Learning a new language is a long process. When I began learning English as a kid, it took a lot of time to memorize vocabulary and complete practice exercises. Practice and study are the keys to truly masterig another language.
If you are new to learning Spanish or you have just been practicing it for a little bit, I bet you’ve had moments where someone told you something in Spanish and you had no idea what they just said. It happens! There are some Spanish phrases you won’t yet understand. It’s okay to have these blank moments.
To help you build confidence despite these kinds of situations, I’ve put together a list of the 25 essential Spanish phrases for beginners.
Practice them today. Memorize them as soon as you can. And use them often!
Want more Spanish basics?
Check out Spanish for Dummies.
Greetings are important because they are our conversation openers. You probably already know hola, but asking how someone is doing is also an important skill to have. You can greet someone in Spanish in many ways (check out Spanish Greetings for more information), but here are the basic Spanish phrases for greetings:
However, these last three Spanish phrases can be used as greetings and also as a way of saying goodbye. Surprisingly, they mean the same in both situations.
Responses to greetings
Saying hello is important. On the other hand, being able to respond to a greeting is fundamental if you want to avoid those awkward pauses. These responses help to keep the conversation flowing. Here’s the list of short, basic responses that are super easy to learn:
Likewise, farewells in Spanish are good to know so you don’t leave a conversation hanging open. Just like not being able to respond, leaving without saying goodbye would be very awkward. To avoid that, here is the list of Spanish phrases to say goodbye:
Polite Spanish Phrases
People in Spanish-speaking countries are very kind and polite toward tourists and people that can’t speak the language fluently. If you are traveling aboard, for example, the locals will gladly help you with anything you need. Therefore, you need to know some Spanish phrases to respond to their politeness:
In addition, perdón and disculpa can also be used for “excuse me.”
Questions are half of a conversation. For instance, they help when you want to get to know someone, but also if you don’t know something, or if you want to ask for help. This is why earning to say those questions in Spanish is very important.
Questions in Spanish start with one of these phrases: Cómo, Cuándo, Por qué, Quién, Qué, and Dónde. In English, these are: How, When, Why, Who, What, and Where. To clarify, here is a short list of Spanish questions:
Other Useful Spanish Phrases
All of the Spanish phrases above are very useful and important to know if you want to have a fluid conversation in Spanish. There are many other phrases you can learn, but here are the last three I consider useful so you can learn:
I really hope these 25 essential Spanish phrases are useful to you. I can guarantee that if you learn these you will not have that many moments where you don’t know how to respond. These phrases will help you understand what others are saying and how to respond to them. Also, learning these phrases will help you further your studies of the Spanish language. If you are looking for more phrases and important things to know in Spanish, check out our post on how to Learn Spanish in 5 months!
Want more Spanish resources? Check these out!
- Pronunciation in Spanish and How to Master B/V
- Differences between Latin American and Castilian Spanish
- Learn the Top 100 High-Frequency Spanish Words and How to Use Them
- The Ultimate Valentine’s Day Guide in Spanish
- Is Spanish Hard to Learn?
- Foreign Language Credits 101: How to Earn Spanish Credits for College
- Groovin’ Instrument Words in Spanish
- Make New Friends Through Sports: Fútbol vs. Football
- Top 6 Free Apps to Learn Spanish for Beginners
- Nouns in Spanish: Everything A Beginner Wants to Know
Spring Break is coming, and you may be thinking about traveling somewhere new. If you don’t yet have a destination in mind, consider Guatemala! People call this small country the land of eterna primavera, or ‘eternal spring’. Guatemalan weather is the perfect spring climate, because of how tropical the country is. There may be some rain, but usually the air is fresh, the sky is blue with a few clouds, and the sun shines without being bothersome. Additionally, there are many different touristic places across the country that fit everyone’s tastes. For example, you can find beaches, volcanoes, Mayan ruins, and the list goes on. Guatemala is the perfect getaway for your Spring Break adventures!
There are so many places you could visit, but I have prepared a list of my top 5 places in the country that you can visit during your Spring Break.
Top 5 Spring Break Destinations in Guatemala
5) San Pedro La Laguna
Guatemala is famous for Lake Atitlán, which is located in the Sololá department. Plenty of people travel to Guatemala during Spring Break just to see this beautiful lake. There are many towns around the lake, but San Pedro La Laguna is the most famous due to its cuisine and multiple places to relax. The variety of restaurants in San Pedro La Laguna is by far the best in Atitlán. There are many exotic places which offer food from other countries, but the best are the ones that offer national food. There are many restaurants and hotels that have a beautiful view of Lake Atitlán and the volcanoes around the lake, so you can enjoy a nice meal with an extraordinary view.
You can also find many coffee shops. You may have already heard about Guatemala because its coffee is famous throughout the world. All the coffee shops and restaurants in San Pedro la Laguna offer coffee that is cultivated by the locals. Make sure to read about all the things you do in San Pedro!
4) Semuc Champey
Semuc Champey is one of the most beautiful natural monuments in Guatemala. It is located in the Alta Verapaz department and is made up of a 300m limestone bridge. Underneath this bridge runs the River Cahabón, which will leave you speechless with its beauty. The river changes colors from green to turquoise to blue because of its crystalline water.
Semuc Champey is attractive to those who enjoy water sports, especially rafting. Many hotels and other companies offer rafting on the river, which is a great way to explore the river.
Another amazing thing to do in Semuc Champey is hiking on the different trails found nearby. Tropical forest surrounds Semuc Champey, and it provides with beautiful sights of local fauna and flora. You won’t want to pass up this opportunity; go ahead and start planning your trip here.
3) Yaxhá National Park
Guatemala is the heart of the Mayan Civilization. There are multiple ruins all throughout the country. The most famous one, and the one you have probably heard about, is Tikal. This ancient city is really beautiful and it has a lot of history involving the Mayans. However, there is another archaeological site in the Petén department that is just as amazing as Tikal, called Yaxhá National Park. This city is just two hours away from Tikal, and it is a secret Mayan city.
Many of the ruins in Yaxhá date from the pre-Columbian Mayan civilization and archeologists are still finding new ruins around the area. Here, you can find Mayan temples, ceremonial sites, sports fields, astronomical observatories, and many other structures built by the Mayans. Plus, an amazing bonus is that you can watch the sunset from the top of one of the Mayan temples. It is such a beautiful experience!
Yaxhá is the best option when visiting Petén during Spring Break. Due to the time of year, Tikal is usually crowded. Yaxhá doesn’t get as crowded because it is not very famous and your experience would be more pleasant. Book your trip to Yaxhá now!
2) La Sierra de los Cuchumatanes
If you are interested in cold weather and hiking activities, Sierra de los Cuchumatanes is the perfect place for you. This is the highest non-volcanic mountain range in Guatemala, and it is located in the Huehuetenango and El Quiché departments. These mountains occupy around 15% of the Guatemalan territory, and because of their altitude, they provide the most amazing sights you will ever see!
The most famous place in Sierra de los Cuchumatanes is the ‘Mirador Juan Diéguez Olaverri’ (see photo above), named after a Guatemalan poet. There are multiple stone engravings with the stanzas he wrote about the mountain range. Additionally, in Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, you can find multiple hiking trails that take you around the mountains. These trails allow you to explore the beautiful flora and fauna that grow in those mountains. If you are interested in booking a hike in los Cuchumatanes, visit this website to get started!
1) Semana Santa in Antigua Guatemala
I really love having Antigua, Guatemala as my number one place to visit during Spring Break because of Semana Santa. Everyone in Guatemala celebrates Holy Week; however, in Antigua, we have one of our most treasured traditions. During Semana Santa, sawdust carpets decorate the streets of Antigua. These carpets are designed to guide the processions. They are made with many colors and show beautiful handmade designs. People dress up and walk around the streets of Antigua carrying figures that represent religious beliefs from the Catholic church.
The whole event is a beautiful feast for the eyes. People participate in processions every day during Semana Santa and tend to decorate not only the streets but also their own houses. So, if you go to Antigua during Semana Santa, you will certainly find every door, window, and street decorated. You will even find small events where locals teach you how to do the sawdust carpets, so you can take part in the tradition and get a taste of Guatemalan culture.
Check out this website for tips on how to make the most out of your trip to Antigua during Semana Santa. Or, if you want to learn more while practicing your Spanish, read this article about Semana Santa!
I hope you find these five places interesting, and that you get to visit at least one of them during your Spring Break. Guatemala is a beautiful country, and it is full of a cultural heritage that can be explored in every touristic place. You only need to visit one place to fall in love with the country, and I hope one of these five places do the trick!
And while you’re visiting, you can practice your Spanish! Locals are very kind to tourists, so don’t be shy to try some Spanish phrases every now and then during your trip. You may practice while you ask for directions or while ordering some food at a restaurant. You will get plenty of opportunities to practice and learn new things. Be sure to study our Spanish for Dummies guide before you go!Read More
Spanish is a really fun language to learn. There are so many countries that speak Spanish, so learning it is funbecause it is very diverse and interesting. Maybe you are learning Spanish so you can become bilingual, or perhaps you are planning on traveling to a Spanish-speaking country. Learning Spanish can be quick and easy once you start with the basics. I have prepared a quick guide of ‘Spanish for Dummies’ which will teach you common phrases that will be useful in various situations that may arise in your travels or conversations.
Before we go into it, let’s talk about different ways to address people:
In English it only exists ‘you,’ but in Spanish we have ‘tú’ (tooh) and ‘usted.’ (oohs-tehd)
Tú is used when you know the person very well. It is a more personal way of addressing other people, like family and friends.
Usted is the proper form, which we use when talking to someone you don’t know very well. You can also use it towards someone older than you or a professional, like a police officer or a fireman. If you would like to learn more about Spanish pronouns, be sure to read our Spanish Pronouns blog!
Spanish for Dummies: Greetings
We’ll begin our Spanish for Dummies guide with some basics. Greetings are some of the most important things to learn. In general, Spanish-speaking countries are very polite so it is nice to start a conversation with a small greeting. Let’s start with the easy ones!
We normally use ‘Hola’ with someone you know very well.
When talking to someone you just met or to a group of people, you can use ‘Buenos días,’ ‘Buenas tardes,’ or ‘Buenas noches.’
Interestingly, ‘Buenas noches’ is used for both ‘good evening’ and ‘good night.’ It is used for ‘good evening’ at the start of an event or when you meet someone on the streets at night time and as ‘good night’ when you go to bed.
In Spanish, we use these three phrases often. Not only as a greeting but also when introducing yourself to a group.
When you meet someone new, the polite thing to say is ‘mucho gusto,’ or ‘nice to meet you.’
There are two ways of asking ‘How are you?’ in Spanish.
- ¿Cómo estás? – personal form (see above)
- ¿Cómo está? – proper form (see above)
To answer the above questions, you can say ‘bien, gracias,’ which means ‘good, thanks.’
Other good phrases to know in Spanish are ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome.’ The former is ‘gracias’ and the latter is ‘de nada.’ You should also know that ‘por favor’ means ‘please.’
For more information on Spanish Greetings, check out this blog!
Spanish for Dummies: Farewells
Once the conversation is flowing, it would be really awkward to just walk away from it. Conversations need to have a closure, which is why farewells are just as important as greetings in any language.
The most basic farewell is ‘goodbye,’ or ‘Adiós’ (ah-di-os) in Spanish.
The two phrases ‘buenas tardes’ and ‘buenas noches’ (which are used as greetings) can also be used as a way to say goodbye. You may also use ‘que tenga buen día’ to say goodbye in the morning.
However, those aren’t the only phrases you can use when saying goodbye. Check out the following list!
Spanish for Dummies: Questions
When you are still learning to dominate the language, you may find yourself asking a lot of questions. A good thing to have handy is a list of Spanish question words to help you out on the go. Write these down on a piece of paper, keep them in your wallet or on a note in your phone so that you always have them with you.
Spanish for Dummies: Small Talk
Having a conversation is Spanish may seem scary at first, but it really isn’t that hard once you start. Small talk is the best when you want to start a conversation. Check out our list of questions you can ask to get the conversation going.
Asking questions, however, is not the only thing you should be able to do. An important part of Spanish for Dummies is participating in a conversation by answering questions or talking about yourself. Practice answering the questions using the above prompts!
Spanish for Dummies: Asking for Directions
When visiting a Spanish-speaking country for the first time, you will definitely ask for directions at some point. Asking a local for help is the way to go since they are likely to know exactly where you’re headed.
There are two ways of saying ‘Where is?’ in Spanish. You can say ‘¿Dónde está?’ (dohn-day ehs-tah) when you’re talking about a specific place. This means places that are usually referred to with ‘the…’ (Ex: Where is the restroom? – ¿Dónde está el baño). You can also use ‘¿Dónde hay?’ (dohn-day ayh) which is used when you’re not talking about a specific place. This means places which are referred to with ‘a…’ (Ex: Where is a restroom? – ¿Dónde hay un baño?)
In our Guide of Spanish for Dummies, we have prepared a small list of things you may hear when asking for directions:
If you would like more information on giving directions using some Spanish commands, click here for our blog!
Spanish for Dummies: Transportation
Transportation is very important when you are traveling. Most of the Spanish-speaking countries have different ways of transportations. There are buses, rented cars, taxis, and even Uber! They are not much different than the ones you are used to. Here is a list of the different vehicles you can use for transportation and a list of questions that will help you get around:
Spanish for Dummies: Asking for help
Being able to ask someone for help in Spanish is super important; I’ve had to do numerous times! You might be trying to find something, or maybe want to let someone know you aren’t proficient in the language. It is imperative to be able to communicate those kinds of things. Here are some phrases that will help you:
Spanish for Dummies: Useful Vocabulary
The last thing we would like to add in our Quick Guide of Spanish for Dummies is a list of vocabulary. These words and phrases are useful to know because they can help you understand what other people are saying and help improve your own conversational skills.
The names of certain places are also important to know. They can be useful to ask for directions or to talk about where you’ve been.
The names of certain foods and other things are also very useful. Here is a list of things you may encounter:
Let’s practice with an example of all these phrases in a conversation:
If you learn all the things we have listed above, you are sure to have a successful conversation in Spanish! We hope you can use our quick guide of Spanish for Dummies for any upcoming travels or opportunities you may have.
Do you want more Spanish basics? Check out our playlist of videos you can use to accompany your Spanish learning!Read More