50 Basic Spanish Words and Phrases to Learn for Beginners (2023)

Planning a trip to a Spanish-speaking country? Chances are you’ll meet locals who can speak English. But you’ll be surprised how much a few Spanish words can improve your experience! Locals will appreciate that you’re making the effort to communicate in their language — it shows that you’re a friendly and respectful guest.

So what are some basic Spanish words you need to know? Boost your survival Spanish with the common Spanish words and phrases below.

If you want to go a step further and learn to speak the basics naturally, try 1-on-1 Spanish lessons with an online tutor. You’ll be speaking from lesson one, so even a crash course of five hours will make a huge difference!

50 Basic Spanish words and phrases

Here are 50 of the most common Spanish words and phrases to bookmark ahead of your next trip. Scroll down to learn how they’re used in context!

Spanish word or phraseEnglish translation
Me llamoMy name is
Mi Nombre esMy name is
Hola, soy MarkusHi, I’m Markus
¿Cómo te llamas?What is your name?
(Yo) tengo … añosI am … years old.
(Yo) soy de… I come from…
Buenos díasGood morning
Buenas tardesGood afternoon
Buenas nochesGood evening / Good night
¿Cómo está usted?How are you? (formal)
¿Cómo estás? How are you? (informal)
¿Qué tal?How are you? (informal) / What’s up?
¿Cómo te va?How’s it going?
¿Qué haces? What are you doing?
¿Qué pasa?What’s happening?
Bien, graciasGood, thank you
Muy bienVery well
Así, asíSo, so
Como siempreAs always
¿Y tú?And you?
¡Gracias!Thank you!
¡Muchas gracias! Thank you very much!
¡De nada!You’re welcome! / No problem!
Por favorPlease
¡Perdon!Excuse me!
¡Disculpe!Excuse me!
¡Lo siento! Sorry!
¿Por qué…?Why?
¿Cuál? Which?
¿Qué hora tienes?What time is it?
¿De dónde viene?Where are you from?
¿Dónde vives?Where do you live?
¿Puede ayudarme? Can you help me?
¿Podría ayudarle?Can I help you?
¿Cuánto cuesta eso?How much does it cost?
¿Entiende?Do you understand?
¡Puede repetirlo!Can you say that again?
¿Qué significa [word]?What does [word] mean?
¿Puedes hablar más despacio?Can you speak slowly?
¿Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi?Where can I find a taxi?
¿Dónde está [hotel’s name] hotel?Where is [hotel’s name] hotel?
Tal vez Maybe
ClaroOf course

Spanish greetings and responses

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Of course, you can’t expect to have some small talk without knowing some Spanish greetings. One of the most popular words in Spanish is “hola” which means “hi” or “hello”. You can also use the following Spanish expressions:

  • Buenos días — Good morning
  • Buenas tardes — Good afternoon
  • Buenas noches — Good evening / Good night

To keep the conversation going, it’s time to ask “how are you”. Here are some basic Spanish questions that come after greeting:

  • ¿Cómo está usted? — How are you? (formal)
  • ¿Cómo estás? — How are you? (informal)
  • ¿Qué tal? — How are you? (informal) / What’s up?
  • ¿Cómo te va? — How’s it going?
  • ¿Qué haces? — What are you doing?
  • ¿Qué pasa? — What’s happening?

If someone asks you one of these questions, you can use the following conversational Spanish phrases:

  • Bien, gracias — Good, thank you
  • Muy bien — Very well
  • Así, así — So, so
  • Como siempre — As always

And also don’t forget about this fundamental follow-up question:

  • ¿Y tú? — And you?

If you feel like it’s time to switch to English, you’re free to clarify whether the person you’re talking to speaks English or not. Just say “¿Habla inglés?” that is used for “Do you speak English?”.

How to introduce yourself in Spanish

If you want to introduce yourself, you can say:

  • Me llamo — My name is
  • Mi nombre es — My name is

But you can also start with another simple Spanish word “soy” which means “I am”. For example:

  • Hola, soy Markus — Hi, I’m Markus

To ask the name of a person you’re talking to, you can say:

  • ¿Cómo te llamas? — What is your name?

When you’re introduced to someone, you should say “mucho gusto”. Its literal translation is “pleasure”. Although it sounds too formal in English, this important Spanish phrase can also be translated as “nice to meet you”.

Here are more simple Spanish phrases to use when you need to talk about yourself:

  • (Yo) tengo … años — I am … years old.
  • (Yo) soy de — I come from

Want to practice some easy ways to introduce yourself in Spanish? Check out our short video:

Polite words and expressions in Spanish

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No matter what your mother tongue is, the simple words of politeness always go a long way. These Spanish phrases will surely come in handy during the conversation if you don’t want to offend anyone:

  • ¡Gracias! — Thank you!
  • ¡Muchas gracias! — Thank you very much!
  • ¡De nada! — You’re welcome! / No problem!
  • Por favor — Please (generally used at the end of a sentence)
  • ¡Perdon! — Excuse me!
  • ¡Disculpe! — Excuse me! (to apologize in advance for being a bit of a bother)
  • ¡Lo siento! — Sorry! (to apologize for a mistake)

Question words in Spanish

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If you want to make your conversation with other people really effective, you have to know how to ask questions. So, here is a list of Spanish question words you need to memorize right away:

  • ¿Qué…? — What?
  • ¿Quién…? — Who?
  • ¿Cuándo…? — When?
  • ¿Dónde…? — Where?
  • ¿Por qué…? — Why?
  • ¿Cuál? — Which?
  • ¿Cómo…? — How?

Pay attention that question words in Spanish always come with an accent and opening as well as closing question mark.

Just imagine that you’re abroad. What should you do when you suddenly need to ask for help? Or if you want to buy something at a souvenir shop? Of course, a handy Spanish dictionary in your pocket will certainly help, but it could take time for you to find the right phrase. To make sure you keep the conversation flowing, it’s crucial to learn basic Spanish sentences (questions and answers) before you go abroad, so that you’ll be able to cope with any problems once they crop up.

Here are some examples of useful questions to learn:

  • ¿Qué hora tienes? — What time is it?
  • ¿De dónde viene? — Where are you from?
  • ¿Dónde vives? — Where do you live?
  • ¿Puede ayudarme? — Can you help me?
  • ¿Podría ayudarle? — Can I help you?
  • ¿Cuánto cuesta eso? — How much does it cost?
  • ¿Qué hora tienes? — What time is it?
  • ¿Entiende? — Do you understand?
  • ¡Puede repetirlo! — Can you say that again?
  • ¿Qué significa [word]? — What does [word] mean?
  • ¿Puedes hablar más despacio? — Can you speak slowly?
  • ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi? — Where can I find a taxi?
  • ¿Dónde está [hotel’s name] hotel? — Where is [hotel’s name] hotel?
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And of course, you should know what to answer:

  • Sí — Yes
  • No — No
  • Tal vez — Maybe
  • Siempre — Always
  • Nunca — Never
  • Claro — Of course
  • ¡Sin problema! — No problem!
  • No entiendo — I don’t understand!
  • No (lo) sé — I don’t know!
  • No tengo ni idea — I have no idea!
  • No hablo español — I don’t speak Spanish
  • Estoy perdido — I’m lost
  • Mi español es malo — My Spanish is bad

Most common Spanish verbs: have, need, want

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With this list of Spanish verbs, you’ll have a firm foundation for creating sentences in different circumstances. Basic Spanish for travelers is based on these simple words: to have (tener), to want (querer), to need (necesitar).

If you want to ask whether someone has something you need, you may say “¿Tienes…?” followed by a necessary noun. When you’re at the hotel, you might ask the receptionist;

  • ¿Tienes las amenidades de baño? — Do you have bathroom amenities?

You could also say “necesito” if you need something. Are you at the railway station and want to buy a ticket? Just say:

  • Necesito un boleto a Seattle — I need a ticket to Seattle

Any time you want something, you can say “quiero”. For example:

  • Yo quiero un café — I want a cup of coffee

Using these uncomplicated constructions, you’ll be easily understood and find a way out of any situation. Just add the right noun to the required verb, but don’t forget to conjugate it correctly.

Want to know how to conjugate Spanish verbs? Check out our article “The Ultimate Guide to Spanish Conjugations”.

How to celebrate in Spanish

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There are various expressions in Spanish used for special occasions. These phrases are perfect for events like birthdays, party or dinner with friends:

  • ¡Feliz Cumpleaños! — Happy Birthday!
  • ¡Felicitaciones! — Congratulations!
  • ¡Diviértete! — Have fun!
  • ¡Buen provecho! — Bon appetit!
  • ¡Bienvenidos! / ¡Bienvenidas! — Welcome!
  • Salud! — Cheers!

How to say goodbye in Spanish

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It’s always hard to say goodbye, especially if you don’t know how to do it properly. Here are some popular Spanish phrases to help you end a conversation:

  • Adiós — Goodbye
  • Chao — Goodbye
  • Hasta luego — See you later (most likely today)
  • Until tomorrow — See you tomorrow
  • See you — See you (informal)
  • Take care! —Take care!
  • Have a nice day! — Have a nice day!
  • Bye now! — See you soon!
  • Good trip! — Have a good trip!

Final thoughts

So now you have the right key words to help you get started on your Spanish language journey. With these useful phrases, you’ll soon find yourself having your first conversation with a native Spanish speaker.

The best way to learn these words is by practicing regularly and learning Spanish online. Preply offers 1-on-1 lessons with native Spanish tutors, so you can easily find an expert and start putting your knowledge into practice right away.

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