71 Common Spanish Phrases to Survive Your First Conversation with a Native
Do you want to learn Spanish?
Or perhaps you're planning a trip to a Spanish-speaking country?
In order to get started and have your first basic conversations in Spanish, you're going to need to learn some vocabulary!
In this post, you'll learn 71 common Spanish phrases. And to make it easier for you, I've divided the phrases up into the main sections that form the building blocks of conversation:
- Small Talk
- Being Polite
- Dealing with Problems
- Question Words
- Important Answers
- Special Occasions
- Saying Goodbye
Whether you're going to Mexico or Medellín chances are you'll find some of the locals can speak a bit of English. But if you speak some Spanish, you'll be able to have much more enjoyable and authentic experiences when you travel.
Having a few common Spanish phrases up your sleeve when you're starting out in the language allows you to experience local culture and hospitality in a completely different way.
You never know, maybe learning these phrases will motivate you to learn Spanish to fluency!
To make it as easy as possible for you to practice these phrases in your Spanish conversations, I've created a special PDF version of this article with all the phrases that you can print off or save on your phone to use read it anywhere, anytime, when you encounter Spanish speakers.
Common Spanish Phrases Cheatsheet
For a quick overview of these basic Spanish phrases, check out the cheatsheet below. Consider this you own visual Spanish phrasebook.
But make sure you read the rest of the post though for details on the pronunciation of these Spanish phrases, including audio for the tricky words and sounds. And one or two other bonus bits of information about Spanish language and culture.
Understanding what you should say when you meet and greet people is the least you can do if you want to make a good impression.
After all, you're going to be using greetings every time you have a conversation in Spanish!
These phrases are simple, easy to remember and will go a long way to help you make friends and have your first conversations in the language.
- #1 ¡Hola! – Hello
- #2 ¡Buenos días! – Good morning!
- #3 ¡Buenas tardes! – Good evening!
- #4 ¡Bienvenido! – Welcome!
I've included tips for pronouncing each phrase in brackets, but it's always best to listen to how native speakers talk if you really want to master pronunciation.
If you're confused about how to pronounce any of these phrases, you can look them up on Forvo (an online pronunciation dictionary) and hear them spoken by native speakers.
Keeping The Conversation Going: Small Talk In Spanish
Making small talk is something you’re going to do a lot of. So there’s every reason to know how to do it properly.
Besides, small talk is the gateway to real communication; you need to be able to do it in order to really speak to a person.
Making small talk is not something most of us enjoy in our own language, so doing it in a foreign language can be a bit daunting. But trust me, being able to engage in small talk will allow you to get a conversation started.
Making conversation in whatever way you can as a beginner will allow you to grow in confidence and figure out what you need to learn next in Spanish.
Here are some phrases you can use to get the conversation going:
- #5 ¿Cómo estás? – How are you?
- #6 ¿Cómo te va? – How’s it going?
- #7 ¿Cómo te ha ido? – How’ve you been?
- #8 Estoy bien ¡Gracias! – I’m fine, thanks
- (eh-STOY bee-en GRA-thee-as/GRA-see-as)
- #9 ¿Y tú? – And you?
- #10 Bien/ Así así. – Good/ So-so
- #11 ¿Qué tal? – How are you?
- #12 ¿Qué pasa? – What’s happening?
- #13 ¿Qué haces? – What are you doing?
Did you notice anything strange about the pronunciation of the phrase ¿Cómo te va?
The ‘v' in va is pronounced almost like a ‘b'.
In English, the letter's ‘b' and ‘v' represent different sounds, but in Spanish, they represent the same sound.
This sound is different from anything we have in English. It's like a B, but softer. Listen to how I pronounce the word ¡Vale! (‘ok') in this recording to see how it sounds:
To find out more, check out my complete guide to the difference between ‘b' and ‘v' in Spanish.
Being Polite In Spanish
Of course, no matter what language you're speaking, politeness goes a long way. Whether you need to make an apology or just want to thank someone, you're going to use these phrases a lot!:
- #14 ¡Gracias! – Thank you!
- #15 Por favor – Please
- #16 ¡De nada! – You’re welcome!
- #17 ¡Perdone! / ¡Oiga! – Excuse me (to ask for something)!
- #18 ¡Perdone! / Disculpe! – Excuse me (to get past)!
- (per-DON-ay/ dis-KUL-pay)
- #19 ¡Disculpe! – Sorry!
- (if you didn’t hear something) (dis-KUL-pay)
- #20 ¡Lo siento! – Sorry! (for a mistake)
Dealing With Problems In Spanish
Of course, not every conversation or language exchange will go smoothly.
What should you do when you don't understand something? Or if you need to ask someone for help?
It's important to know some basic Spanish phrases you can use for dealing with problems when they arise. If you need someone to speak more slowly or to repeat something, the best thing to do is just ask them!
- #22 ¿Podría ayudarle? – Can I help you?
- (poh-DREE-a ay-oo-DAR-le)
- #22 ¿Puede ayudarme? – Can you help me?
- #23 ¡Sin problema! – No problem!
- #24 ¡Puede repetirlo! – Can you say that again?
- #25 No entiendo – I don’t understand!
- #26 No (lo) sé – I don’t know!
- #27 No tengo ni idea – I have no idea!
- (no TEN-go nee ee-DAY-ah)
- #28 No hablo español – I don't speak Spanish
- #29 Estoy perdido – I’m lost
- #30 ¿Qué significa …? – What does … mean?
- #31 Mi español es malo – My Spanish is bad
- #32 ¿Puedes hablar más despacio? – Can you speak more slowly?
- (PWE-des ab-LAR mas des-PATH-ee-o)
The word despacio in the last phrase is interesting.Notice that the ‘c' is pronounced like ‘th' in this context.
This is the traditional Spanish pronunciation used in Spain. However, in Latin America, people pronounced the ‘c' as an ‘s' sound (e.g. des-PAS-ee-o).
Curious about this and other variations in Spanish in the world? This guide explains the 3 key differences in Spanish varieties that you'll hear in different countries and regions.
Question Words In Spanish
Conversation is a two-way street. So if you want to really connect with people, you need to be able to ask questions. Here are the Spanish question words you need to know:
- ¿qué…? – what?
- ¿cómo…? – how?
- ¿cuándo…? – when?
- ¿dónde…? – where?
- ¿quién…? – who?
- ¿por qué…? – why?
- ¿cuál? – which?
It's a good idea to just memorise these words right away. You're going to come across them again and again so it's important you're comfortable with them.
Pro tip: Question words are always written with an accent and with opening/closing question marks.
There are lots of questions which we use regularly in everyday conversation but we often don’t realise how important they are.
Not having them in your repertoire will leave you tongue-tied and at a loss in many situations.
Here are some examples of questions that are useful to know:
- #33 ¿Como te llamas? – What is your name?
- #34 ¿Qué hora tienes? – What time is it?
- #35 ¿Dónde puedo comprar…? – Where can I buy…?
- (DON-day pway-DO kom-PRAR)
- #36 ¿Cuántos años tienes? – How old are you?
- (KWAN-tos AN-yos tee-EN-es)
- #37 ¿De dónde viene? – Where are you from?
- #38 ¿Dónde vives? – Where do you live?
- #39 ¿Tienes hermanos o hermanas? – Do you have brothers or sisters?
- (tee-EN-es er-MA-nos o er-MA-nas)
- #40 ¿Cuánto cuesta eso? – How much is that?
- #41 ¿Qué es esto? – What is this?
- #42 ¿Entiende? – Do you understand?
- #43 ¿Comprende? – Do you understand?
- #44 ¿Hablas inglés? – Do you speak English?
- #45 ¿Dónde está el baño? – Where is the bathroom?
- (DON-day es-TAH el BAN-yo)
Talking About Yourself & Answering Questions In Spanish
Learning how to ask questions in Spanish is all good and well. But if you're dealing with questions, you need to be able to deal with answers too!
Here's how you can respond to some of the questions above:
- #46 Me llamo… – My name is…
- #47 Mi nombre es… – My name is
- #48 (Yo) tengo … años – I am … years old.
- #49 (Yo) soy de… – I come from ….
- #50 Sí – Yes
- #51 No – No
- #52 Tal vez – Maybe
- #53 Siempre – Always
- #54 Nunca – Never
- #55 A veces – Sometimes
- #56 Claro – Of course
Spanish Expressions For Special Occasions
There are a number of common expressions that are used regularly to denote special circumstances or for special occasions.
These phrases are ideal for events like birthdays, meals with friends or even for ending the conversation:
- #57 ¡Diviértete! – Have fun!
- #58 ¡Buen viaje! – Have a good trip!
- #59 ¡Buen provecho! – Bon appetit!
- #60 ¡Muy bien! – Well done!
- #61 ¡Cuídate! – Take care!
- #62 ¡Felicitaciones! – Congratulations!
- #63 ¡Bienvenidos! / ¡Bienvenidas! – Welcome!
- (bee-en-ven-EE-dos / bee-en-ven-EE-das)
- #64 ¡Feliz Cumpleaños! – Happy Birthday!
- (fe-LEES kump-lay-AN-yos)
- #65 Salud! – Cheers!
Saying Goodbye In Spanish
Saying goodbye is never easy, especially in a foreign language when you don’t know how to do it!
Whether you are bidding farewell to friends you're going to see later or to somebody you'll never see again, make sure you know how to say your goodbyes appropriately.
In any case, Spanish has lots of different options:
- #66 Adiós – Goodbye
- #67 ¡Buenas noches! – Goodnight!
- #68 ¡Hasta luego! – See you later
- #69 ¡Hasta pronto! – See you soon
- #70 ¡Hasta mañana! – See you tomorrow
- #71 Nos vemos – See you
Your Next Steps In Spanish
So there you have it: everyday common Spanish phrases to help you get started on your Spanish learning journey.
With these phrases in your back pocket, you'll soon find yourself having your first basic conversations and looking forward to getting fluent in Spanish!
So now that you've learned the basics, are you ready to take the next step on your Spanish journey?
I'm a big believer in the power of story to enable you to learn a language. That's why I've created an entire beginner course dedicated to learning Spanish by immersing yourself in an engaging story.
It's my Spanish Uncovered course, and it's designed to take you from beginner to B1 Intermediate level.
Click here for more information on the course and how it'll help you.
I’ve created a special PDF version of these phrases which you can download and refer to any time you need it! And if you download the PDF, I’ll send you even more tips to help you as you continue learning Spanish.
Click here to download the PDF version of the article and receive more great language learning tips for free.
How many of these phrases did you know already? Which new phrases do you think will be most useful for you in your conversations? Let me know in the comments below.