Latin America is the second fastest growing tourism market in the world with growth pacing at about 6.5% per year. With that staggering growth in place, odds are that if you travel often, you’ll probably end up flying to a Latin American country sooner or later.
There’s only one problem with that scenario… Latin America speaks Spanish and chances are you don’t.
You certainly don’t have to speak the native language to feel your way around a new country. Heck, people on our staff have done just fine by communicating via outstanding charades skills.
Still, if you want to get the most out of your travels, it pays to know basic Spanish phrases.
Below, our team rattles off a rapid-fire list of Spanish phrases musts that you should consider committing to memory!
1. “Hola” (Hello)
At the center of all Spanish phrases worth knowing is one tiny word… “Hola”.
Hola means hello and it’s how you’ll start most of your conversations in Spanish speaking countries. If you forgo “hola” and instead choose to greet someone with “hello” abroad, you may get pegged as a tourist that’s making no effort.
2. “Buenos dias” (Good morning)
Another staple Spanish phrase services like My Daily Spanish (which you can read more here about) teach frequently is “buenos dias”.
Buenos dias means good morning. You’ll have to greet more than a few restaurants during breakfast time leveraging that phrase while on the road.
3. “Beunas noches” (Good evening)
Our team has used “buenas noches” a lot less often than “buenos dias”. Still, saying good evening to people as a parting phrase comes in handy every now and then.
Another related phrase that doesn’t get a ton of use is “beunas tardes” which means good afternoon.
4. “Como está” (How are you)
If you’re going to try to make a conversational effort with Spanish speaking natives while strolling through Punta Cana, you’re going to need to ask them how they’re doing. Just think how often you ask people how they’re doing in your native country!
Typically, a brief conversation that opens with “Como está?” will get the response, “Bien, y tu?” (good and you?).
To that, you can say, “You estoy bien.” (I am good).
5. “Gracias” (Thank you)
Travel through Latin America without knowing how to tell people “thank you” and you’re not going to be a very popular tourist.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard the word “gracias” used when listening to Spanish phrases.
You’d do well to remember it during your travels.
6. “No hablo mucho Español” (I do not speak much Spanish)
Depending on how you look, locals abroad may mistake you for a local as well. It’s certainly not likely given that you’ll probably be sporting pounds of sunscreen and a fanny pack, but it could happen.
In those cases, a local might come up to you and start striking up a conversation in Spanish… Chances are you won’t know what the heck they’re saying.
When that happens you can use the phrase, “No hablo mucho Español.” That will let the friendly stranger know that you’re not equipped to carry on the conversation.
7. “Perdón” (Sorry)
You might spend a lot of time apologizing while traveling.
Maybe it’ll be because you misunderstood directions. Maybe it’ll be because you committed a cultural faux pas.
Whatever the reason is, you’ll be glad you know the word to say to beg Spanish speaker’s forgiveness – “perdón”.
Perdon is a nifty word that you can hook onto some of the other Spanish phrases we’ve listed as well. For example:
“Perdón. No hablo mucho Español.”
8. “Donde está” (Where is…)
If you’re in a new place, you’ll probably find yourself lost from time to time. While Google Maps should be able to help in those instances, you’ll be glad to know the buzzwords that can get you help from locals if needed.
Saying, “donde está” and following it up with the name of a restaurant or hotel may be enough to get you pointed in the right direction.
9. “Cuánto cuesta” (How much is it)
No trip anywhere is complete without buying a bunch of stuff you don’t need! Beer, souvenirs, fun hats, etc.
The only issue is that in a lot of countries, especially in open-air markets, prices for items are not listed. That means that you’ll have to ask how much something is before you buy it.
Saying “cuánto cuesta” while holding up the item you’re interested in will be enough to get you the answer you’re looking for.
10. “Donde está el baño” (Where is the bathroom)
When you travel to different places, the way they prep their food can wreak havoc on your delicate, foreign stomach. That havoc may leave you running to the toilet on more than one occasion.
If ever you’re in a rush to get to a restroom and don’t know where to find one, you’ll be glad that you remembered this term above all other Spanish phrases, “Donde está el baño?”
Wrapping Up Spanish Phrases You Cannot Get Through Spanish Countries Without
If you’re looking to travel to Spanish speaking counties, knowing a handful of Spanish phrases by heart can make your trip easier and will endear locals.
We recommend starting with the phrases that we’ve listed above. Then, continue your Spanish education beyond our list with other learning resources.
By practicing Spanish phrases for 15 minutes or so every day, you’ll find yourself sounding fluent in no time!
Looking for more awesome content on travel? If yes, be sure to browse more of our blog posts on “For Upon” today!