Saying “Buen Provecho” and Other Table Manners in Spanish
Learn everything about the phrase buen provecho in Spanish and other table manners!
Spanish is a polite language. At least in Mexico, many of the mom sayings have to do with politeness and manners. Saying “thank you,” “bless you,” “you’re welcome,” and buen provecho is a must in Latin America.
If you’re planning a trip to a Hispanic country or dining with a Spanish speaker, this post is for you! Keep reading to learn how to say provecho in Spanish, as well as other related phrases and relevant etiquette tips.
What Buen provecho Means
What does provecho mean in Spanish when eating? Provecho or buen provecho generally translates to “enjoy your meal,” but it has many implied meanings as well.
1. Enjoy Your Meal
This is a wish similar to saying “I hope your food is delicious and that you savor it.” Buen provecho in this sense is a way of saying “bon appétit!”
2. Benefit From Your Meal
The verb aprovechar means “to benefit from” or “to take advantage of.” That’s why buen provecho also means “I hope your food is nutritious and is good for your body.”
3. Let’s Eat
Provecho in Spanish is also a phrase that kicks off eating. It is a way of saying “let’s eat!” or “everyone may start eating.” People don’t start until someone says these words and everyone follows, either at a restaurant or in a Latin American household.
4. Good Table Manners
Saying buen provecho or provecho in Spanish is part of polite protocol when dining.
See also: 52 Authentic Mexican Foods that have Influenced Global Cuisine
As you can see it is important to say buen provecho, but how and when will you use it?
When Is It Used?
You say provecho in Spanish every time you eat. At breakfast, lunch, or dinner, whether you’re with family or you have guests.
How Is It Used?
Technically, buen provecho is a pleonasm, which implies that the meaning of the first word overlaps with the second. Buen means good and provecho means benefit.
You can’t have a bad benefit, so feel free to omit the word buen. It is a common everyday phrase, so no one will point at you for saying provecho in Spanish.
This phrase goes hand in hand with other parts of protocol: as you say it before you start eating, everyone must already have food on their plates. You cannot begin if someone is missing or if the waiter delayed an order. If this is the case and your food is getting cold, you will have to excuse yourself.
Ustedes me disculparán pero empezaré a comer para que no se enfríe mi comida; provecho.
I apologize but I will start eating so that my food doesn’t get cold, bon appétit.
Yo creo que será mejor que empiecen a comer los que ya tienen comida porque se enfría; provecho.
I think it’s better that the ones with food on their plates start eating because it’s getting cold, enjoy your meal.
How To Respond to Buen Provecho
The way of responding to buen provecho in Spanish is simply by saying the same thing or the short version, provecho. In Mexico, it’s common to say the diminutive of the word—provechito (little benefit). It doesn’t mean “may you have a small benefit from your meal,” it’s just an endearing way of saying it.
You use this term only with family and close friends, not with colleagues or in a formal situation. Saying provechito, at least in Mexico, makes you sound native. The people around you will know that you have a deeper understanding of the Spanish language.
See also: The Mexican Meat Market, Your Guide to the Spanish Butcher Shop!
Conversation at a Friend’s House After Ordering Food
Persona 1: ¡Ya llegó la comida!
Persona 2: Yo ya puse la mesa.
Persona 1: Huele muy bien, buen provecho.
Persona 2: Provechito.
Person 1: The food has arrived
Person 2: I already set the table.
Person 1: It smells really good; enjoy your meal.
Person 2: Enjoy your meal.
Conversation at a Restaurant With Family
Persona 1: Esperen a que llegue la comida de Fernando.
erson 1: Wait until Fernando’s plate arrives.
The waiter serves Fernando.
Persona 1: Ahora sí, ¡buen provecho a todos!
Person 1: Ok, enjoy your meal everyone!
Other Table Manners
Knowing when and how to use buen provecho in Spanish isn’t the whole etiquette in Latin America. Here’s a small list of the basic things you need to know before enjoying your meal.
- Wait until the host says buen provecho and has the first bite
- Use your hands to eat tacos, quesadillas, or tlayudas
- If the restaurant provides you with cloth napkins, lay them on your lap while eating
- Call the waiter for the bill. In Latin America, we make eye contact with them and a hand gesture as if we are signing in the air.
- Make conversation over sweet bread, cookies or other desserts and coffee. This space is called sobremesa, which literally means “over table.” We like to connect with each other and ask questions, dive into anecdotes or any kind of conversation. This is where you shine with your Spanish knowledge!
Fun fact: In Mexico, people never pass a salt shaker from hand to hand. Instead, they place it on the table close to the person who is asking for it. Doing otherwise is bad luck. Echarse la sal literally translates to “throwing salt at yourself” but it means “throwing bad luck at yourself.”
Polite Phrases in Spanish
|you’re welcome||de nada|
|can you pass me the limes?||¿me puedes pasar los limones?|
|can we get the bill?||¿nos manda la cuenta?|
|can you bring us sauce?||¿nos trae salsa por favor?|
|your service was outstanding!||¡su servicio fue sobresaliente!|
|the food was delicious||la comida estuvo deliciosa|
|compliments to the chef!||¡felicitaciones al chef!|
See also: 200 Vocabulary Words for Herbs and Spices in Spanish
Practice Your Table Manners in Spanish
You must be hungry after this buen provecho in Spanish lesson! If you are interested in Hispanic food culture, read about 15 Must-Try National Dishes of Latin America. And if you have an upcoming trip, you should seriously consider moving forward with your language knowledge.
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