Exploring the Market in Spanish
The market is an explosion of colors, sounds, and smells like no other! And shopping in Spanish—or in any foreign language—is a culturally enriching experience. (While you’re in Guatemala, you may want to visit the Top 5 Spring Break Destinations!)
Check out our latest video! If you’re an auditory learner, it will be a great way to learn some new phrases and vocabulary that will be useful in the market. If you want a printable version of this blog, fill out the form below.
What is the mercado?
At the mercado, you will find colorful produce of all kinds. You will hear women yelling the names of the products they sell, see men walking around holding so many things you wonder how they can even walk. The market is full of fruits, vegetables, flowers, freshly prepared meals, and more! This is all part of the shopping in Spanish adventure we’ll embark on today!
At the market you can get pretty much anything from baby clothes to crafting supplies, fabrics, cooking utensils, stationery, and baskets! Now, in order to buy all the things that you want, you will need to know some vocabulary. Let’s explore the mercado together and learn how to shop in Spanish!
Shopping in Spanish: The Basics
Before we venture into the market, we need to learn some phrases that will be useful in order to know the prices of things. We will also need to know how to ask for a certain something. Let’s start with prices:
There will be a lot of not knowing what things are because there are tons of produce that we’re just not used to! It’s nice to know the names of things – and to have a little notebook to write the names down. The ladies at the mercado are usually super nice, so they can help you write it down if you nicely ask for help! Find even more tips on how to learn Spanish here!
A Cultural Side Note
Por favor and gracias. Please and thank you!
Politeness is important in Guatemala. Here, people will treat you differently if you’re impolite to them! You’re visiting a different culture, so it’s important to take this into account. You’d appreciate the same if someone visited your house.
If you noticed, the conjugation of dar (deme) is in usted instead of in tú. (Deme is an imperative form—a command. Learn about Spanish commands here and here!) Why? In Guatemala, we use the usted form to show respect to older people or to create a respectful distance between the person we’re speaking with and us. Learn more about personal pronouns here.
Let’s visit the mercado and go shopping in Spanish
It really is a one-of-a-kind experience that is amazing to wander through el mercado. Most Latin American markets are like labyrinths and everything is so colorful. It’s extremely easy to get distracted and lost!
I live in Antigua Guatemala, where the headquarters of Homeschool Spanish Academy is! Whenever I go to the market, I visit the biggest one in Antigua! My first stop is always the veggies stand! To get there, I go past the stands with clothing and shoes, burned DVDs, electronics, and beauty supplies. I always make sure I’m on the right path a couple of times because everything looks the same and I get easily lost. Then…yes! Here we are on my favorite veggie stand on the corner close to the meat section (the only way I remember where it is).
This is not like a supermarket. Things are not tagged, so you need to ask how much everything is!
Shopping in Spanish at el supermercado
The supermarket is completely different from to the mercado. You can find signs on the aisles and prices on things! I know this sounds obvious, but believe me. Once you’ve been to a mercado, nothing is ever the same again.
I like to buy my miel (honey) from a local honey farm because I’ve been to that place and I know those are happy bees, they produce high-quality honey and their honey has no added sugars! If you’re ever in Antigua Guatemala and are interested in bees, go pay them a visit! They offer honey farm tours: Bee Miel.
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