Common Spanish Phrases to Master Your First Conversation with a Native Speaker
By Ivy do Carmo
Are you starting to study Spanish or thinking about doing it? Are you planning a trip to Spain or to other Spanish-speaking country? Do you want to learn Spanish in order to get by at work or to have better job opportunities? Or is it your goal to improve your memory and logical faculties?
The truth is that there are a lot of reasons for people to learn a new language. Regardless of what is yours, there are some basic sentences you must learn to say the first things we normally talk about when we meet someone new.
In this article, you will learn the most common Spanish phrases to master your first conversation with a native speaker. They include how to greet and say goodbye, how to ask how the person is doing, how to show politeness, how to ask where is the person from and other common Spanish phrases that will be your survival kit to communicate with Spanish native speakers.
Good Morning in Spanish and Other Greetings
Let’s begin with the greetings. Knowing how to greet someone is very important no matter the language you’re trying to speak because it shows respect to the other person and it is an easy way to start a friendly conversation.
In Spanish, the same way as it is in English, there are greetings that you can use in any situation and others that depend on the period of the day. Here are the most common greetings in Spanish:
Hola – Hello
Buenas – Hi (informal)
Buenos días – Good morning
Buen día – Good morning (less common, used in Argentina)
Buenas tardes – Good afternoon
Buenas noches – Good evening
Bienvenido – Welcome
Que gusto de verlo – What a pleasure to see youBe careful to pronounce correctly the letter G in Spanish in this last sentence.
You can add more enthusiasm to any of these greetings by using the exclamation point. Just remember that, in Spanish, there are upside-down question and exclamation marks. Hence, you have to also write the inverted exclamation point at the beginning of the sentence, like this:
¡Buenos días! – Good morning!
¡Bienvenido! – Welcome!
¡Que gusto de verlo! – What a pleasure to see you!
We have seen how to greet people in Spanish. What about the farewells? How to say goodbye, see you soon or have a good day in Spanish? Here are the most common farewells in Spanish:
Adiós – Goodbye
Chao – Goodbye
Hasta luego – See you later
Hasta pronto – See you soon
Hasta la vista – See you next time
Hasta mañana – See you tomorrow
Nos vemos – See ya
Buenas noches – Good night
Que tengas un buen día – Have a good day
Que te vaya bien – Have a good day
Cuídate – Take care (informal)
Cuídese – Take care (formal)
How Are You in Spanish
After greeting the person, it is very important to ask if the person is doing well. By doing so, you show interest and consideration to the person and you open up your way to continue the conversation. Let’s see how we can ask how the person is doing and also how to respond if someone asks you the same thing.
¿Qué tal? – How are you?
¿Cómo estás? – How are you?
¿Cómo está usted? – How are you? (usted is more formal than tú)
¿Cómo te va? – How are you?
¿Cómo te ha ido? – How have you been?
¿Qué pasa? – What’s up?
¿Qué cuentas? – What’s up?
Estoy bien, ¿y tú? – I am fine, and you?
Bien, ¿y usted? – Good, and you? (usted is more formal than tú)
What determines if you are going to use usted or tú is the degree of formality of the situation. Knowing when to use formal or informal phrases is very important to convey the correct tone to what you are saying. For example, if you are talking to your boss, if you are in a business meeting or if you are writing a business email, you have to be more formal. On the other hand, if you are talking to your family or to your friends, you can be more informal.
Saying that you are well or fine is the most common answer when someone asks how are you doing. However, what if you’re not fine? How can you say you are not feeling well, that you are more or less or that you are sick or tired in Spanish? Let’s see:
Estoy estupendo – I am great.
Estoy muy bien – I am very well.
Estoy así así – I am okay.
Estoy más o menos. – I am so-so.
Estoy regular – I am regular.
Estoy mal – I feel unwell.
Estoy fatal – I am terrible.
Estoy un poco cansado – I am a little tired.
Estoy exhausto – I am exhausted.
Estoy enfermo – I am sick.
Introducing Yourself in Spanish
One of the first things, if not the first one, we learn about a person we have just met is his or her name. You can not say that you really know someone if you do not know the person’s name. Therefore, how can we ask the person’s name and also introduce ourselves in Spanish? Use the sentences below:
¿Cuál es tu nombre? – What is your name? (informal)
¿Cuál es su nombre? – What is your name? (formal) ¿Cómo te llamas? – What is your name? (informal) ¿Cómo se llama? – What is your name? (formal) Me llamo… – My name is… Mi nombre es… – My name is…
Thank You in Spanish and Other Courtesy Words
Do you know what are courtesy words? They are expressions that show politeness and respect, such as words used to thank other persons or apologize to them. Let’s see how to say the most common courtesy words, like thank you, sorry and you’re welcome in Spanish:
Gracias – Thank you
Muchas gracias – Thank you very much De nada – You’re welcome Perdón – I am sorry Lo siento – I am sorry Disculpe – Sorry Mil disculpas – A thousand sorry’s Por favor – Please Con permiso – Excuse me Perdone / Perdona – Excuse me Señor (Sr.) – Mr. Señora (Sra.) – Mrs. Señorita (Srta.) – Miss
Where Are You From in Spanish
After you have greeted the native speaker, asked his name, showed interest in him and introduced yourself, you have opened your way to talk about other things with him. It is very common to ask where the person is from and to tell him where are you from. See how you can ask and answer this in Spanish:
¿De dónde eres? – Where are you from? (informal)
¿De dónde es? – Where are you from? (formal)
¿De dónde son? – Where are you from? (plural)
¿Dónde vives? – Where do you live?
Yo soy de… – I am from…
Somos de… – We are from…
Asking Information In Spanish
First of all, we have to learn how to ask things using common Spanish phrases. We have already seen the word ¿Cómo? to ask how the person is doing (¿Cómo estás?) and ¿Dónde? to ask where the person is from (¿De dónde eres?), but there are other words used to ask questions in Spanish. The same way English has the WH question words, Spanish has these specific words to ask questions:
¿Qué…? – What…?
¿Cómo…? – How…?
¿Cuándo…? – When…?
¿Cuánto…? – How much…?
¿Dónde…? – Where…?
¿Quién…? – Who…?
¿Por qué…? – Why…?
¿Cuál? – Which…?
Now let’s see some useful sentences to ask information in Spanish using the question words you have just learned:
¿Qué hora tienes? – What time is it?
¿Qué edad tienes? – How old are you?
¿Cuántos años tienes? – How old are you?
¿Cuándo es tu cumpleaños? – When is your birthday?
¿Cuánto cuesta eso? – How much is that?
¿Quién eres? – Who are you?
¿Qué es esto? – What is this?
¿Cuál es la fecha de hoy? – What is the date today?
¿Entiende? – Do you understand?
¿Comprende? – Do you understand?
¿Por qué te gusta? – Why do you like it?
¿Hablas inglés? – Do you speak English?
¿Dónde está el baño? – Where is the bathroom?
Necesito ayuda – I need help
Other Useful and Common Phrases in Spanish
There are some other sentences that you will use a lot of times when making small talk with native speakers. Of course we can not include all of them in this article, but let’s learn some of the most useful common Spanish phrases:
Sí – Yes
Claro – Of course
Siempre – Always
A veces – Sometimes
Tal vez – Maybe
No – No
Nunca – Never
Buena suerte – Good luck
Buen viaje – Have a good trip
Buen provecho – Enjoy your meal
Diviértete – Have fun
Salud – Cheers / Bless you (when someone sneezes)
Muy bien – Well done
Felicitaciones – Congratulations
Feliz Cumpleaños – Happy Birthday
Feliz Navidad – Merry Christmas
Feliz Año Nuevo – Happy New Year
Siento interrumpir – I am sorry to interrupt
No se preocupe – Don’t worry
Te amo – I love you
Con mucho amor – With much love
In this article, we have seen many common Spanish phrases to master your first conversation with a native speaker. Practice their pronunciation and don’t be scared of making mistakes. You will then be ready to talk with confidence to the first native speaker you encounter!
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