17
  18. MikeMike

    MikeMike Long timer

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    If you do any riding in Latin America it is a good idea to get a couple of stickers made up that say:

    En el caso de accidente no me quites el casco

    And put them on your helmet in conspicuous locations.

    A long time ago a Mexican insurance company used to give these away at bike shows down here.
    And yes, "quitar" is used correctly in this case. The verb "remove" can be expressed a couple of different ways but this is the conventional usage. There are a couple of ways you can phrase it, all will work, this one works fine throughout Latin America.

    A helluva lot more useful than some dumb gringo using the verb "chingar" at the wrong time with the wrong people in the wrong place. Having a handful of phrases and then telling someone "fuck off" in their language is going to get you laughed at. A lot. Stick to the useful stuff and learn the "verga" vernacular when you can actually communicate with someone.
    #18
  19. rcroese

    rcroese Haarlem Globetrotter

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    Amen, brother! I speak several languages and I have always believed that the substandard or more colorful vernacular should be left only to the native speakers. There is nothing worse than hearing a foreigner curse you (or trying to be funny) in your mother tongue.
    #19
  20. H96669

    H96669 A proud pragmatist.

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    You guys have to put "La izquierda" y "La derecha" in them useful phrases/words.:wink:
    #20