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  • Carmen Jordan and David Cornado

Spanish for beginners, the ultimate guide about every day basic survival Spanish

Updated: May 28

Are you planning to visit any Spanish-speaking country? Do you want to interact with the locals and seem like one of them? Here you will find a short guide to survive among them.




A. Basic expressions in Spanish

1. Greetings and farewells in Spanish and forms of politeness.

2. Introducing oneself

3. Interacting in the hotel

4. Eating in a restaurant

5. Doing the shopping at the market

6. Going shopping!

7. Walking around the city and asking for directions

8. At the train/subway/bus station

9. Attending shows

10. At the police station

11. At the airport

12. Drinking in the city

13. At the doctor's

B. Basic grammar for beginners

C. Speak basic Spanish

D. Beginners basic listening comprehension

E. Dialect differences in different Spanish speaking countries


spanish for beginners sangria

A.  Basic expressions in Spanish


1. Greetings and farewells in Spanish and forms of politeness


¡Hola! : Hello!

Buenos días/ Buenas tardes/ Buenas noches:                               Good morning/ Good afternoon/ Good evening

Adiós/ Hasta pronto : Goodbye/ See you soon

Muchas gracias/ De nada: Many thanks/ You are welcome

¿Qué tal estás? : How are you doing?

Muy bien, gracias : Very well, thank you


You can use these phrases all the time. People in Spanish-speaking countries are very friendly and smile a lot. They will greet you, even if they don't know you, when you enter a restaurant or a small shop, when you shop at the market, in the lift... Go ahead and say hello fearless!


2. Introduce yourself


Me llamo…: My name is...

¿Cómo te llamas?: What is your name?

¡Mucho gusto!: Nice to meet you!

Soy de… país: I'm from... country


Making friends in Spanish-speaking countries is quite easy. People are quite open and are always willing to meet new people. A good way to start a conversation is to say “hello” and introduce yourself by saying your name and nationality.


3. Interacting in the hotel


¿Tienen habitaciones libres?: Do you have rooms available?

Tengo una reserva a nombre de....: I have a reservation under the name of ...

Quiero una habitación sencilla/doble: I want a single/double room

¿Hay piscina/gimnasio en el hotel?: Is there a swimming pool/gym in the hotel?

¿A qué hora tengo que dejar la habitación?: What time do I have to check out?

¿A qué hora es el desayuno/ la cena?: What time is breakfast/dinner?

Tengo un problema con la calefacción/ el aire acondicionado: I have a problem with the heating/air conditioning.

¿Hay Internet en la habitación?: Is there Internet in the room?

¿Pueden llamar a un taxi?: Can you call a taxi?


Although the hotels are sure to have English-speaking staff, it can also be a good place to practice your language skills. Don't be afraid and enjoy the experience of speaking with native people.



4. Eating in a restaurant


¿Me podría traer la carta/ el menú del día?: Can you bring me the menu of the day?

¿Qué me recomienda?: What do you recommend?

Podría traerme más...: Could you bring me more...

Otra cerveza / otra copa de vino, por favor: Another beer / another glass of wine, please

Quiero comida para llevar: I want takeaway food

¿Dónde está el baño?: Where is the toilet?

La cuenta, por favor: The bill, please


In Spanish-speaking countries they are quite relaxed about politeness. So, if you go to a bar or restaurant, it's enough to ask for everything using "por favor", there's no need to be extremely polite!


5. Shopping at the market


¿Cuánto cuesta un kilo/ medio kilo de... carne/pescado/fruta/verdura?: How much does a kilo/half kilo of... meat/fish/fruit/vegetables?

¿Tienen tomates/ cebollas/ patatas?: Do you have tomatoes/ onions/ potatoes?

Quiero comprar...: I want to buy...

¿Cuánto es en total?: How much is it in total?


Markets in Spanish-speaking countries are a great opportunity to practice the language because there are lots of workers you can talk to!


6. Shopping!


¿Cuánto cuesta... la camisa/ el vestido/ el pantalón/ el bolso?: How much is... the shirt/ the dress/ the trousers/ the bag?

¡Es muy caro/ Es muy barato!: It's very expensive/ It's very cheap!

¡Me gusta la camisa/ el vestido/el pantalón/ el bolso!: I like the shirt/ the dress/ the trousers/ the bag!

¿Puedo pagar en efectivo/ con tarjeta?: Can I pay in cash/ by card?

¿Dónde están los probadores?: Where are the fitting rooms?


In Spanish-speaking countries you can go shopping and find beautiful and cheap things!


7. Walking around the city and asking for directions


Me he perdido ¿Cómo puedo llegar a...?: I'm lost... How can I get to...?

¿Hay algún cajero/farmacia cerca?: Is there a cash machine/pharmacy nearby?

¿Dónde está la oficina de turismo?: Where is the tourist office?

¿Dónde está la estación de metro/ de autobús/ de tren?: Where is the metro/bus/train station?


If you're not good at finding your way around or using Google maps, don't worry! Spanish speakers will be happy to help you! Ask them and they'll give you a hand without losing their smile!


8. At the train/underground/bus station


Un billete para..., por favor: A ticket for..., please

¿Cuánto cuesta un billete para...?: How much is a ticket for...?

¿A qué hora sale el próximo tren/ autobús/ metro?: What time does the next train/bus/metro leave?

¿Tiene los horarios del tren/autobús/metro?: Do you have the train/bus/metro timetable?


9. Attending events


¿Cuánto cuesta la entrada del cine/ del teatro/ del concierto/ del museo?: How much does a cinema/theatre/concert/museum ticket cost?

¿Es una película en versión original?: Is it a film in original version?

¿Puedo hacer fotos?: Can I take photos?

¿Puedo comer durante el espectáculo?: Can I eat during the show?

¿Tienen mapas del museo?: Do you have maps of the museum?


In Spanish-speaking countries you can enjoy a wide range of cultural offerings, from films to exhibitions, theatre plays to concerts. How about going to a reggaeton concert or enjoying local art by visiting a famous museum? It's sure to be an enriching experience.


10.     At the police station


He perdido mi DNI/ mi pasaporte: I lost my ID card/ my passport

Me han robado el bolso/ el móvil/ el pasaporte: My purse/ mobile phone/ passport has been stolen.

Quiero poner una denuncia: I want to file a complaint

Me gustaría pedir un traductor: I would like to ask for a translator


Although we hope it won't happen to you, it may happen that you need the police help in an emergency. Don't worry, be patient and try to communicate as calmly as possible.


11. At the airport


Quiero comprar un billete a...: I want to buy a ticket to...

¿Cuál es mi puerta de embarque?: Which is my gate?

¿Dónde está la terminal 1?: Where is terminal 1?

Quiero cambiar dinero: I want to change money

He perdido mi equipaje: I have lost my luggage

¿Dónde está la parada de taxis?: Where is the taxi rank?


Maybe in some beautiful and remote places the local people don't speak English very well, so it's good to be able to speak Spanish in places like the airport where time is money, and you must be on time to catch a plane.


12.     Drinking in the city


¿Cuánto cuesta un mojito/un gin tonic/ una sangría?: How much does a mojito/ a gin and tonic/ a sangria cost?

Un chupito de whiskey/ de tequila, por favor: A shot of whiskey/ a shot of tequila, please.

Una caña/ una cerveza/ una clara, por favor: A draught beer/ a beer/ a beer with lemon or soda, please.

¿Hay alguna especialidad de la casa?: Is there a speciality of the house?


Do you want to enjoy the nightlife? Do you want to know what to order and how to order it? You can use these expressions and be pleased by your favourite cocktails or alcoholic drinks.

13.     At the doctor


Necesito ver a un doctor: I need to see a doctor

Me duele la cabeza/ Estoy mareado/ Tengo náuseas: I have a headache/ I'm dizzy/ I'm nauseous

Me he caído: I fell down

Me he cortado: I cut myself

Creo que tengo una insolación: I think I have a sunstroke


If you suddenly need to go to the doctor as a matter of urgency, it may help to know how to express your symptoms.


B. Basic grammar for beginners


Did you know that in Spanish all nouns have masculine or feminine gender? Normally nouns ending in -a are feminine and the rest are male. So, for example fabrica (factory) will be female while mosquito (mosquito) will be male.


Were you also aware of verb endings telling us who is doing the action, so we can leave out and not name the subject? We call it language economy, it's super interesting! For example:

Estudiar: to study.

Estudio : I study

Estudias: You study

Estudia: He studies

If “hablar” is to speak can you guess how to say I speak? Yes! Hablo.


C. Speak basic Spanish

Did you know that Spanish pronunciation is much simpler than English and French? It is read as it is written, including the vowels, which never change its sound even if you combine them, as they do in English and French.

Good news if you decide to study Spanish! you'll be able to pronounce like a native in no time!


D.  Beginners Basic listening Comprehension

The best way to get used to listening to a foreign language is either to interact with locals or to become accustomed to hearing the language through movies, TV shows, songs, etc. It is a gradual process that takes time, so the easiest way to proceed is to start watching your favorite movies or TV shows with English subtitles in Spanish. This way, your ear will become accustomed to hearing Spanish from natives, and when you have to listen to a real person speaking live, your ear will have already been trained, making it much easier for you.


E. Dialect differences in different Spanish speaking countries


Spanish is spoken in different countries: in Spain, but also in many Central and South American countries, so you may find slightly different accents. But don't worry, there are only small differences between them, like what happens with British English and English spoken in the USA.


We hope that this basic survival guide will be of help to you and that after reading it you will be curious and want to dive into learning Spanish. If so, we will be happy to help you!!













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