The Ultimate Guide to Filler Words in Spanish for More Natural Conversations
Learn about filler words in Spanish and improve your conversation skills!
Filler words, palabras de relleno or muletillas, are words we use as a pause to imply we are not done speaking. They come in handy when we are hesitant or are trying to remember what to say.
Feel free to use these filler words in Spanish as an opportunity to recover your train of thought in a foreign language! They will help you gain confidence, sound more spontaneous, and make your conversation flow better.
Filler Words in English
What are filler words in Spanish? Let’s start by remembering examples in English. Here are some of the most common filler words in English:
- I mean
- you know
- or something
- and stuff
- oh well
We normally use these for the same reasons in every language, but they don’t translate literally in each case.
Note! The filler sounds “oh” or “um” are similar to the Spanish filler sounds ah, mm.
Filler Words in Spanish
You’ll find this post very useful as it contains the meaning of each phrase, how it translates into English, and some examples to sound like a Spanish native when you use them.
This is the favorite filler word of Mexicans. When we say it everyone knows that we lost our train of thought and we are going to need more than a second to come back. You can translate it literally to “this” but in this case it means something like “say” or “hmm” like the sound you make when you think. Since it is a short word we often extend the last vowel: esteeeee.
Persona 1: ¿Qué me querías decir ayer?
Persona 2: Este, ya no me acuerdo.
Person 1: What did you want to tell me yesterday?
Person 2: Hmm, I don’t remember anymore.
¿Qué te iba a decir?
“What was I going to say?” We use it in English too, so this should be familiar.
¿Qué te iba a decir? ¡Ah sí! ¿Has visto mis lentes?
What was I going to say? Oh, yes! Have you seen my glasses?
Pues is the counterpart of “well,” “sure” or “anyways.”
There are many variants such as:
- Well (pues sí)
- Well, no (pues no)
- Well, nothing (pues nada)
Pues sí, así es esto.
Well, this is how it is.
Learn more: How to Use ‘Pues’ in Spanish
Lo que te quería decir es que
“What I wanted to say was…” This will give you time in Spanish to think about what you were about to say.
Lo que te quería decir es que… me recogieras a las seis por favor.
What I wanted to tell you was… to pick me up at six, please.
This is a very common filler phrase in Spanish, especially when people gossip. When we can’t focus, we tell you to focus—the irony!
Fíjate can translate to “focus” or “notice,” but we say it to mean “let me tell you.”
Fíjate que me subí al camión y olvidé mi cartera ahí.
Let me tell you that I got on the bus and forgot my wallet there.
La cosa es que
These filler words are also common in English conversations. The translation is “the thing is.”
La cosa es que ya no quiero seguir estudiando leyes.
The thing is, I don’t want to study law anymore.
Etcétera / y demás / y tal
These three words are common filler words in Spanish. We use them at the end of the sentences to express that there are a lot more examples.
Compré muchas cosas para la fiesta: globos, gorros, silbatos, confeti, etcétera.
Compré muchas cosas para la fiesta: globos, gorros, silbatos, confeti y demás.
Compré muchas cosas para la fiesta: globos, gorros, silbatos, confeti y tal.
I bought many things for the party: balloons, party hats, whistles, confetti, etc.
Yo no sé, pero
This phrase means “I don’t know but.” In Spanish, we use it as: “I’m not sure, but,” “I didn’t have a part in this decision, but,” “leave me out of it,” or “I don’t want to take part.”
Yo no sé, pero lo que hizo Daniela estuvo mal.
I wouldn’t know, but what Daniela did is wrong.
No sé tú, pero
“I don’t know about you, but” is what you say when you are probably going to part ways with another person.
No sé tú, pero yo me voy a ir temprano aunque llueva.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to leave early even if it rains.
Nada means “nothing” in Spanish. Sometimes you seem to be on track to get to a point but you forget about it. You realize it won’t come back but you are confident that the conclusion is clear regardless so you end up saying y nada.
Me dijo todas esas cosas, me afectó muchísimo y nada, ya no hablamos.
She told me all those things, it affected me deeply and well, we don’t talk anymore.
If we want to translate this phrase literally, it would be “such things,” but we use it as “well, wouldn’t you know,” “what do you know,” and “what can you do?” at the end of the conversation to indicate with resignation there is nothing more to say.
Persona 1: Hoy vi las noticias y tembló en Ecuador, se inundaron ciudades de Nicaragua y hubo un incendio forestal en Colombia.
Persona 2: Qué cosas.
Person 1: Today I saw the news and there was an earthquake in Ecuador, floods in Nicaraguan cities, and a forest fire in Colombia.
Person 2: What can one do!
In Spanish we say “ok” as much as people say it in English. A common, similar term in Spanish is ya.
Persona 1: Necesito que vayas al super.
Persona 2: Ya.
Person 1: I need you to go to the supermarket.
Person 2: Ok.
Learn more: Master the Various Uses of ‘Ya’ in Spanish
We use this filler word in Spanish when explaining something. It prompts that you are about to say another way of looking at something. You can use it as “then” or “meaning.”
Me gustó el desayuno, la comida, la cena; o sea, la comida es buena en ese hotel.
I liked the breakfast, lunch diner, meaning the food was good at that hotel.
Es como si
Just like o sea, this is the cue to an explanation and means “it’s as if.”
Nos gustan las mismas cosas, vamos a los mismos lugares, es como si fuéramos la misma persona.
We like the same things, we go to the same places, it’s as if we were the same person.
No me hagas mucho caso
Sometimes before telling news or gossip we say these filler words in Spanish that mean “don’t pay too much attention to me when I say this” as a way of apologizing for maybe being wrong.
No me hagas mucho caso, pero creo que cerraron ese restaurants.
Don’t pay too much attention to me, but I think they closed that restaurant.
Se me fue la onda
These are both filler words and a confession. Se me fue la onda means that you lost your train of thought and you normally say it while trying to recover the words missing in your head, this gives you time to think and get them.
Después fuimos a la escuela y… ay, se me fue la onda, ya no sé qué te iba a decir.
Later, we went to the school and… Oh, I forgot, I don’t know what I was going to tell you.
No lo digo yo / te lo digo yo
These Spanish filler words are opposites, one phrase translates to “I’m not the one who says it” and the next to “I am telling you.” When you say no lo digo yo, you are using it as a disclaimer to excuse you from any responsibility on the subject. Also, it hints that someone else said it. In the case of te lo digo yo, the phrase usually goes with an opinion.
El arroz estaba delicioso, te lo digo yo.
The rice was delicious, I am telling you.
Híjole, está cañón
These are very common filler words in Spanish, at least in Mexico. They both mean “that’s heavy!” “that’s terrible” or “that’s huge!” You can say them with a tone of surprise, but also sighing as a way of showing support. They can go together or separate.
Persona 1: Ya no sabemos cómo pagar las cuentas.
Persona 2: Híjole, está cañón.
Person 1: We don’t know how to pay the bills.
Person 2: Oh dear, that’s terrible.
This is a very common word—if not the most—in Argentina. The closest translation would be “hey.”
Che, no quiero ir a class.
Hey, I don’t want to go to class.
Check this article to learn more Argentinian Spanish!
Quién lo diría
These filler words in Spanish translation are “who would have guessed?” although it literally means “who would say?” They come out with a sense of surprise.
Persona 1: Armando ya acabó la carrera.
Persona 2: Quién lo diría.
Person 1: Armando has finished his studies.
Person 2: Who would have guessed?
Parece mentira, pero
Some of these filler phrases have at the end Spanish transition words. In this case, that would be the word pero or “but.” This means “it seems like a lie, but” and then you say the thing that isn’t a lie.
Parece mentira pero mi coche viejo sigue funcionando.
It seems like a lie but my old car keeps working.
Si no me equivoco / corrígeme si me equivoco
“If I’m not wrong” or “correct me if I’m wrong” are filler words in Spanish to say something you are not sure about, just like in English.
Corrígeme si me equivoco pero, ¿no querías mudarte a España?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you want to move to Spain?
¿Me entiendes? / ¿me explico?
These Spanish filler words are perfect to wrap up a thought or to conclude. “Do you understand?” ”Am I making myself clear?” go after you have explained everything or almost everything to someone.
Si quiero salir con él pero no quiero herir los sentimientos de nadie, ¿me entiendes?
I do want to go out with him but I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, do you understand?
This one can sound awfully familiar to you and here’s why: it comes from the English word “check” and works as a way of saying “check it out.”
Some variants are:
- Check this out (Checa esto)
- Check out what I am about to tell you (Checa lo que te voy a contar)
Checa esto, es el reloj de mi papá; me encanta.
Check this out, this is my dad’s watch; I love it.
Dale / va / vale
These filler words in Spanish mean something entirely different according to the dictionary.
Dale means “give” as in “give this to your dad”, va means “goes” as in “there it goes,” and vale means “costs” or “voucher” as in “it costs 9 dollars,” or “give me the voucher.”
They can either go with a question mark or an explanation point and they mean “ok,” “cool,” “should we do it?” “Let’s do it!” Dale is more common in countries like Argentina, va in countries like Mexico and vale in Spain.
Persona 1: Vamos al concierto, ¿va?
Persona 2: ¡Va!
Person 1: Let’s go to the concert, should we do it?
Person 2: Let’s do it!
La verdad / la mera verdad / la pura verdad
The truth, the whole truth, and strictly the truth. You can use the first one between almost any kind of sentences. The other filler words in Spanish come with either a confession or while trying to make another person agree with you.
La verdad, no sé si lo que hice estuvo bien.
To tell the truth, I don’t know if what I did was right.
Según yo / según esto / según
Según means “according to” and it can go with other filler words in Spanish like “me,” “this” or even go alone in a sentence. The last one implies that it is hearsay and it excuses you from any responsibility.
Según yo, la casa de Ana es por aquí.
According to me, Ana’s house is nearby.
Yo digo que
Yo digo que is a Spanish phrase that means “what I say is” and goes before saying your opinion on something. It also is a polite way of saying what you think when everyone wants it another way.
Yo digo que vayamos a la fiesta y no le digamos a nadie.
I say we go to the party and don’t tell anyone.
Digo / digamos que
Other versions of these filler words are: supongo que, supongamos que, and imagínate que.
The translations of these filler words in Spanish are I say (digo), let’s say (digamos que), I suppose (supongo que), let’s suppose (supongamos que), and imagine (imagínate que).
Supongamos que nos vamos a Italia; ¿cómo lo vamos a pagar?
Let’s suppose that we go to Italy, how are we going to pay for that?
A ver, mira
“Let’s see, look” is the literal translation of this phrase. You can use these words together or separately. They go before an explanation or before saying something long like a process.
A ver, mira, tú pones la comida y yo pongo la casa para la fiesta.
Let’s see, here, you can be in charge of the food, and I can offer my house for the party.
Let’s See, Let’s Learn Spanish! (A ver, ¡aprendamos español!)
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