When you learn Spanish, you’ll naturally spend a lot of time focusing on Spanish grammar and Spanish vocabulary. A lot of the process of learning Spanish vocabulary involves committing lists of lone words and their translations to memory. And these individual words are, of course, important when you want to describe the world around you.
But so much of what makes the Spanish language rich and engaging are the many Spanish phrases that add flavor to the language, the ones you can’t necessarily get from a teacher or a textbook. Learning key Spanish phrases can take you out of the classroom and into actual conversations. Knowing what to say in real-life contexts when you’re introducing yourself, making new friends, making a purchase at a store or even finding your way around on your next vacation is often more important than knowing how to recite vocabulary lists or how use Spanish syntax effectively (though all these elements play a part in mastering Spanish in their own ways).
When you learn Spanish phrases, you also get a window into the idiomatic and slang Spanish phrases that take on a colorful meaning all of their own, one more vibrant than the sum of the individual words that make them up. These Spanish slang phrases make Spanish language learning all the more fun!
How To Learn Spanish Phrases
There’s no wrong way to learn and practice Spanish phrases, and it all depends on your learning style and preferences. When it comes to learning individual Spanish vocabulary words, many people like to use Spanish flashcards or the sticky note method. But these learning techniques might work better for long lists of vocab, not necessarily for long phrases made of many words or without one-to-one translations.
If you really want to learn how Spanish phrases are used in different contexts, spending time interacting with Spanish media is a great way to do just that. Spanish TV shows and Spanish movies feature dialogue that’s full of the types of Spanish phrases and expressions you’d hear in real-life contexts, so your exposure to Spanish is richer than what you’d get from a textbook. The same goes for Spanish podcasts, Spanish songs and Spanish YouTube videos — anything that lets you hear Spanish spoken by native speakers who are having real conversations.
And if you want to explore how Spanish phrases are used in writing, reading Spanish books is a fantastic way to build up your language skills, to see how authors use Spanish phrases in all sorts of genres and literary styles.
By and large, the best way to practice Spanish phrases is by having real Spanish conversations, either with native speakers or with a teacher or tutor who can give you real-time feedback. To know the Spanish that’s spoken in the world, you’ve got to get out into the world and practice!
Essential Conversational Spanish Phrases
When you have conversations in Spanish (and isn’t that the goal of learning a new language?), you’re going to rely on a handful of conversational Spanish phrases that will become like second nature to you. They’ll become your go-to Spanish phrases in many situations, so they’re important to master from the beginning of your Spanish journey. From “Hello!” to “How are you?” to “Where’s the bathroom?” and everything in between, here’s our list of essential Spanish phrases for conversation.
Spanish Phrases For Travel
When you explore the Spanish-speaking world, you’ll need a repertoire of Spanish travel phrases, whether you’re using them to ask for directions, order at a bar or make that connection at the train station.
- Voy a pedir una chela. — I’m going to order a beer.
- ¿Se puede tomar agua de la llave? — Is it ok to drink the tap water?
- ¿Puedo pagar con tarjeta? — Can I pay with (a credit) card?
- La cuenta, por favor. — Check, please.
- Estoy perdido/a. — I am lost.
- ¿Cómo llego a __ [Hotel Milenio]? — How do I get to __ [Hotel Milenio]?
- Gira a la izquierda/derecha. — Turn left/right.
- Vamos en camión. — Let’s take the bus.
- ¿Me podrías recomendar un restaurante? — Do you have any restaurant recommendations?
- ¿Puedo usar tu cargador del móvil? — Can I use your phone charger?
- Busco un hotel. — I am looking for a hotel.*
- ¿Dónde hay un supermercado? — ¿Where is there a supermarket?
- ¡Disculpe! Soy turista y estoy perdido (m.) / perdida (f.). — Excuse me! I am a tourist and I am lost.
- ¿Cuánto cuesta un billete al aeropuerto? — How much is a ticket to the airport?
- ¿A qué hora sale el tren? — What time does the train leave?
Learn more about Spanish travel and transportation vocabulary and expressions, and learn the most important Spanish phrases for travel when you’re navigating a new Spanish-speaking place — whether it’s Spanish phrases for a vacation to Mexico, Spain or beyond.
Slang Spanish Phrases And Spanish Idioms (That Native Spanish Speakers Actually Use)
To sound like an authentic Spanish speaker, you’ve got to know the Spanish phrases the real hispanohablantes actually use. Here’s a selected list of some quirky, eccentric and wonderful Spanish slang phrases and expressions that will make you sound like a native Spanish speaker.
- mucha mierda — break a leg (literally, “a lot of crap”)
- ponerse las pilas — to get cracking or put one’s skates on (literally, “put batteries on”)
- hablar por los codos — to be a chatterbox (literally, “to talk through the elbows”)
- estar piripi — to be tipsy
- echar una mano — to help someone out (literally, “to throw a hand”)
- dejar plantado / dar plantón — to stand someone up (literally, “to plant” or “to seed” someone)
- en un abrir y cerrar de ojos — in the blink of an eye (literally, “in an opening and closing of eyes”)
- la gota que colmó el vaso — the straw that break the camel’s back (literally, “the drop that over-filled the glass”)
- Llueve sobre mojado. — to beat a dead horse (literally, “it rains over a wet surface”)
- Otro gallo cantaría. — Things could have been different. (literally, “another rooster would sing”)
- Somos uña y carne. — to be hand in glove with someone (literally, “we are nail and flesh”)
- ¿Me lo dices o me lo cuentas? — Tell me something I don’t know. (literally, “Are you telling me or are you narrating it to me?”)
- ¡Déjame en paz! — Leave me alone! (literally, “Leave me in peace!”)
- hacer una bomba de humo — to leave without saying goodbye (literally, “to do a smoke bomb”)
- hacer algo en cero coma — to do something really fast (literally, “to do something in zero comma”)
- hacer la 13-14 — to trick someone (literally, “to do the thirteen-fourteen”)
- tener salero — to be vivid; to have charm and grace (literally, “to have a salt shaker”)
- Nos tomamos la penúltima y nos vamos. — to have one drink… after another (literally, “We drink the penultimate, and then we leave.”)
Learn Spanish Phrases With Babbel
When it comes to teaching you the most important Spanish phrases you’ll need for real-life conversations — and making sure they stick — Babbel has you covered.
Babbel is designed by more than 150 linguists and language experts whose goal is to get you speaking Spanish in real conversations with confidence. Our interactive lessons cover all the aspects of learning Spanish — reading, writing, listening, and speaking — with multimedia content to train your ears and eyes. Our speech recognition feature even helps you hone your pronunciation, too.
In addition to the vocabulary and grammar you’ll need to know to speak Spanish, Babbel places an emphasis on teaching you Spanish phrases that you’ll hear and use in the Spanish-speaking world outside of the classroom. Almost all Babbel Spanish lessons feature a real-life dialogue to help you put the Spanish phrases you’re learning into practice in actual conversations.
With Babbel, you can pick and choose the topics and themes that are most relevant to you. Taking a trip soon? Brush up on the Spanish phrases you’ll need for travel and navigating new places. Need to sharpen your Spanish for an upcoming business meeting? Our courses have you taken care of.
Try a free Spanish lesson with Babbel and see for yourself how quickly you’ll be on your way to speaking Spanish with confidence — like you’ve always wanted to!