Early on in learning Spanish, it's not uncommon to sound stilted. A bit like a robot, even.
One common roadblock when you learn a language is figuring out how to go from the scripted phrases in language textbooks to fluid, authentic conversation.
Take a look at these two examples of something you might say in English:
Which example sounds more realistic?
The second one, right?
Both examples share the same information about you. But the second is much closer to something you would say or hear in a natural conversation.
Why? Thanks to something called “conversational connectors”
The connector words italicised above don't change the information conveyed. But they do make the conversation move along more smoothly.
You probably use conversational connectors in English without even thinking about it. Most native speakers do.
But what about Spanish conversational connectors ?
That's where today's post comes in.
By the end of this post, you will:
Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? But it really is that easy.
By the way, if you want fluent Spanish then check out the Fluent Spanish Academy, a library of material with audio and transcripts to help you get off the intermediate plateau.
The conversational connectors you will hear the most in Spanish are simple words that connect groups of words or phrases.
If you're familiar with grammar terminology in English, these words are known as “coordinating conjunctions”.
Simply put, coordinating conjunctions are words that join words, phrases, and clauses together.
Coordinating clauses are incredibly common in Spanish (and in English), so you probably know and use many of them already.
Check this list of the most common coordinating conjunctions in Spanish and see how many you currently use in most of your Spanish conversations:
These coordinating conjunctions are probably the first conversational connectors you mastered in Spanish.
Instead of, Voy a comprar zapatos. Voy a comprar una vestida (I will buy shoes. I will buy a dress), you learn to say, Voy a comprar zapatos y una vestida para la fiesta (I will buy shoes and a dress for the party).
These basic connectors are a great starting point, but you will want to learn a larger collection of conversational connectors in order to improve your fluency and communicate more like a native Spanish speaker.
I've broken down some of the most useful Spanish conversational connectors into four categories based on when they are used.
This should make it easier for you to notice opportunities to use them in your own conversations and immediately increase the depth of your conversational skill.
You can soften a disagreement or give a reason for your opinion with the following conversational connectors. The actual point of your statement does not change when you use them. But each one adds something to the tone of the conversation overall.
Whether you're supporting what has already been said, providing examples, or offering another point of view, these connectors can be tacked on to many sentences to sound more fluid and less robotic:
These words and phrases connect two events and put them in relation to each other. With just a simple one- or two-word addition, your stories will feel much more natural and make more sense:
Making use of these filler words may be the biggest step you can take to sounding more fluent right away.
Where you might use “um” or “like” in English, native Spanish speakers are far more likely to use one of the following:
Pay attention to both how the phrases are used and what they actually sound like when native speakers are using them.
Some of the expressions, like pues and bueno, are often drawn out and accompanied by pauses. Others, like primero que nada and por consiguiente are often used to make a point…and will be emphasised accordingly.
You'll soon find that just about any Spanish sentence can be enhanced and feel more natural with the inclusion of one—or more!—conversational connector.
If you're still unsure how to fit these connectors into your conversation, write down a few phrases that you hear in your Spanish studies each day. Underline or circle the connector.
Then, see how many times you can find that same conversational connector used in a different sentence. You might be surprised at how many you find.
You might be surprised at how easy it is to make your conversations sound more natural by learning just a few new connectors.
Conversational connectors will improve your Spanish fluency and help you sound more like a native speaker fast…
…without learning any more vocabulary or complex grammar.
In fact, using more conversational connectors is an easy way to “cheat” and sound like you know more Spanish than you actually do.
Take a look at the following examples of conversational connectors in action.
You'll notice that none of these sentences are particularly complex. But they do sound completely authentic.
All thanks to the connectors.
So many of the problems new Spanish learners encounter in conversations can be solved by mastering a few common connectors.
Do you have long pauses in your conversations while you try to remember how to say something specific in Spanish?
Do you sometimes say the wrong thing but don't notice until it's too late?
Have you ever wanted to contribute to a passionate discussion but felt like your short, simple sentence wouldn't be worth the effort?
With just a handful of Spanish conversational connectors, you can eliminate awkward pauses and sound more like a native speaker at your current skill level now…without needing to master the rest of the language first.
Do you agree that connectors are a convenient way to make your Spanish more fluent? Are you going to start using them in your own Spanish conversations? Let me know in the comments.