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Spanish Vocabulary

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Getting to know Spanish vocabulary is an essential part of learning the Spanish language.

woman learning spanish vocabulary

Along with Spanish grammar, Spanish vocabulary is the most important skill to know when you’re learning Spanish. After all, you can’t actually use a new language without knowing the words, expressions and phrases that make up that language! The more Spanish vocabulary you know, the more you’re able to talk about everything in your world — from what you do for work to your hobbies to your favorite colors and foods to the weather outside and everything in between.

Keep reading below to learn more about Spanish vocabulary, or click here to skip ahead to learn some of the most common Spanish vocabulary words to get you started with the Spanish language.

The Roots Of Spanish Vocabulary

Spanish is a part of the Romance language family, which means that it (along with Italian, French and Portuguese, among others) derived from Vulgar Latin, the variety of Latin variety by the commoners in the Roman Empire. That means if you know one Romance language (or if you’ve studied Latin), you’re bound to find plenty of words you recognize across the languages.

Over the past centuries, English has adopted many words from Latin and languages like French and Spanish that trace their roots to Latin. That means you’ll find countless cognates, or words that sound the same and have the same meaning across both languages, in both Spanish and English. You can probably figure out the English translations of words like el animal, la celebración or público without needing to consult a Spanish dictionary.

Did you know that the second largest influence on Spanish vocabulary after Latin comes from Arabic? Many nouns beginning with al- in Spanish, like la almohada (“the pillow”), la alfombra (“the rug”), or el algodón (“the cotton”) trace their origins back to the Arabic the Moors brought with them when they conquered the Iberian peninsula in the 8th century. In fact, there are about 4,000 modern Spanish words that come from Arabic, a lasting language legacy imprinted on the Spanish of today from centuries ago in history.

How Can I Improve My Spanish Vocabulary?

There’s no right or wrong way to practice Spanish vocabulary. The most important thing is that you find a way that works for you and helps you remember words and phrases when you need them most in conversation, writing or any other context.

Many people find it helpful to practice Spanish vocabulary with flashcards. The typical Spanish flashcard has an English word on one side and the Spanish translation on the other, but you can write anything on either side of the cards — from definitions to example sentences using the word you’re learning.

Online learning sites like Quizlet are great for studying Spanish vocabulary. When you use Quizlet Spanish flashcards or the platform’s other games and tools, you can boost your memory retention and word recall, hone your spelling skills and practice Spanish vocabulary in interactive, engaging ways.

Some people like to practice Spanish vocabulary in more real-world ways. You might have heard of the sticky note method, where learners write the Spanish word for items in their kitchens or living rooms on sticky notes, for example, and post them on those items to help them make the association with the Spanish vocabulary word each time they look at or use that item. You can expand the system to label nearly everything in your home and to put notes of words you want to learn where you’re sure to see them, like on your shower door or on your ceiling above your bed for extra practice. This can be a really helpful learning strategy for people who like to learn visually!

You can also recruit someone else to help you study Spanish vocabulary. Have a friend, roommate or partner quiz you on word definitions and translations from a list you prepare. If you’re both learning Spanish, challenge each other to review one list of vocabulary every day, and if one of you fails or falls behind, that friend owes the other a drink or a coffee, for example. Or point out different objects in your environment to each other and see who can name the most items in Spanish without consulting a dictionary or other resource. There are so many ways to practice Spanish vocabulary with another person, whether they’re learning Spanish or not!

The most effective way to remember Spanish vocabulary is to focus on the words and expressions that interest you the most instead of wasting time on vocabulary you find boring or will never actually use. You can tailor your Spanish vocabulary to your careers, hobbies, passions and everyday experiences and fill in the gaps where you want more words. This could include Spanish for business or the medical profession. Or perhaps you like talking about sports, the entertainment industry or politics. You can create your own specialized Spanish vocabulary depending on what’s important to you in your learning journey.

   

Most Common Spanish Vocabulary — Essential Spanish Vocabulary Words By Topic

Get started with the basics of Spanish vocabulary by checking out these themed lists of some of the most common Spanish vocabulary words and phrases below!

Common Spanish Phrases And Conversational Spanish Vocabulary

From saying hello to introducing yourself to asking for the bathroom, you’ll want to know how to make a conversation run smoothly — whether you’re on an international adventure or just chatting up your new Spanish-speaking neighbor. Here’s some essential conversational Spanish vocabulary to get you started.

 

 

Looking for more of the most common Spanish phrases and expressions for conversation? Click to learn more about common Spanish phrases and conversational Spanish vocabulary!

Colors In Spanish

Roses are rojas, violets are azules; mastering the colors in Spanish would make you the coolest! Here’s a quick guide to el arco iris (“the rainbow”) and the must-know Spanish color vocabulary.

  • red — rojo/a
  • orange — anaranjado/a
  • yellow — amarillo/a
  • green — verde
  • blue — azul
  • purple — morado/a
  • pink — rosa
  • brown — marrón
  • black — negro/a
  • white — blanco/a

Want to learn all the colors in Spanish? Click to learn more Spanish color vocabulary!

Numbers In Spanish

Learning numbers in Spanish will help you do everything from buying goods at the local supermarket to giving a cute stranger your phone number. It’s as easy as uno, dos, tres! Learn the basics of Spanish number vocabulary below:

  • zero — cero
  • one — uno
  • two — dos
  • three — tres
  • four — cuatro
  • five — cinco
  • six — seis
  • seven — siete
  • eight — ocho
  • nine — nueve

 

  • ten — diez
  • eleven — once
  • twelve — doce
  • thirteen — trece
  • fourteen — catorce
  • fifteen — quince
  • sixteen — dieciséis
  • seventeen — diecisiete
  • eighteen — dieciocho
  • nineteen — diecinueve

 

  • twenty — veinte
  • thirty — treinta
  • forty — cuarenta
  • fifty — cincuenta
  • sixty — sesenta
  • seventy — setenta
  • eighty — ochenta
  • ninety — noventa
  • one hundred — cien

Click to learn more about numbers in Spanish with this helpful guide to Spanish numbers vocabulary!

Spanish Food Vocabulary

Whether you’re deciphering a menu in a Spanish-speaking country or following the steps of your favorite recipe, you’ll want to know Spanish food and drink vocabulary. Here are some basics to get you started:

  • food — la comida
  • to eat — comer
  • to drink — beber/tomar
  • restaurant — el restaurante
  • fast food — la comida rápida

 

food in spanish town

 
  • menu — el menú
  • dish — el plato
  • breakfast — el desayuno
  • lunch — la comida/el almuerzo
  • dinner — la cena
  • appetizer — el entrante/la entrada
  • main course — el plato principal
  • dessert — el postre

 

  • soup — la sopa
  • salad — la ensalada
  • bread — el pan
  • rice — el arroz
  • chicken — el pollo
  • beef — la carne de vaca
  • pork — la carne de cerdo
  • seafood — el marisco
  • potatoes — las patatas/las papas
  • fruit — las frutas
  • vegetables — las verduras
  • drink — la bebida
  • beer — una cerveza
  • wine — el vino
  • water — el agua
  • juice — el zumo/el jugo
  • tea — el té
  • coffee — el café

Want to be able to talk about all types of food in Spanish? Click to learn more Spanish food vocabulary!

Animals In Spanish

Whether you’re scared of spiders or a regular swimmer with the sharks, you can’t get by without knowing how to talk about animals in Spanish. Check out this Spanish animal vocabulary to help you talk about the natural world and the creatures that inhabit it:

  • animal — el animal
  • pet — la mascota
  • dog — el perro
  • cat — el gato
  • fish — el pez
  • mouse — el ratón
  • rabbit — el conejo
  • chicken — la gallina
  • cow — la vaca
  • pig — el cerdo
  • sheep — la oveja
  • goat — la cabra
  • donkey — el burro
  • horse — el caballo
  • elephant — el elefante
  • bird — el ave
  • duck — el pato
  • goose — el ganso
  • penguin — el pingüino
  • owl — la lechuza
  • dolphin — el delfín
  • shark — el tiburón
  • bear — el oso
  • wolf — el lobo
  • snake — la serpiente
  • frog — la rana
  • squirrel — la ardilla
  • bug — el bicho
  • spider — la araña
  • ant — la hormiga
  • bee — la abeja
  • butterfly — la mariposa

To get to know more names of the animals in Spanish, click to learn more Spanish animal vocabulary!

Parts Of The Body In Spanish

From your head to your shoulders to your knees to your toes, your body is a part of your everyday experience. So there’s no question you should learn Spanish body part vocabulary; it’s a no-brainer. (Cue the eye roll.) Check out some important words below:

  • body — el cuerpo
  • part of the body — la parte del cuerpo
  • face — la cara

 

legs hanging off pier
 
  • eye — el ojo

  • nose — la nariz

  • eyebrow — la ceja

  • mouth — la boca

  • tooth — el diente

  • tongue — la lengua

  • lip — el labio

  • ear — la oreja

  • chin — la barbilla

  • cheek — la mejilla

  • head — la cabeza

  • brain — el cerebro

  • skin — la piel

  • hair — el pelo

  • neck — el cuello

  • arm — el brazo

  • leg — la pierna

  • hand — la mano

  • finger — el dedo

  • foot — el pie

  • toe — el dedo del pie

  • knee — la rodilla

  • elbow — el codo

  • chest — el pecho

  • back — la espalda

Learn all you need to know about the parts of the body in Spanish. Click to learn more about Spanish body part vocabulary!

Feelings And Emotions In Spanish

It can be tough to talk about your feelings in your native language, let alone a foreign one. But you know how to talk about moods, feelings and emotions in Spanish, you’ll have the right words to express yourself when you’re happy, sad, angry and everything in between. Here’s some essential Spanish emotions vocabulary to get you started:

  • emotion — la emoción
  • mood — el humor
  • feeling — el sentimiento
  • happy — feliz
  • sad — triste
  • excited — emocionado
  • angry — enfadado
  • depressed — deprimido
  • lonely — solo
  • satisfied — satisfecho
  • proud — orgulloso
  • disappointed — decepcionado
  • upset — indignado
  • nervous — nervioso
  • tired — cansado
  • joy — la alegría
  • love — el amor
  • hate — el odio
  • hope — la esperanza
  • sympathy — la compasión
  • hunger — el hambre
  • thirst — la sed
  • pain — el dolor
  • fear — el miedo
  • to get bored — aburrirse
  • to feel — sentirse

 

  • I like you. — Me gustas.
  • I am in a good mood today. — Hoy estoy de buen humor.
  • I’m afraid. — Tengo miedo.
  • I love you. — Te quiero.
  • Why are you sad? — ¿Por qué estás triste?
  • I am so unhappy. — Soy tan infeliz.

Click to learn more about Spanish feelings and emotions vocabulary!

Hobbies In Spanish

If you like to spend time doing something in your free time, you should learn how to talk about it! Filling your Spanish vocabulary with expressions that let you speak passionately about your interests and hobbies will help you add some personal flair to your Spanish repertoire. Here’s some Spanish hobbies vocabulary you might want to know:

  • book — el libro
  • theater — el teatro
  • play — la obra de teatro
  • musical — el musical
  • film — la película

 

woman playing guitar
 
  • painting — la pintura
  • museum — el museo
  • photography — la fotografía
  • gallery — la galería
  • photo — la foto
  • drawing — el dibujo

 

  • music — la música
  • instrument — el instrumento
  • guitar — la guitarra
  • piano — el piano

 

  • game — el juego
  • puzzle — el rompecabezas
  • chess — el ajedrez
  • card — la carta
  • video game — el videojuego
  • board games — el juego de mesa

 

  • sport — el deporte
  • soccer — el fútbol
  • gymnasium — el gimnasio
  • team — el equipo

 

  • to play — jugar
  • to go shopping — hacer la compra
  • to eat out — comer fuera
  • to sing — cantar
  • to read — leer
  • to dance — bailar
  • to paint — pintar

 

  • What do you do in your free time? — ¿Qué haces en tu tiempo libre?
  • Do you have any hobbies? — ¿Tienes algún hobby?
  • Do you play an instrument? — ¿Tocas un instrumento?
  • I like to listen to my music very loud. — Me gusta escuchar música alta.
  • Do you like going to the theater? — ¿Te gusta ir al teatro?
  • I love going to restaurants. — Me encanta ir al restaurante.
  • I surf the internet. — Yo navego por internet.
  • Do you play sports? — ¿Haces deporte?
  • I play soccer twice a week. — Juego dos veces a la semana al fútbol.

Want to know how to talk about all your different hobbies in Spanish? Click to learn more about Spanish hobbies vocabulary!

Family In Spanish

For better or for worse, the family is one of the core units of the human condition. Whatever your relationship with your family, you can’t escape them (or talking about them). That’s why having some vocabulary to talk about your family in Spanish is essential. Here’s some Spanish family vocabulary you should know:

  • family — la familia
  • relatives — los parientes
  • mother — la madre
  • father — el padre
  • sister — la hermana
  • brother — el hermano
  • daughter — la hija
  • son — el hijo
  • children — los hijos
  • grandmother — la abuela
  • grandfather — el abuelo
  • grandparents — los abuelos
  • granddaughter — la nieta
  • grandson — el nieto
  • grandchildren — los nietos
  • aunt — la tía
  • uncle — el tío
  • cousin (male) — el primo
  • cousin (female) — la prima

To be able to talk about all your family members in Spanish, click to learn more Spanish family vocabulary!

Weather In Spanish

There’s no better way to small talk than to chat about the weather. So when you’re looking to shoot the breeze in Spanish, look no further than Spanish weather vocabulary. Here are some words and terms you should know to talk about the weather in Spanish:

  • weather — el tiempo
  • weather forecast — la previsión del tiempo
  • climate — el clima
  • degree — el grado
  • temperate — templado
  • tropical — tropical
  • cloudy — nublado/a

 

spanish weather
 
  • sunlight — la luz del sol
  • cloud — la nube
  • wind — el viento
  • rain — la lluvia
  • storm — la tempestad
  • thunder — el trueno
  • lightning — el rayo
  • snow — la nieve

 

  • natural disaster — la catástrofe natural
  • earthquake — el terremoto
  • hurricane — el huracán
  • tornado — el tornado
  • flood — la inundación

 

  • season — la estación
  • spring — la primavera
  • summer — el verano
  • autumn — el otoño
  • winter — el invierno

 

  • What is the weather like? — ¿Qué tiempo hace?
  • The sun is shining. — Hace sol.
  • The sky is cloudy. — El cielo está nublado.
  • It stopped raining. — La lluvia ha parado.
  • It was snowing all day. — Ha nevado todo el día.

Click to learn more about Spanish weather vocabulary!

Spanish Business Phrases

Learning Spanish can be a lot of fun, but when it’s time to get down to business, you’ll of course want some Spanish business vocabulary to carry you through your next job interview or client meeting. These must-know Spanish expressions to help you talk about business in Spanish are the perfect addition to your lexicon.

  • We have to call a meeting. — Tenemos que convocar una reunión.
  • They scheduled the appointment for tomorrow. — Programaron la cita para mañana.
  • He confirmed his attendance. — Él confirmó su asistencia.
  • Could you reserve the conference room? — ¿Podrías reservar la sala de conferencias?
  • Don’t worry, everything is settled! — ¡No te preocupes, todo está arreglado!
  • I would like to present the project. — Me gustaría presentar el proyecto.
  • You have the floor. — Tienes la palabra.
  • I don’t share your opinion. — No comparto su opinión.
  • They’re keeping the strategy in mind. — Tienen en cuenta la estrategia.
  • When do we sign the contract? — ¿Cuándo firmamos el contrato?
  • Dear colleagues, — Queridos compañeros:
  • Don’t hesitate to contact me. — No duden en contactarme.
  • I look forward to your response. — Quedo pendiente de su respuesta.
  • Kind regards, — Saludos cordiales,
  • Could you forward me this email? — ¿Podrías reenviarme este correo?
  • I’ll copy you in. — Te pongo en copia.

Want to know everything you need to talk about business in Spanish? Click to learn more Spanish business vocabulary!

Spanish Travel Vocabulary

When you’re ready to take your Spanish on the go on your next vacation around the world, you’ll need some Spanish travel vocabulary to help get you there. Make the most of your next adventure with these vocabulary terms to talk about vacations, transportation and travel in Spanish:

  • to the left — a la izquierda
  • to the right — a la derecha
  • straight — recto
  • on the corner — en la esquina

 

bus in spanish city
 
  • airplane — el avión
  • airport — el aeropuerto
  • terminal — la terminal
  • luggage — el equipaje
  • hand baggage (carry-on) — el equipaje de mano
  • departure — el despegue
  • flight — el vuelo
  • security check — el control de seguridad
  • gate — la puerta de embarque

 

  • public transportation — el transporte público
  • train — el tren
  • bus — el autobús
  • train station — la estación
  • bus (or train) stop — la parada
  • ticket — el billete
  • passenger — el pasajero
  • subway — el metro
  • timetable — el horario

 

  • car — el coche
  • driver — el conductor (m.)/la conductora (f.)
  • bicycle — la bicicleta
  • cyclist — el ciclista (m.)/la ciclista (f.)
  • key — la llave
  • seatbelt — el cinturón de seguridad
  • helmet — el casco

 

  • to drive — conducir
  • to park — aparcar
  • to check in — facturar
  • to board — subir a bordo
  • to land — aterrizar

 

  • Where are you going? (formal) — ¿A dónde va?
  • I am looking for a hotel. — Busco un hotel.
  • Excuse me! I am a tourist and I am lost. — ¡Disculpe! Soy turista y estoy perdido (m.)/perdida (f.).
  • How much is a ticket to the airport? — ¿Cuánto cuesta un billete al aeropuerto?
  • What time does the train leave? — ¿A qué hora sale el tren?

Be better equipped to travel in Spanish by clicking to learn more about Spanish travel and transportation vocabulary!

   

Learning Spanish Vocabulary With Babbel

woman on phone

Babbel makes learning and practicing Spanish vocabulary easy, interactive and fun. Our Spanish learning content is designed by language experts and teachers who know the best methods to build your Spanish vocabulary skills and make sure they stick.

A variety of speaking, writing, reading and listening exercises reinforce all the elements of language learning so you’ll be ready to use the terms you’re learning in different situations.

Babbel lessons introduce new words and expressions in stages, focusing on vocabulary that applies in conversations with actual native speakers — not nonsensical or impractical words that you’ll never use. Almost every Babbel Spanish lesson features a simulated dialogue that lets you use what you’ve learned in real-life contexts.

The Review feature brings back Spanish vocabulary from earlier lessons when you’re most at risk of forgetting them, helping you strengthen your word recall skills with interactive flashcard and spelling exercises.

Ready to get started learning Spanish vocabulary? 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!

 

Check out our other topics about learning Spanish:
Learn Spanish
Spanish Phrases
Spanish Grammar
Spanish Alphabet
Best Way To Learn Spanish
How To Speak Spanish