Are you planning to visit Spain, Mexico, South America, or any of the 20 countries where locals speak Spanish? Are you a Spanish beginner wanting to get the most common Spanish phrases under your belt?

In this article, we will help you not only to SURVIVE in a Spanish-speaking country under different situations but also to ENJOY and NAIL conversations like a native speaker. Because our Swap Language team is here to help you break down language and cultural barriers!

Below we have organized 121 common Spanish phrases into 13 categories — from basic greetings to making small talk; from asking for help to asking for local travel tips — ¡Aqui tienes! (here you go!)

What Are The Most Common Spanish Phrases?

what are the most common Spanish phrases?

Disclaimer: some phrases may not have a direct translation because 1) there may not be one, and 2) we want to teach you the native expression speakers actually use in that situation.

Greetings & Being Polite

Let’s start with the basics! If you have just started learning Spanish, these common phrases will instantly open a dialogue with a Spanish speaker.

common Spanish phrases - greetings
  • Hello – Hola
  • How are you? – ¿Cómo estás? 
  • Good morning/ evening – Buenos días/ Buenas tardes
  • I am good and you? – Estoy bien, ¿y tú? 
  • Nice to meet you – Mucho gusto
  • Thank you – Gracias
  • You too – Igualmente
  • Sorry – Lo siento
  • Excuse me – Perdone/ Disculpe
  • No problem – No hay problema (also “No hay de qué” – no worries/ don’t mention it)
  • Please – Por favor
  • Bye/ See you later – Adiós/ Hasta luego

Self-Introduction

When traveling abroad, the best experiences often come from meeting local friends. It is a whole different level of fulfilment when you step out of your comfort zone and interact with locals in their language. It’s nerve-racking, but it is so worth the try! You can start by introducing yourself with these common phrases:

common Spanish phrases - self-introduction
  • My name is / I am (Anna) – Me llamo / Yo soy (Anna)
  • I come from (the US)  – Soy de (Estados Unidos) 
  • I am (X) years old – Tengo (X) años 
  • I work as (a doctor) – Trabajo como (medico)
  • I study (Architecture) – Estudio (arquitectura)
  • I am here in (Spain) for X days – Estoy aquí en (España) por (X) días.
  • I play (the guitar) – toco (la guitarra)

*Pro tip #1: In Spanish, the subject “Yo” (“I”) is often omitted because people will understand it through the context or verb form.

Wishes / Compliments

When you have casual conversations with Spanish-speakers, different life events like birthdays, weddings, travel experiences may come up. Learning some common phrases beforehand can come in handy – it never hurts to be friendly and polite!

common Spanish phrases . - wishes / compliments
  • Congratulations! – ¡Felicidades!
  • Happy Birthday! – ¡Feliz cumpleaños!
  • Good luck! – ¡Buena suerte!
  • Cheers/ Bless you! – ¡Salud!
  • Well done/ good job! – ¡bien hecho!
  • Have fun! – ¡Diviértete! ¡Pásalo bien!
  • That’s beautiful/ pretty!- ¡Qué bonito/a/ hermoso/a/ lindo/a*
  • Take care! – ¡Cuídate!
  • Have a good trip! – ¡Buen viaje!

*Pro tip #2: In Spanish, the gender of an adjective (-a or -o ending) depends on the gender of the noun it describes.

Spanish Question Words

Getting to know your new local friends often involves asking questions. Let’s go through the basic question words in Spanish first, and then we will show you the most commonly asked questions used in small talk situations.

common Spanish phrases - Question Words
  • What – Qué
  • Where – Dónde
  • When – Cuándo
  • Why – Por qué
  • Who – Quién
  • Which – Cuál
  • How – Cómo (Sometimes “Cuánto” depending on subject)
  • Can/ May I…? – ¿Puedo…?

Icebreaker / Small talk

Besides introducing yourself, making small talk is also important when interacting with locals. Here are some of the most useful phrases you can use to break the ice, which can lead to great conversations and friendships! Feel free to play with the question words above to ask many different questions too.

common Spanish phrases - Icebreaker / Small talk
  • What’s your name? – ¿Cómo te llamas?
  • What do you do for a living? – ¿A qué te dedicas?
  • Where do you live? – ¿Dónde vives?
  • Do you have siblings? – ¿Tiene hermanos?
  • What’s your favorite (restaurant)? – ¿Cuál es tu (restaurante) favorito(/a)? 
  • The weather is nice/ bad today – Hace buen/mal tiempo hoy. (More on weather)
  • Have you eaten yet? – ¿Ya comiste? /¿Ya has comido?
  • Do you have facebook/ instagram? – ¿Tienes cuenta de Facebook/ Instagram?
  • Do you play any musical instrument? – ¿Tocas algún instrumento musical?

SOS / Asking for help

Traveling is fun and all, but shit sometimes just happens. And what’s worse when you need help but nobody around speaks English? So, only to be safe, it is a SUPER good idea to learn these Spanish SOS phrases before your next adventure. 

common Spanish phrases - SOS / Ask for help
  • Can you help me with…? – ¿Puede ayudarme con…?
  • I don’t speak Spanish – No hablo español 
  • How can I (buy the ticket)? – ¿Cómo puedo (comprar el boleto/billete)?
  • I missed my flight/ train/bus – Perdí mi vuelo/ tren/ autobús
  • What should I do now? – ¿Qué puedo hacer?
  • Can you say that again? – ¿Puede repetirlo?
  • Is this right? – ¿Es esto correcto? 
  • How much is it? – ¿Cuánto cuesta?
  • Do you know who can help me with…? – ¿Sabe quién me puede ayudar con …?
  • Do you speak English? – ¿Habla inglés?

Asking for Directions

Nowadays, Google Maps and GPS usually work well, but not always! When I was in Cuba, with very limited internet access, I often needed to ask locals for directions in Spanish. It’s important to get to where you need to go, but also a great way to interact with local people too.

Common Spanish phrases - asking for directions
  • I am lost! – Me he perdido
  • I am looking for (a Pharmacy) – Busco (una farmacia)
  • How can I get to (the restaurant)? – ¿Cómo puedo llegar a (el restaurante)?
  • Turn left/ right – Gira a la izquierda/ derecha 
  • Go straight – Sigue recto  
  • A few blocks – a pocas cuadras
  • On the opposite side (of the street) – En el lado opuesto (de la calle)
  • Does this bus/ train go to…? – ¿Pasa este autobús/ tren por…?
  • Where is (the bathroom)? – ¿Dónde está (el baño)?
  • Can you take me to (this address) please? – Me puede llevar a (esta direccion), por favor.

Asking for Local Tips

Oh, this one is our favorite: The best way to get the most authentic experiences when traveling is to ask the locals for advice! They are the ones in-the-know about the happenings, the best places to eat, the fastest way to get somewhere, and so on, in their own city. So let’s get these Spanish phrases down:

Common Spanish phrases - asking for local tips
  • What is your favorite (restaurant/ cafe) in here? 
    • ¿Cuál es tu (restaurante/ café) favorito aquí?
  • What are some local food I should try? 
    • ¿Qué comida local debo probar?
  • What are some interesting places to visit? 
    • ¿Cuáles son algunos lugares interesantes para visitar?
  • What is the best place to (see sunset)?
    • ¿Cuál es el mejor lugar para (ver el atardecer)?
  • What should I experience when in (Barcelona)?
    • ¿Qué debería experimentar al visitar (Barcelona)?
  • How to get X cheaper?
    • ¿Cómo consigo X más barato?
  • What should i be careful about?
    • ¿De qué debo tener cuidado?
  • Is (the museum) really worth visiting?
    • ¿Vale la pena visitar (el museo)?
  • What advice can you give as a local?
    • ¿Qué consejo me puedes dar tu que vives aquí?

Answering Questions

Communication is a two-way street. Besides learning useful Spanish phrases to ask questions in different situations, we’ve also got a list to help you ANSWER questions like a native speaker. ♪ fake it till you make it ♪

Common Spanish phrases - answering questions
  • Yes/ No – sí/ no
  • Maybe/ I’m not sure – Tal vez
  • I don’t know – No lo sé
  • That’s cool! – ¡Qué bueno! 
  • That sucks! –  ¡Eso apesta!
  • That’s crazy! – ¡Qué locura!
  • That’s beautiful/ pretty!- ¡Qué bella/ bonita/ hermosa/ linda!
  • I (don’t) like it – (No) me gusta
  • Sure/ Of course – Claro
  • Have fun! – ¡Diviértete!
  • Have a good trip! – ¡Buen viaje!
  • Take care! – ¡Cuídate!
  • Not really – No mucho/ en realidad no
  • I see – vale/ ya veo/ entiendo/ ah, okay

Food – Food is Life!

Food. Is. Life. Whether you are traveling to Spain, Mexico, Argentina, or Peru, trying local food is part of the adventure. Socializing with your local friends will probably involve food as well. So here are some Spanish phrases to order, comment, or ask about food for y’all foodies!

Common Spanish phrases - Food is life
  • Food – comida 
  • I am hungry! – ¡Tengo hambre! (A VERY IMPORTANT PHRASE :P)
  • (The soup) was delicious! – ¡(La sopa) estaba deliciosa!
  • I’d like to order (bbq chicken) – Quisiera pedir (el pollo asado)
  • I’m vegetarian/ vegan/ gluten-free – Soy vegetariano(a)/ vegano(a) / sin gluten
  • I don’t eat (chilli) – No como (chile)
  • Can I have the recipe? – ¿Me das la receta?
  • What is today’s menu? – ¿Cuál es menú del día?
  • What are the ingredients? – ¿Cuáles son los ingredientes?

Spanish Swear / Bad Words

Now we are talking – you haven’t truly mastered a language until you learn some swear words, right? 😉 Spanish speakers around the world are very, hmm… creative and expressive when cursing. Here are the most frequently-used swearing phrases – some are universal, others are more popular in specific regions (indicated in *italic).

Common Spanish phrases - Swear or bad words
  • F*ck – Joder (f*ck you – Jódete/que te jodan)
  • Shit – Mierda
  • Jerk/ idiot – Gilipollas/ Tonto del culo
  • Bastard/ as*hole/ d*ck – Cabrón *Spain & South America
  • Son of a b*tch – Hijo de puta (“Puta” is often used alone as well)
  • F*cking (as*hole) – Puto/a (idiota) *Spain; Pinche (pendejo/a) *Mexico
  • I shit on … – ¡Me cago en…! *Spain
  • To F*ck – Chingar *Mexico
  • Go away/ get lost – Vete a la mierda *Spain; Anda a cagar
    • Literal translation: “Go take a poop”; used when you are frustrated or angry

Note: Some may sound strange in English but I SWEAR that’s how native Spanish-speakers swear. 😉

Romance / Love

Enough about the bad boys for now. On another note, romantic phrases are good to know and Spanish is one of the most passionate and romantic languages. You never know when/if someone special will catch your eyes next time you hit the bar or meet new people. ❤️ 

Common Spanish phrases - Romance
  • I like you -Me gustas/ Me encantas 
  • I love you – Te amo (strong love)/Te quiero
  • I miss you – Te extraño / te echo de menos
  • I like your (smile) – Me gusta tu (sonrisa) 
  • Darling/sweetheart – Cariño
  • Gorgeous – hermoso/a
  • You are my everything – Eres mi todo
  • You are the best – ¡Eres el/la mejor!
  • You are pretty/sexy/hot – Eres bonita *Mexico ; guapa *Spain ; Que sexi eres
    • Be careful: “caliente” (hot) in Spanish actually means “horny” in this context

Funny Spanish Expressions

Humor in another language can be very hard to grasp, but it is fun to understand what the locals mean and even throwing in some to surprise them.

Common Spanish phrases - Funny Spanish Expressions
  • Hay días tontos y tontos todos los días
    • Literal translation: “There are stupid days and people who are stupid every day.”
  • Papando moscas 
    • Literal translation: “Catching flies”
    • Meaning: Someone is daydreaming or lost in thought. 
    • Fun facts: “catching flies” is also a Chinese expression but to describe an unpopular restaurant/place that few people visit. Completely different!
  • La mona aunque se vista de seda, mona se queda
    • Literal translation: “Although a monkey dresses in silk, it stays a monkey.” 
    • Meaning: Mere external improvements don’t change or hide our natural conditions.
  • Buen rollo *Spain / Buena onda *Latin America 
    • Literal translation: “good roll” and  “good wave” respectively
    • Meaning: Good vibes, positive attitude and environment.
  • El burro sabe mas que tu
    • Literal translation: “Donkeys know more than you”
    • Meaning: to tease someone (who is close to you) for not being smart
  • En el quinto pino *Spain
    • Literal translation: “in the fifth pine tree”
    • Meaning: Something is very far away; similar to “in the middle of nowhere” in English.
    • E.g. “Juan vive en el quinto pino” – Juan lives in the fifth pine tree.

Still Nervous? 4 Pro-tips

Spanish phrases

We get it- It is your first time traveling so far away and meeting local friends. You may still be nervous, intimidated or unsure, but always remember these:

  1. Practice makes perfect.
    • Read them out loud at home or ask a Spanish-speaking friend before going on a trip. 
    • Just start using them when you are there – that’s the quickest way to learn.
  2. It is the effort that counts. 
    • Most local people are appreciative when a foreigner is trying to immerse and learn their language. 
    • Speaking their native tongue is what opens doors and conversations.
  3. If anything goes wrong, just laugh it off.
    • Most local people are more forgiving of foreigners. If your pronunciation is off, just apologize and laugh it off. 
  4. Just have fun!
    • These phrases are meant to help you not to stress you. No one gets everything right the first time. Just have fun with it. 

How Can You Master These Spanish Phrases?

Spanish phrases

Help with SwapLanguage

SwapLanguage (SWL) offers different free and paid services and community events to break down language and cultural barriers. Therefore, here are two ways you can brush up your Español – ALL OF THEM with native Spanish speakers and verified Spanish teachers!

Free SWL tandem partner

On Swap Language you can find a language-exchange partner for free, in order to exercise your Spanish-language skills and, most importantly, get to know more about the Culture.

Free weekly live Spanish lessons

During our lessons, native teachers get you better acquainted with the Spanish Vocabulary and Grammar, while also sharing Cultural insights. Some more good news? We have separate lessons for both Spanish and Latin American accents.

Online Resources

So, if you are very eager to learn more Spanish, we have also gathered some free, useful online resources that can help you prepare for the next adventure:

  1. Memrise (An app using flash card method to help you practice)
  2. ThoughtCo. (free printable Spanish worksheets)
  3. Learn Spanish Today (a comprehensive list of Spanish phrases)