Essential Spanish words and phrases before you travel in Spain.
Spanish directional words and phrases…
In Essential Spanish 2 we added “Where …” questions – if you’re looking for the bathroom, a pharmacy, a bus stop, or the subway or railway station, a bank , an ATM or the Tourist Information.
Asking such questions in Spanish – especially if you’ve practiced your pronunciation a bit – may let your conversation partner assume that you understand Spanish quite well.
The result will be an answer and a stream of words that’ll fly right by you.
So asking the person to speak more slowly could be your first reply in such a case: “¿Podría hablar más despacio por favor?”
And it would be good to also know some basic directional words and phrases in Spanish – left, right, straight ahead – as the typical answers may well include them.
The Next 13 Spanish Phrases
Why These Phrases?
In Essential Spanish 1 and 2, we listed greetings and typical “where is…?” questions. Even if you’ve never studied Spanish before, it’ll be useful to learn and practice saying them.
In Essential Spanish 3, there are only two sentences you may want to practice saying: “Could you please speak more slowly?” and “Many thanks for your help.”
The other 11 phrases and sentences will be useful to understand as you receive answers to your “where is…?” question. You still may want to record yourself saying them, so you can confirm, what you thought you understood – and – you’ll also remember them better that way.
Food, Drinks, Restaurants
Finding a recommended restaurant, Café, or bar has been made much easier with GPS-equipped smart phones and mobile devices.
And finding a good restaurant in Spain has to be part of your travel adventure.
Once you have arrived at the place, you may have to ask for a table and the Menu, place an order and then ask for and pay the check.
Knowing a few key phrases in Spanish will make all this much easier.
You’ll find them among the next 14 Phrases in Essential Spanish 4.
(Check back with us in a few weeks!)
If you are used to the 15-20% tips, generally expected in US restaurants, you’ll be pleasantly surprised: In Spain, as in nearly all West-European countries, tips are included in your check.
But for good service 5-10% tips are always welcome.
We don’t know whether it’s the case in all of Spain: But in Barcelona, all through Andalusia and in Madrid, when we asked for the check (la cuenta), the waiter always went back to get a printed check slip, often a second time to bring the change. Never once did he or she add up the total at the table.
When paying with a credit card, the transaction occurred at the table with a handheld device, as customary in Europe.
(European visitors are always amazed, and appalled, that in the U.S. we let a waiter disappear with our credit card, with ample time to copy the card specifics, to then return after a few minutes with paper slips to sign.)
Asking “Where is…? questions in Spanish…
If you’ve already learned and practiced Essential Spanish 1, you’ll be ready to tackle the next 12 Spanish essentials.
These are words and phrases that’ll help you ask “Where …” questions – if you’re looking for the bathroom, a pharmacy, a bus stop, or the subway or railway station, a bank , an ATM or the Tourist Information.
And being in Spain, you may also want to know where you can eat good Tapas…
The Next 12 Phrases: Where is…?
Getting around in Madrid
Note that Madrid has an excellent transport system for getting around the city. Figuring out what to take to get where you want to go can be part of the fun and adventure of visiting an interesting city like Madrid.
The choices are the metro, with its 13 lines and over 300 stations, Buses, the EMT, or, if you want to venture out a little further, the Commuter trains, known as cercanías.
You can take either one from the airport into the city, and this Public Transportation link, gives you even more information.
During our one-week stay in Madrid several years ago, we took full advantage of the Madrid Card, to visit the Prado and many of the other museums and sights.
Asking “Where”- questions in Spanish may let the person you are asking assume that you speak Spanish.
The result will often be an answer and a stream of words you’ll probably not understand.
It would therefore be good to know some basic directional words and phrases in Spanish – left, right, straight ahead, etc., and a way to say: “Please speak more slowly.”
So check back soon for Essential Spanish 3.
Spanish polite phrases & greetings…
Travelers visiting Spain can learn and practice 50-100 essential Spanish words and phrases here. We’ve posted the first 11 below.
Play back and compare.
(See “Learn and Practice Tips” below!)
The First 11 Spanish Phrases
Learn and Practice Tips
- Click the black arrow to hear the Spanish speaker.
- Click the red dot once to record yourself, click the black square to stop recording.
- When you click the black arrow again, you’ll hear the speaker and then yourself.
- Do it several times until you sound like the Spanish speaker.
- Then “Choose a Study Mode” and test yourself with one of the Quizlet games! (You may need to adjust your Options with the top right icon .)
Why learn these phrases?
Whenever you travel to a country where you don’t speak the language, you’ll encounter situations when these words will be useful.
Let’s say you’ve ordered your first meal in a restaurant in Spain and as the waiter serves you, you say “Gracias”.
Even if the waiter knows that you don’t speak Spanish, your effort may make him smile.
And beyond “Please” and “Thank you”, basic greetings really are the staple of first words you should know in any country you visit.
We’ll end with asking whether your conversation partner speaks any of the languages you (may) speak. The phrases below are used in Spain. Using them in other Spanish-speaking countries will certainly make you understood.)
Walking in the country side…
While there’ll be many opportunities to use basic greetings in Spanish cities, knowing them when you’re outside of a city is even more important.
Being a visitor in Spain will make you much more welcome when you make the effort to greet people in Spanish.
The next 12 Spanish Phrases
In the next installment – Essential Spanish 2 – you’ll learn to ask where the bathroom is, and where the train and metro stations, a bank, a pharmacy etc. are located.