Did you know that more than 400 million people worldwide speak Spanish? That makes it the second-most spoken language on the planet, behind only Chinese. Spanish speakers can be found on nearly every continent, with the largest number in South America, followed by North America and Europe. Spanish is the official language of 21 nations.
Of course, there are a lot of regional variations in Spanish -- in fact, in Spain you'll sometimes hear the language called "Castellano," not "Espanol," so proud are the people of Spain about their brand of Spanish, Castilian Spanish. And with regional differences in what words and phrases mean, there's plenty of opportunity to make a faux pas -- so stick to the basics, while you keep your ears open and learn what means what. (As with English, there are plenty of innocent-seeming words that have come to have sexual meanings!)
But don't be too worried -- it almost never gives offense when you try to communicate with people in their own language, even when you stumble. Remember, too, that English and Spanish are closely related -- both of them are descended from Latin, just like Italian and French.
With all that in mind, we've put together this quiz on some of the basics you'll need to get along in a conversation with a Spanish speaker. Do you know "bien" from "bueno," or "tardes" from "noches?" Settle in and prove it with our quiz!