Spanish is one of the romance languages. And while it may have many parallelisms with Italian and some similarities with French, it still stands out as an interesting and intriguing language to learn.
Spanish is also one of the major languages recognized by the United Nations system. That means all the major documents that the international body produces should also have a Spanish translation, aside from the English original (or aside from the original language of the document). So you know that this is a widely used language if the UN itself recognizes it as such.
And widely-used it really is, for it has so many speakers in many parts of the globe. Imagine having one whole continent being able to understand the language! That's not just one country, since that's majority of Central America and South America we're talking about. And then there are the former colonies or areas that had direct contact with the motherland, Spain, during the ancient times. Count Mexico and part of Texas, of course, in Northern America. There's also the Philippines in Asia and other smaller areas as well. All of these countries and areas have remnants of the Spanish culture infused in their current cultures, so it's also understandable that the Spanish language is also widely used in these cultures, if not infused in their own current languages.
Such an interesting background, right? So, do you think you can fill in the blanks of these common Spanish phrases here? Come on, give it a try, and let's see how much you know! Arriba arriba!
"Buenos dias" is perhaps the most common Spanish phrase that you will ever hear, since it's used in many movies and TV shows with Spanish-speaking characters. "Dias" is plural for "days," so the singular form of that is "dia."
While The Terminator might have said "Hasta la vista" to mean "see you later," the technical translation of this is actually "Until we see each other again." Vista actually means sight, as in to see another person, or view, meaning like a landscape view of a place.
"Por favor" literally translates to "for a favor," so it's literally asking for a favor, just like in English usage. But the Spanish favor could pertain to asking for a certain service, help, or assistance on behalf of someone as well.
"Lo siento" is the simplest and most honest way to apologize in Spanish, as it simply means "I'm sorry." If you want to amp it up, you can add "more" to it, so it becomes "Lo siento mucho."
"Buenas tardes" is the translation for "good afternoon," but "tardes" is actually the plural form of "afternoon." If you're talking of a singular afternoon, minus the greeting part, you use the singular form "tarde" for it.
"Nada" translates to nothing or none, and to say "De nada" is sometimes like saying "It's nothing" whenever someone thanks you, short of saying "don't mention it." But it's also actually meant to say "You're welcome" and some folks use that interchangeably.
Many English songs with Latin beats have used the term "te amo" in their lyrics to say "I love you." Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" had the term in 1986, and Rihanna actually had a 2010 song entitled "Te amo."
"Estoy bien" means "I am fine," and it can be used as a proper reply when someone asks about your wellbeing. If you're not feeling fine, the reply there is to just put a "no" in there, such as "No estoy bien."
"Yo no comprendo" might be a good survival phrase when someone suddenly talks to you in rapid Spanish in a foreign land. You can then add "Habla ingles?" to that, to see if the person can talk to you in English instead.
"Buenas noches" simply means "good evening," and it again uses the plural form of the word "night," which is "noche." So it's easy to track that the first word "buenas" comes from the string of words that mean "good," like buen, buena or bueno.
"Que hora es" is the simplest way to ask for the time in Spanish. "Hora" is actually the word for "hour," so you're literally asking what hour is it already.
"Como estas" is the simplest and most direct way of saying "How are you?" in Spanish. It doesn't matter if you're just making conversation or saying this upon meeting a person; it works in the "being nice" department, so use it wisely.
"Hablar" is actually the main verb where "habla" is conjugated from, and it means "to speak." So to say "Do you speak English?" it can be simply said as "Habla ingles?"
"Cuanto cuesta" is a very useful term when you're out shopping, either in posh malls or in colorful flea markets abroad. In any Spanish-speaking country, it means the same thing -- "How much?"
It's interesting to note that the word "sin" in Spanish means "without," but of course it sounds different in English. So to say "No problem!' in Spanish, you simply say "Sin problema!"
"Que pasa" is more like a question of greeting, one that doesn't expect a real lengthy reply. It simply asks "What’s happening?" so it has the same connotation as in English.
When you're asking "What's your name" in an informal way, you say "Como te llamas?" But if you're asking using the formal reference, like it's a stranger or an older person or someone of higher stature, it's best to use the more formal style of "Como se llama?"
Expect a lot of "Feliz Navidad" greetings come yuletide, since that means "Merry Christmas." To complete the thought, Happy New Year is "Feliz Año Nuevo" or "Próspero Año Nuevo."
"No se preocupe!" is the simplest way to reassure someone, as it means "No worries!" One could also say "No importa!" although that could also mean "never mind," depending on the usage or intention.
"Hasta luego" is the simplest way of saying "See you later" in Spanish. It could also mean "See you soon" sometimes, depending on the context of the conversation or the degree of closeness of the people talking.
The word "veces" refers to how many times something is done, referring to the frequency. So saying "a veces" means that something happens "sometimes" while saying "muchas veces" means something happens many times.
"Muy bien" is perhaps one of the most common Spanish phrases one would hear during travels or in pop culture products, as it simply means "very good." It's also a reaffirming positive thing to say to someone who's making great progress in something. Plus it could also be one's expression of positive agreement over something.
"Hasta mañana" is a typical way of saying "see you tomorrow" in Spanish. But there's actually a bad habit connected to this in some Spanish-speaking countries termed the "mañana habit" wherein one always puts off for tomorrow what one could do today -- and that's not necessarily a good thing to do, because it signifies laziness.
"Feliz Cumpleaños!" is the Spanish way of saying "Happy birthday" to someone. It's simple enough to see that "feliz" is the Spanish word for "happy" although one could also say "contento" when one means that the happiness is a deeper kind of contentment, not just a joyful fleeting feeling.
"Todo bien" is an expression that means everything is all good, like everything is all fine and dandy, or everything is already in order, and nothing else needs to be done.
Making small talk in Spanish is easy if you know some basic phrases to begin with, such as "Que tal" which is something that can follow the basic "Hola" greeting, meaning hi or hello. To differentiate, "Que tal" is "How are you" while "Que pasa" is "What's happening" and "Que haces" is "What are you doing." Although in essence, all of these greetings are merely saying "What's up" in various forms.
"Buen provecho" also means "enjoy your meal." However, "provecho" as a separate word can also mean an advantage or benefit, or even profit if used in a business language sense.
"Hasta pronto!" is what you will say to someone you want to see again very soon. Like in English usage, it could just be a polite way of saying goodbye or you could also really mean it when uttered. "Pronto" literally translates to "soon."
"Puede" is a conjugation of "poder" meaning "to be able to" while "ayudar" is the verb that means "help." So when you ask someone "Puede ayudarme?" you automatically ask them if they can help you directly. But to appear kinder, you can add "por favor" in there, like "Puede ayudarme, por favor" to add the magic word "please."
"Buena suerte" is the Spanish way of saying "Good luck" in whatever endeavor one will undergo. Apparently, luck is a lady in Spanish as well, since the feminine version of "buena" is used here.
"Viaje" literally means a singular trip, "viajes" is travels while "viajero" is traveler. So saying "Buen viaje!" is like saying happy trip, or happy travels, or have a good trip!
It's a tricky thing to say directions in Spanish sometimes, since the wrong letter could spell a whole lot of difference on where you're going. When you say "a la derecha," clearly you want to go right or to turn right. Just make sure you don't say "derecho" because that means to go straight ahead!
"Estoy perdido" is easy enough to be understood by many Spanish-language speakers, since it simply means "I'm lost."
"Dónde" can also be used in the same sense as "Where" when asking for directions or when asking where a specific location is, such as "Dónde esta el baño" or "Where is the bathroom/restroom" or "Dónde vives" meaning "Where do you live." The sentence formation changes depending on the question, like in "De dónde viene" meaning "Where are you from."
"Yo quiero" is how you start a sentence to say "I want" and then proceed with saying what exactly it is that you want. But it can also be a stand-alone phrase or complete sentence if it's a reply to a query on whether you want something or not.