For the 50+ Traveler

If you've decided to travel to a predominately Spanish-speaking country, it never hurts to have a few basic phrases down. Though you'll probably be able to seek out at least a few other English speakers wherever you go, these basic phrases will give you the tools to get through a simple conversation with most of the people you'll meet. We'll also include a few great free resources, in case you want to further your Spanish skills.

1. Greetings

The following are some of the more common Spanish language greetings. It's good to have these down because not only will you want to use them, you'll probably hear them directed your way quite a bit!

Good morning. -- Buenos días.

Good afternoon. -- Buenas tardes.

Good evening. -- Buenas noches.

Hi. -- Hola.

How are you? (Use this version for people you know personally, it's informal.) -- ¿Cómo estás?

How are you? (Use this version for people you've just met, it's a bit more formal.) -- ¿Cómo está?

Good, thank you. (When someone asks how you are.) -- Bien, gracias.

Good to meet you. -- Mucho gusto.

Welcome! -- ¡Bienvenido!

My name is. -- Me llamo.

What is your name? -- ¿Como te llamas?

2. Manners

When a guest in another country, it's always important to be polite! Here are a few words to know for common courtesy's sake:

Please. -- Por Favor

Thank you. -- Gracias

Thank you very much! -- ¡Muchas gracias!

You're welcome. -- ¡De nada!

Excuse me. (When you'd like to ask something) -- ¡Perdone!

Sorry. (When you don't hear or understand something) -- ¡Disculpe!

I'm sorry. (To apologize for a mistake.) -- ¡Lo siento!

banners Mexico

3. Addressing your lack of Spanish skills!

No matter how much you study Spanish before your trip, there may come a point where you need to admit that you aren't indeed a native speaker. Here are a few ways to explain your predicament and ask for assistance:

I only speak a little Spanish. -- Solo hablo un poco español.

Do you speak English? -- ¿Habla inglés?

I do not understand. -- No entiendo.

Can you say that again? -- ¡Puede repetirlo!

Can you speak more slowly? -- ¿Puedes hablar más despacio?

What does (fill in the blank) mean? -- ¿Qué significa (insert word in question here)?

4. Common question words

Knowing these words will help you form the most basic of questions:

Who? -- ¿Quién?

What? -- ¿Qué?

Where? -- ¿Dónde?

When? -- ¿Cuándo?

Why? -- ¿Por qué?

What time? -- ¿A qué hora?

How much? -- ¿Cuánto?

How many? -- ¿Cuántos?

5. Asking for help or directions

Among the best reasons to know a little Spanish is gaining the ability to ask for assistance. Here are some common ways to ask for directions or other things you might find yourself needing:

Can you help me? -- ¿Puede ayudarme?

I'm lost. -- Estoy perdido.

What time is it? -- ¿Qué hora tienes?

Where is the bathroom? -- ¿Dónde está el baño?

What is this? -- ¿Qué es esto?

How much is that? -- ¿Cuánto cuesta eso?

Can I use your phone charger? -- ¿Puedo usar tu cargador del móvil?

Where can I get a taxi? -- ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi?

I'm looking for a hotel. -- Busco un hotel.

How do I get to? -- ¿Cómo puedo llegar a?

Where is? -- ¿Dónde está?

Then, of course, you'll want to know how to interpret directions when you get them. Some of the more common you'll hear include:

Here -- Aqui.

There -- Allí.

Straight ahead. -- Drecho.

At the corner. -- En la esquina.

On the right. -- A la derecha.

On the left. -- A la izquierda.

One block away. -- A una cuadra.

signpost directions

6. At a restaurant

When dining out, you may or may not be lucky enough to find that your waiter or waitress understands English. Don't let it deter you from trying out a great place with these useful words and phrases:

Where is a restaurant? -- ¿Dónde hay un restaurante?

I would like... -- Quisiera...

A table. -- Una mesa.

A menu. -- Un menú.

Water. -- Agua.

Soup. -- Sopa.

Salad. -- Ensalada.

Bread. -- Pan.

An appetizer. -- Una entrada.

Dessert. -- Un postre.

A drink. -- Una bebida.

Coffee. -- Un café.

Beer. -- Cerveza.

Red wine. -- Vinto tinto.

White wine. -- Vinto blanco.

Beer. -- Cerveza.

The check -- La cuenta.

7. Saying goodbye

Goodbye. -- Adiós.

Take care! -- ¡Cuídate!

Good night! -- ¡Buenas noches!

See you tomorrow! -- ¡Hasta mañana!

8. Learning more

While it's always helpful to have a few basic Spanish phrases down, there are lots of great (and free!) ways to learn even more. Some of the best resources include: FluentU, DuoLingo, Rosetta Stone, and Memrise.

Now we hope you're better prepared for your next Spanish-language adventure!