The food: chuchitos, caldos, pupusas, every kind of taco, and a rainbow of colorful tortillas. ¡Qué rico!
The scenery: mountains, beaches, and famous ruins with mangrove rivers leading jungle. Beautiful.
The wildlife: viscous jaguars and scorpions, sweet llamas, and flying squirrels. Alive.
We. Love. Latin America.
So, obviously we want you to come and visit us, but not only that. Let’s plan a summer-long trip. Can you imagine? Sounds great, right? Well, summer is only 5 months away so you have PLENTY of time to pack, update your passport, and book all your hotels. But what about your Spanish?
5 months. Just give us 5 months, and we swear we can get you on the right track right for your trip to Latin America! In fact, you should probably jump over to our latest blog Spanish for Dummies which is a quick guide to get all of your basics and FUNdementals down.
How do you learn ‘Travel Spanish’ in 5 months?
That was the initial pitch. Now comes the ‘How.’ To help you out, we did some investigation. The first was with students from a local English class and we asked them, ‘What advice would you give to travelers who want to learn Spanish in 5 months?’
Oh, the enthusiasm in the ADULT classroom! We had never seen so much enthusiasm even when we brought doughnuts that one time… In the midst of all of the shouts, consejos, and ideas, the most agreed upon methods were:
- Learn key phrases and statements
- Tandem conversation partner
- Practice every day on an application
- Book classes at academies in each country that you visit
Learn key Questions: 6 Q’s
The best thing about travel is that you will most likely be making requests or basic commentary to the native Spanish speakers around you. All of the memory-making is thankfully going to be done with you and your traveling compadres. We trust that you have done the easiest things and booked all of your travel, hotel, and activities before your arrival. However, some of these phrases could possibly help in those areas too.
Learn key Statements: Compliments, Abilities, and Wants
So now that we have all of the questions out of the way, let’s add a little bit of personality to our Spanish for Travelers! Show them what you can do and what you like so you can try to participate in the culture!
Tandem conversation partners:
Woah! All of that Travel Spanish is going to be so useful for you to participate in the culture, advocate for yourself, and travel with such ease. But, what are you going to do when people respond?! Woah! There are so many different kinds of answers for these questions and any other comments that you make. Because of that, we recommend tandem conversation. Bring this list of questions and statements to a native speaker in your own community and pretend you are in the jungle or some other exotic place. You will FOR SURE learn multiple kinds of responses. Check out your local libraries or after school/university programs as well.
If you cannot find a native speaker to help you.
If you cannot find a native speaker to help you through your imaginary jungle – either concrete or full of cobras – we suggest you find recommended online sites like Homeschool Spanish Academy.
Yes, even us at HSA! After all, we are a Spanish academy based in Central America, and all of our teachers are native speakers. Because of this, our classes offer the most most life-like learning experience possible that would help you in your travels! When you get to Guatemala, you could actually say that you have friends here who you have talked to already. Check out our sign-up page to start the tandem conversing NOW!
Practice every day on an application
Tandem conversation, memorizing phrases, and asking questions will really get you far in your Travelers Spanish, but what about vocab and the BASICS? Well, in the midst of our ‘sample advice group,’ there was a HUGE agreement that using applications every day for at least 20 min will help build vocabulary and all of the basics that tandem conversation will not blatantly give you. There was even one native Spanish-speaking student who was learning English AND French on his applications. Because of his experience, he was able to provide great insight. Our top 3 suggestions are:
- Named the best app to learn Spanish by HSA, Duolingo is an interactive way to learn Spanish. Yes, there are tests and quizzes, but there are fun listening, speaking, and visual activities for every learner.
- This is a great application. Not only is it an instant phrasebook full of useful and instantly translated phrases for the country where you are going, but it is also a reliable electronic translator for those SAVE ME IN THE JUNGLE moments.
- Top 4 free Spanish apps of 2019
- Check out our own list of application suggestions! “Maybe you’re looking to start from scratch, or perhaps you are already in Spanish and just need extra support. Well, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled a list of the best Spanish apps of 2019 to learn Spanish for free! Check out which one will work best for you.”
As we talked with our ‘sample group’ of very enthusiastic English students, the final advice that they wanted to give everyone learning Travel Spanish was to keep studying even when you get to your destination. Don’t let all of the awe and wonder of your travels sidetrack you! Also, if you have a question, just ask your teacher. There are so many Spanish academies for travelers all around Latin America. Take Maximo Nivel, for example. You can take classes, have your native teacher show you the culture, and even stay at a local’s home so you can get a true Spanish immersion. How do babies learn a language? By participating to the fullest and eating as many black beans as possible! Why don’t you try it their way?
Alright, travelers! It’s time to get going!
Summer is just around the corner and these next 5 months should give you plenty of time to learn Travel Spanish! As your faithful ‘tips and trip’ advisers in the world of Spanish learning, we are always here to support you. So much so that we are even offering a free trial class with us! We want to help evaluate what your travel Spanish learning needs are and even help to give you a starting point as you work towards your 5-month travel fluency. Click here to sign up for a free class!
We talk to people every day – on the street, in the store, at home – and rarely think about how amazing it is that we can actually communicate with them. We constantly take for granted our ability to converse with those around us.
Now, 58.9 million of our neighbors here in the States are Spanish-speakers. Imagine that for a moment. There is an impressive language barrier between us and almost 20% of the population. How can we bridge that gap and begin to communicate more fully with our neighbors? Well, we can start by perfecting our Spanish-learning process.
Why the Traditional Methods of Learning Spanish are Flawed
Let’s think about how most of us have tried to learn Spanish…
- Workbooks with reading and writing exercises
- Large classroom settings
- Non-native Spanish speaking instructors
- Software (free or paid) with audio recordings
- Classes only 1 or 2 times per week
Did one of these methods work for you? More than likely, they did not because these techniques utilize the wrong parts of the brain.
Flaws in the Traditional Methods
Remember the list we made of the different ways we normally try to learn Spanish? Those are what we are going to call ‘traditional learning methods.’ Let’s explore further to see where exactly they went wrong.
If you’re like me and went to public school, the norm was that you took about a year of foreign language in middle school before it became a requirement in high school. Since I studied in Texas, Spanish was the most logical choice of a second language. However, it wasn’t like I had much of a choice since German and French were my only other options. So, I began to study Spanish only because of its practicality. Now, on a personal level, Spanish was my least favorite class. I was a pretty good student overall, but matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do better than a B- (yes, I know – I was an overachiever).
At some point, I owned the fact that I wasn’t good at learning languages and just gave up. I stopped trying, which was quite contrary to my personality.
Looking back, I can point to several things that probably held me back.
Common Learning Errors
- Large Classes: I was in a 5A district, studying at a high school of 5000+ students. My graduating class was about 1000 students. In other words, the classrooms were consistently filled to capacity.
- Limited Attention: Due to the high student count, how much attention could one teacher realistically give to any one student? How does anyone stay focused when they’re just another face in the crowd?
- Limited Practice: Our classes, if I remember correctly, were approximately 50 minutes. They later shifted to an hour and twenty minutes in high school. Within those 80 minutes, I experienced about 10 minutes of actual application time. However, we weren’t speaking with actual native speakers. Instead, we stammered broken phrases to other non-Spanish speakers for a couple of minutes until we got distracted by a more interesting topic.
- Workbooks: Given the limited class practice time, most of the actual Spanish work was assigned as homework. This meant that we mainly learned about the reading and writing rules of the Spanish language in class, and perfected them (or at least attempted to) outside of class. I would actually argue that my reading and writing got pretty decent, but I couldn’t speak the language if my life depended on it.
In hindsight, it’s clear that my Spanish journey was flawed since day one. I was learning how to read and write in Spanish, but I barely flexed my auditory & speaking muscles. The lessons, activities, and practice works were constantly reinforcing reading and writing in Spanish, nothing else.
Now let me be clear. I’m definitely not saying that software and textbooks that focus on those learning areas are insignificant. I truly believe they can be helpful. However, I’m simply saying that they are only one part of a much bigger picture. We need various tools to activate the key areas of the brain that will help us effectively learn Spanish fast.
Before we can begin to learn Spanish fast, we must have a better understanding of how the brain functions when learning a language.
How the Brain Works
The brain is a very complex organ in the human body. It controls everything we do. Whether that’s reading, writing, or speaking, the brain has to be trained, over time, to know how to complete those tasks.
Although the brain is much more complex than what we can delve into here today, it is clear from looking at this diagram that different language functions are primarily controlled by distinct areas of the brain.
What this shows us is that when we try to learn a language with just reading or writing exercises, it isn’t very effective because we aren’t exercising the part of the brain that controls speech. We are learning only half of what we need to become fluent in Spanish.
In other words, as a learning audience, we have been studying and learning Spanish incorrectly.
In a nutshell, our brain accomplishes any task by firing or sending electrical signals to different regions of the brain. These signals then travel through the body to the muscles that you want to use. Let’s say, for example, you want to say something. Your brain would first send out signals to different parts of the brain to recall the words and sentence structure you need. Then, it would signal your muscles to move correctly and get your vocal cords to produce the correct sound. All at the same time. Whoa! That’s a lot of tasks! No wonder it’s a hard thing to learn, huh?
Becoming More Efficient
These electrical signals we just talked about travel along something called ‘axons.’ However, the further the signals have to travel, the more energy they lose. Luckily, our axons are wrapped in a fatty substance called myelin, which helps maintain energy. You can think of axons like the coaxial cables of the brain.
When we’re younger, this myelin fatty substance is quite thin. The more we ‘practice’ specific tasks, though, the more resources your body dedicates to that axon and thickening the myelin. This, in turn, produces a very well insulated pathway for that particular electrical signal. In this TED video that explores the idea further, they refer to it as something “similar to an information superhighway.”
Logically speaking, as a signal becomes fast and more efficient, the result should appear quicker and better, right?
Targeting the Correct Objective
The answer is yes. But to make that signal faster, we need to practice the right tasks. If we want to create efficient pathways in our brain for speaking Spanish but never say a word, those pathways will never develop. We must target the correct objective when we learn Spanish.
At this point, I can probably conclude that I did not excel in high school Spanish because the curriculum and activities were creating and reinforcing axon pathways in my brain specifically for reading and writing. Had I been able to converse and develop pathways for speaking, I would have been more proficient in communicating in Spanish. There’s a common saying, “practice how you’ll execute,” and it rings true for language learning.
More Than Practice: Quality and Effectiveness
The video I previously mentioned goes on to point out that although practice is necessary to build up the myelin along your axons, it’s not the only thing needed to develop mastery over any skill, including speaking Spanish.
This explains why repeating a bunch of words randomly or without context, often does NOT lead to Spanish fluency. So, we have talked about how traditional learning methods are ineffective. What’s the correct way to learn Spanish quickly, then?
How We Do It:
At Spanish Academy, we’ve developed a unique method of teaching Spanish that centers around five key concepts represented by the acronym RAMMA. These letters stand for:
Our classes are either 1-on-1 or 2-on-1, giving you the ability to talk about things that are relevant to your life. This does a couple of things. First, it gives your brain a point of reference and allows you to contextualize and process what’s going on. It also aids in pushing the information into your long term memory.
Because the information is relevant to your experience, you’re naturally more engaged in the class. Studies show time and time again*** that when you are attentive, your brain is more likely to retain the information.
Now that your classes are relevant to your experiences, you can learn Spanish through a lens you are familiar with. This gives meaning and perspective to your Spanish learning journey. Instead of just learning a bunch of generic words and phrases that you might never use, you will actually learn useful and meaningful vocabulary, grammar, and conversation skills.
Just like being attentive allows you to store information in your long-term memory, giving meaning to the context allows you to do the same. All that context, perspective, and meaning lets you process and store this information a lot faster than if you were to just try and memorize things a list of words.
Of course, repetition plays an important part in language learning. That’s where the last letter comes in: A for accountability. To continue with something that’s difficult, you need guidance and direction – or accountability. This is one of the most important things that people forget about or don’t include in their learning regiment because they don’t think it’s important. However, it can actually shorten your learning curve by avoiding mistakes that you would otherwise make. Think of your Spanish teacher (or some accountability partner) like Google Maps. You’re still able to get to where you need to go without Google Maps, but it’s a lot faster if you have it guiding you along the way.
Learn Spanish Fast
In my travels, there’s a joke that I’ve encountered many times over – as I’m sure many of you probably have. It goes something like this…
“What do you call someone that knows three languages?”
“What do you call someone who knows two languages?”
“What do you call someone who knows one language?”
Crazy right? But, there’s some truth to the joke. In many parts of America, there are people who feel that other languages should not be spoken or used in public.
Without getting political, I think one of the reasons for this, is that people find it really hard to learn Spanish or any other language. And it is challenging, don’t get me wrong. But it can be easier than people make it out to be if they practice and learn Spanish correctly.
So, it’s time to throw out those traditional methods and start learning Spanish effectively today. Click here to learn even more about how our program can help you learn Spanish fast, or go ahead and sign up for a free class. We can’t wait to see you in class!
About the author
Ron went from zero to Spanish fluency in 3 months after he left his high-paying consultant gig to become a director of a school for impoverished kids in Guatemala in 2009 – dove into the deep end. In 2010, he saw an opportunity for a real business and began his company in his tiny apartment. As the CEO/Founder of Homeschool Spanish Academy & Spanish Academy TV, he loves making an impact in students’ lives and also really loves chocolate.
If you’d like to learn more about how the brain works, check out this TED video. Or watch this one to discover how to learn Spanish in only 6 months! These videos go more in-depth with the ideas discussed in this blog.
Image creditRead More
This one is for all of you Netflix bingers and Goosebump book series gobblers. All you night owls that suddenly become early birds because you end your day and begin that daily grind with those characters that you love and glean from so much. Any ideas of who we’re talking about? …No, we are not talking about Hannah Montana (or is it just simply Miley Cyrus nowadays?), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, OR the Motley Crue. Could they be considered Spanish grammar mistake-fighting BFFs disguised as rockstars? Well, to us they are the blockbusters of Spanish commands.
That is right, ladies and gentlemen. The Fearless Few Crew are back with more examples, tips, and tricks that will help you with Spanish commands. In today’s episode, we will dive deeper into the command structure.
The last episode of ‘Spanish Commands and the Fearless Few Crew’
Certainly, you remember how we ended our last episode. The Fearless Third became sidewalk Silly Putty because he just simply could not listen to the simple Spanish command given to him by his crew of “MIREN EL CARRO! CUIDADO!” Now we are here at the hospital listening to all of the simple Spanish commands that we learned from last time:
If you have ever been to the hospital, you know that there are many requests given to you, and sometimes even actually taken seriously by you, because, as we all know, when you are in the emergency room YOU are the star! Broken bones, pink eyes, swollen big toe… you name it. Whatever brought you to the hospital has now made YOU the king. You hold the scepter now, which means YOU give the commands to your crew, hoping to ease your pain. Congratulations!
Wow… that was a lot of talking about YOU (a handy-dandy pronoun) to whom we are pleased to welcome to the crew of Spanish commands.
First things first: Pronouns and objects with Spanish commands
As king, before WE can give orders and verdicts and demands of more slushy-type hospital ice cups in Spanish, we have to learn how to make THEM (another pronoun). The pronouns needed for Spanish commands. If you remember, there are 2 types: direct and indirect object pronouns. Let’s look at them quickly:
You can also quickly jump over to our blog specifically about Spanish Pronouns if you need a refresher or to simply flex your pronoun muscles. You will need to know them when you are making Spanish commands as the sentence structure completely changes when you throw pronouns and objects into commanding Spanish sentences. How do you ask? Well, let’s see what the Fearless Third is demanding for in his hospital Silly Putty state.
Spanish commands vs non-commanding Spanish sentences: What do they look like?
In English, our commands, demands, and rights as king come with a ‘please’ or just an exclamation point, but in Spanish the structure changes! Not only does it change, but it is more of a complex, roundabout way of structuring pronouns and objects.
Now, that looks a little complicated. Before we move on, let’s look at the formulas so we can make these on our own! To form normal sentences with direct and indirect objects, use this formula:
(Remember, you can use ‘lo’ instead of ‘perro.’ You would just put it before the verb and after the indirect object.)
Similarly, the formula for commands uses pronouns. The trick is to combine the pronouns and make sure they are in the right order! Check it out:
See the difference? Here is a great list resource that the nurse from StudySpanish.com just brought us to show more examples of Non-Commanding vs. Commanding Spanish sentences.
Spanish commands vs non-commanding Spanish sentences & ruling as king: ‘THE’ Rule
However, before we can go and start practicing with the Fearless Few as the newly crowned ruler, we also have to check out our number one rule (besides NEVER freaking out…) It’s the ‘THE’ rule or the ‘Lela’ rule.
No, we are not forgetting ‘Do, re, mi.’ When there are two object pronouns (see charts above), we have a special rule. If both pronouns begin with the letter “l,” you must change the first pronoun to “se.”
Want to practice more? Nurse! Bring me more practice!
Examples of Spanish commands vs non-commanding Spanish sentences:
Ok! So here we are, kings and queens of the infirmary. We are right alongside The Fearless Third and his silly putty self. Let’s try and see if we can identify which sentences are commanding and non-commanding Spanish sentences in the midst of his wails.
Ready bingers and allnighters? The new season is done, so it’s time to rewatch the last ones. Plus you are going to need something to do besides commanding the enfermera around during your reign.
Check out how the Fearless Third interacts with the nurse and try to identify the Spanish commands. Then, check your work using our answer key.
Fearless Third: Quiero más agua.
Enfermera (nurse): Por su puesto mi amor. Chico, ¡regálale agua!
Enfermera: ¡No te muevas! Necesito limpiar tu herida.
Fearless Third: ¡No me toques!
Enfermera: ¿Quieres comer?
Fearless 3: ¡Sí! Dame pizza!
The rest of the crew: ¡¿QUE?! ¡No hables de pizza! ¡Por eso estamos aqui!
Now, to practice this episode more, ACUÉRDENSE (REMEMBER, YOU PEOPLE!) to go to the following HSA blogs:
Above all, have fun and get well soon! ¡Qué te mejores!Read More
So, you want to learn Spanish. Maybe it’s even one of your New Year’s resolutions that you said you wanted to do but haven’t got around to yet. Nowadays, there are so many different resources we can use to learn Spanish. Applications, though, have a special draw to those of us who want to learn quickly and on the go. Maybe you’re looking to start from scratch, or perhaps you are already in Spanish and just need extra support. Well, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled a list of the best Spanish apps of 2019 to learn Spanish for free! Check out which one will work best for you.
There are four key areas of language learning: listening, speaking, writing, and reading. The most passed over and avoided area is reading, probably because it requires patience and time. However, reading can astronomically improve your language skills because you are subconsciously learning language structure and patterns while also absorbing new vocabulary through context. The only issue is…how can we make it fun and appealing? With Beelinguapp! This is by far the best app to practice your Spanish reading. With the free version, you have access to a variety of reading material. You can choose from different categories, such as travel, kids’ stories, and science. In addition, you can select your level as beginner, intermediate, or advanced. However, I will say that the beginner material is not for true beginners. You will need some basic Spanish knowledge before using this app.
How does it work?
After selecting your language, level, and category, you can choose which item you would like to read. Then, download it and begin reading either on your own or with the narrator. As the narrator speaks, the app highlights the text so that you can both hear the pronunciation and see the written word. Another cool feature of this app is that you can read the Spanish part only, or have the Spanish and English versions open at the same time to compare them. Finally, you can build your own glossary by adding new vocabulary words to your account.
This Spanish app was quite a pleasant surprise. It’s called ‘drops’ because you learn just a couple words at a time. In the free version, you can only study 5 minutes every 10 hours, which is perfect for those of you who are trying to squeeze language-learning into your busy schedules. If you’re looking for something more intensive, or already have some Spanish experience I would not recommend Drops. However, if you are just starting to learn, this is one of the best Spanish apps available.
How does it work?
Drops has great visual effects, with a drawing or animation accompanying each vocabulary word. After each word is introduced, there are exercises and games to help you truly learn the vocabulary. The app tracks your progress by how many words you have learned and then calculates your level accordingly. Additionally, the vocabulary is separated into categories, and the first level of every category is available all at once for your perusal. The categories include everything from science to business, from food to fashion.
In my opinion, Memrise came in as an extremely close second after Duolingo for the title of ‘best app to learn Spanish.’ While the other Spanish apps are limited to their own specific style of learning, Memrise combines them all into one app. Not only can you learn multiple languages at once, but you can learn from multiple platforms. For example, you can learn Spanish from the multiple Memrise Spanish courses, or from different programs that users themselves have created. Some of these other courses even include all the vocabulary from the corresponding Duolingo courses.
How does it work?
This app looks at language learning like growing a plant. When a word is first introduced, it is just a seedling. The more you practice, the more the plant grows until it flourishes into a flower. When the flower wilts, it means it’s time to practice that word. Depending on the course you choose, you can learn both phrases and vocabulary. Instead of a placement test, Memrise offers different levels of Spanish that you can choose from based on your experience. The Memrise courses themselves offer both vocabulary and phrases, while some of the other courses focus on different vocabulary, conversational skills, idioms, etc. In the learning process, you can find a variety of exercises, from watching videos of native speakers to practicing your own pronunciation. The app even includes both direct and literal translations so you can understand the structure of words and phrases.
Of course, you’ve probably heard of Duolingo. It has become so popular lately, and it continues to hold it’s title as one of the best apps to learn languages. What makes this app doubly amazing is that the founder of Duolingo is Guatemalan! Since our teachers are located in Guatemala, the country holds a special place in our hearts (learn more about Guatemala here). However, Duolingo isn’t in the number one best app spot because of any bias. To the contrary, its content speaks for itself.
How does it work?
You can either start at the very beginning or take a placement test to score out of some lessons, which makes this app perfect for all Spanish learners. As you progress through the lessons, you learn both vocabulary and phrases. Additionally, grammar is taught by showing it in sentences instead of a formal grammar lesson. If you would like more explanation, you can hover over the word or words. Like Memrise, you can reach different levels and goals, which encourages the user to keep practicing. To reinforce what you have learned, there are interactive exercises that test all areas of language-learning: pronunciation, writing, listening, and comprehension. Duolingo and Memrise are very similar in the way that they present and practice vocabulary, but Duolingo takes it a step further by giving grammatical explications, user forums, and supplemental learning features.
Get Practicing with the Spanish Apps!
Now that you have all the information, try out some of 2019’s best Spanish apps. Let us know which one you found to be your favorite!
Of course, the best way to utilize these Spanish apps would be to use them as a supplemental course to real Spanish classes. Take a Free Trial Class with us today and see how you can learn Spanish with a live instructor from the comfort of your home.
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
Raise your hand if you have ever had a crew. Come on now…you know: best friends, partners in crime, a girl gang. The ones whose surprising screams of “Watch out!” save you from becoming sidewalk Silly Putty? Or how about when you are with ‘The Fearless Few’ (the nickname you made for the crew you thought would make you fearless)? For example, when there is real danger and ‘Number One’ of the crew screams “CALL AN AMBULANCE!” because ‘Number Three’ didn’t listen to the previous command and is now actual sidewalk Silly Putty.
Look at it this way. In every dance class we take, every cake we bake, and every piece of advice that my grandmother swears is only advice, but I know she prays I heed, there are commands. We hear them every day: “Pass me that pencil,” “Tell me everything, but don’t tell my mom,” and “For goodness sake, please give me your number!” We hear them from all angles – family, teachers, official people with badges, and yes, of course, our crew.
Have we ever really mastered following commands? I guess that is more of a personal question; but for now, let’s see if we can master recognizing, making, and using common Spanish commands.
Recognizing Spanish Commands:
Before getting into what some common Spanish commands are, we need to prepare ourselves. As Number One of the Fearless Few Crew would say, “I was born ready.” Well, that is nice for them, but for the rest of us that need a little more prep time, here is a snapshot of how to make Spanish commands:
- The Basics: All Spanish verbs end in‘-ar’, ‘-er’ or ‘-ir’
- Hablar ( to talk)
- Comer (to eat)
- Escribir (to write)
- The Big Picture: Every verb gets conjugated based on the person that is using the verb. With Spanish commands, though, each verb gets conjugated differently. In other words, the endings (suffixes) of the verbs change.
- The Nitty Gritty: Of course, we need to actually use the Spanish commands in conversation. Check out our video to see how our teacher, Ruth, helps a student get around by using – yes, you guessed it – Spanish commands.
Great! You have the big idea, but what in the world are you going to do with just a bunch of suffixes? It’s like the ‘Fearless Few’ without Number Two. How are you going to survive the demands of Spanish commands? Well, the good thing is that Number Two of your ‘commanding gang’ has a utility belt full of examples that can help us practice all of these suffixes. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?
Making Spanish Commands:
According to Number One, you used the tips from our previous blog post on Mission Trip Spanish You Need to Know to Survive. He says one of the first Spanish commands that you encountered was about doing chores in your host family’s house, which you were happy to do…RIGHT?.
“Practice makes perfect,” as your wildly optimistic Number Two crew member would say. So let’s practice using the suffixes that we just learned and apply them to your eventful mission trip. Don’t worry, we won’t talk about how Dave wet the bed or how Jack got VERY lost in the woods. To be fair, they both should have followed these tips on Spanish commands…
Since we left Number Two in charge of our perfect practice, we should probably get started. Here’s a great resource taken from a “Survival Spanish” online library that is full of PDFs for quick-fire language memorization. But, for now, we will use the ‘Cleaning Requests’ one to keep our practice spotless. (Note that this document uses the formal ‘usted’ form, but for our purposes, we’ll be using mostly the ‘tú’ form. If you want more information on those pronouns, click here.)
Practice #1: For you crew members who are learning the basics
- Verb in Spanish Command form (Ex: for ‘tú’ – Limpia)
- Object (Ex: La cara)
- Result: Limpia la cara (Clean your face.)
- Take turns with a crew member and practice making Spanish commands with the ‘Cleaning Requests’ PDF
- You can also take this quiz that our amigos at 123TeachMe offer for crew members like yourselves:
Practice #2: For crew members wanting to ‘level up’
- Start with ‘No’
- Conjugate the Spanish command verb according to the suffix (Ex: for ‘tú’ – Limpies)
- Follow with the object (Ex: la cara)
- Result- A ‘Negative Spanish Command’ (No limpies la cara. – Don’t clean your face.)
- Take turns with your first second and third crew members and practice with this online quiz ironically from 123TeachMe.com
- Since you are going to need to collectively practice our final point to mastering Spanish commands, find your crew and practice together. That’s an order!
Using Spanish commands:
Now comes the fun part! You would think that Number One of the crew would be using Spanish commands more often, but you have to have the brains. Who do you think found Jack when he got lost on the mission trip? Number 3 of the Fearless Few graces us with their mastery. Therefore, as any and every good master does, they use Cliffsnotes Spanish to assist their ‘Yoda’ style teachings of the so we want to offer them here! Not only that, but the irregulars are better shown than explained. Can you highlight all of Spanish Command verbs in the following conversation among the Fearless Few? YES, yes, yes, we KNOW there are irregulars, but they are part of the initial steps to becoming part of the Fearless Few Crew, and we’ll talk about them in the next initiation blog. For now, let’s keep it simple.
Observe as the Fearless Few tackles, deflects, and welcomes commands:
And that is how The Fearless Third became actual pavement silly putty. Also…did you see the irregular verbs? Stay tuned to see if The Fearless Few can conquer pavement putty AND irregular verbs. For now, check our answer key to see if you could identify all the Spanish commands.
If you are wanting to review, or go into more depth for question’s sake, here is a great resource from “Super Site Structure,’ or you can get some extra ayuda from SpanishDict. Otherwise, have fun recognizing, making, and using common Spanish commands, and please, ask your crew to help you!
Don’t forget to watch our video, which teaches you how to use directions and commands in Spanish!Read More
What’s the difference between “martes” and “miércoles” in Spanish? If you still struggle with this answer, then you are in the right place! In this post, you will learn the seven most common words in Spanish: the days of the week. Additionally, we will cover how to pronounce them and use them in sentences. What’s more, if you need a boost in memory power, I’ll share below a proven technique for you to remember new vocabulary. ¡Vamos!
Días de la Semana
Firstly, there are a few differences you must know about los días de la semana in Spanish. For example, they are always lower case, unlike the days in English. In contrast to the English calendar that starts with Sunday, the week begins on Monday in Latin countries. Additionally, each day uses the masculine definite article in singular (el lunes) and plural (los lunes).
The Definite Articles: “El” and “Los”
When using the definite article “el” while we talk about the days of the week, it means “on”. Try out these phrases to practice the new vocabulary:
¿Vas a venir a mi casa el domingo?
Are you going to come to my house on Sunday?
Yo tengo que trabajar el lunes.
I have to work on Monday.
Él quiere ir al dentista el jueves.
He wants to go to the dentist on Thursday.
Furthermore, we can change the definite article to “los” and add an -s to the day when we mean to say that something happens habitually. Keep in mind, if the day already ends in -s then we don’t need to add another -s.
Yo hago compras con mi abuela los sábados.
I shop with my grandma on Saturdays.
Ella juega a las cartas los martes.
She plays cards on Tuesdays.
Los miércoles, yo trabajo como tutor de inglés.
On Wednesdays, I work as an English tutor.
How to Memorize
In order to remember the days of the week as quickly as possible, you can follow a tried-and-true memory technique. This requires a bit of creativity, but it’s well worth it! For each day, try to link the sound of the word with a crazy mental image. Surprisingly, this technique is consistent and effective. Let’s try it together…
El lunes – When you read the word, it sounds very similar to the English word “loony.” Think of a funny image of a loony-looking guy standing in front of a sign that reads “Lunes”. He is the first in a line of six other characters, which will be the other days of the week. You can even repeat in your head “Loony lunes” to reinforce both the pronunciation and the image.
Now you try!
Write your list of the next six days and write out a description of a super crazy, funny picture. Similarly, you could just draw it. Remember, the trick is in the image: the crazier it is, the easier it will be to remember. In no time, you will memorize all of the Spanish days of the week!
The Origin of the Spanish Days of the Week
The Spanish days of the week have a significant history and origin to their names. Read on to learn more:
Lunes comes from the Latin Dies lunae, meaning día de la luna. In English, this means, “Day of the Moon”.
Martes comes from the Latin Dies marte, meaning día de marte. In English, this means “Day of Mars”.
Miércoles comes from the Latin Mercurii dies, meaning día de Mercurio. In English, this means “Day of Mercury.”
Jueves comes from the Latin Jovis dies, meaning día de Júpiter. In English, this means “Day of Jupiter.”
Viernes comes from the Latin Veneris dies, meaning día de Venus. In English, it stands for “Day of Venus.”
Sábado comes from the Hebrew word Sabbat, the day of rest.
Domingo comes from the Latin Dies Dominicus, día del Señor or “Day of the Lord” in English. It is related to both the sun and the Christian reverence for the son of God, Jesus.
The Days of Our Lives
All in all, learning the days of the week in Spanish is important for conversations and meetings with friends. You will also be able to understand when they are trying to set a date with you. Moreover, you’ll be able to talk about some of your habits and routines when you are getting to know someone. Ultimately, every beginner Spanish learner should make sure they know the days of the week and how to use them in a sentence.Read More
Yes, it is true! Valentine’s Day and Día del Cariño are the SAME thing, and it’s even on the SAME day in both the English and Spanish-speaking countries. There are lots of similarities: flowers, scary first dates, the card box at school that you pray gets filled to the brim by all of your classmates that you do not even know. Sometimes grandma even gives us that crisp $5 bill in a pity card just in case none of the above happens.he list goes on and on. Traditions and sentiments stay the same; however, the obvious thing that changes is…YUP! You guessed it: the way we say that we care about different people in our lives.
WARNING: this is not just a ‘Twilight Saga Bella and Edward’ turbulent romance post. Cariño and love are for everyone! Yes, the media has it saturated, but it is for our friends, family, crushes, and MAYBE the significant other who may or may not be able to read our minds when it comes to what kind of card we want. No worries, mis amores – our 4 Tips for Día del Cariño have got you covered.
Tip 1: Día del Cariño- Phrases for Friendly Cards
OK! So here we are. Let’s set the scene: classrooms with carpeted floors and boxes with your name on it. Or even more possible, cards may be waiting for you on the kitchen table next to your heart-shaped pancakes. Some examples could be:
Ok, ok, ok. Very punny, but let’s check out some Spanish and ‘Spanishpired’ ones:
So besides the ‘Taco of Love,’ both of our sweet Día del Cariño punny Valentines are focused on the ‘Te’ perspective. Now, in Spanish, we could do ‘Usted’, but we are talking about feelings, the warm fuzzies, and the “I’m so glad you are alive!” sentiments, which are not normally for the ‘Usted’ form. ‘Tú’ is for friends, family, and all your crew members. If you’d like more information about ‘tú,’ ‘usted,’ and other Spanish pronouns, check out our blog!
Simple phrases: So if you have your pen and hand-made card ready, thanks to our friends, here are some great Día del Cariño phrases you could scribble down over all the glitter glue for your amigos y familia:
Great! Now you can copy paste, but if you are wanting to practice, notice the words that are most used:
- Amistad – Friendship
- Alegrias / Gozo – Joy and Happiness
- Regalos – Gifts
- Dulce – Sweet
- Loquita (Loca/Loco) – Crazy
Now, try and take these words and make your own short Día de Cariño phrases for your amigos. You just have to add the verbs! Notice that all of the verbs are in the ‘tú’ conjugation.
- Tú — AR verbs = +aste
- Abrazar- Abrazaste (to hug)
- Tú –ER and -IR verbs = +iste
- Compartir = Compartiste (to share)
- Querer = Quisiste (To Care about and LOTS of other things we will talk about in our next tips)
Tip 2: Día del Cariño- Activities and Vocabulary in the Media
Ok, stage change! Carpet floors in classrooms are swapped for welcome mats and oak front doors with daunting doorbells. Even the kitchen table is swapped for fish and balsamic-something salad that is at least three steps above heart-shaped pancakes. Regardless of who exactly you are with for Día del Cariño, you have to be prepared. Where are you going to go? What are you going to do? What gift are you going to give? Well, if you do what any sensible, stressed person would do, you would google specials events, ideas, and excuses; check these out:
Notice all of the fun things that are in this first advertisement for a community run. Cheers to all of you athletes!
- Amor -Love
- La Amistad – Friendship
- Premios al mejor disfraz – Prizes for the best costume
- Sorpresas y mucho mas – Surprizes and much more
- Entrada gratis – Free entrance
Now, if the first advertisement made you feel more judged and pudgy than loved, this second one if for you! Who doesn’t like going to las peliculas? This movie ad translates to: Valentine’s Day is coming soon and so are the gifts, flowers, and…..Romance Movies! Share your favorite romance scene from a movie and win FREE candies!
What a convenient and lovely time! Let’s See what vocabulary we can pull from this movie add so you can invite that special Spanish-speaking person to the movies (maybe AFTER the community run with your friends).
- Regalos – presents
- Flores – flowers
- Películas de amor – Romance movies
- Compartir – share
Ok, So we have the activities down (High Five!), but now we have to figure out exactly WHO we are taking to these Día del Cariño activities … maybe this final advertisement can help us see who we should or should NOT want to invite or possibly ditch at the last second.
#KeyTip (outside of the 1,000 tips that we share as the crew): In Spanish, because of the masculine and feminine categorizing structure, sometimes when people want to talk about both distinctions, they combine the O and the A with the power of technology and use the @ symbol!
So, who are you with today? This final advertisement will help us see the types of people you could possibly invite to our flawless suggestions.
This advertisement translates to: What is your sentimental situation?
- Solter@ – Single
- De novi@ – With a girlfriend or boyfriend
- Casad@ – Married
- Divorcicad@ – Divorced
- Complicad@ – Complicated
- Con Hambre – Hungry
We hope that this list simplifies your Facebook status and that it is not as complicado as before!
You now have cards, events, and people down for your Día del Cariño plans (double high five!).
But wait! There are just two more tips that IF you accidentally mess up, could possibly alter all of these flawless plans we just made.
Tip 3: Día del Cariño- Te Quiero or Te QUIERO?
So this is the sweetest, most romantic, confusing, and general phrase that we could think of for Día del Cariño: Te Quiero
So… Both digital cards are cute and give you the warm fuzzies, but one is only for friends and family and the other you could possibly say (while blushing like a crazy person) to your next-level crush.
- “Something from your FRIEND who cares about you.”
- “Every day I almost love you more.”
Woah! The confusion and craziness! How to choose what word for when??
Now, which one would we say to our sweet mother making pancakes, and which would we send to Justin Bieber? To each his own cariños!
Final Tip 4: Día de Cariño: Me gusta or me gustas?
So if you think that ‘Te quiero’ is confusing, well good news, Día del Cariño, amiguitos: Our final tip is about: Me Gusta – I like
1 Me gustan esos zapatos. – I like those shoes
2. Me gusta esa persona. – I like that person OR I have a crush on that person OR I almost love that person.
This card translates to: I LIKED you, I LIKE you, and I will keep LIKING you. Have a great day, my love!
Pregunta? What kind of LIKE do you think is going on here? The shoe liking one or that person you have a crush on and kinda love? If you guessed the first, we congratulate you on your shoe collection, but to answer the Spanish language question; the second would be correct!
Our rule of thumb is that when you gustar a tangible object, you are, in the literal translation, saying something is cool. But if you say that you gustar a person…you are going into romance territory, which is GREAT if you are on Día del Cariño, but on the daily you could get yourself into trouble considering that you would be saying that you LIKE someone..like your
Our final tip for ‘Me Gusta’ is to stick to phrases like :
- “Esa persona me cae bien”- There actually is no literal translation in English, but it could mean “I like this person.”
- “Que buena onda esa persona.” – “That person has good vibes.”
- “Esa persona es tan amable.” – “That person is so nice”
- “Que chilero esa persona!” – “That person is so cool!”
Ok, amigos, cariños, and lovers. Take our tips and run with them.
Bonus question: Can you change the above positive commanding sentence into a Spanish command? If not, check out THE FEARLESS FEW. Goodness knows they need these 3 tips too.
Feliz Día del Cariño!Read More
When studying any new language, it’s important to understand the parts of grammar that we will be using. For example, let’s talk about pronouns! Do you remember those from your school days? Try to identify the pronouns in the following sentences:
- He went to the store to get her some medicine.
- I need to do it by myself.
- What do you need? I need something for my classes, but I can’t remember what she told me it was called.
- Give that to me, please.
Could you find the pronouns? There are actually 16! Let’s explore:
What are Pronouns
Pronouns are short and useful words that replace a noun. Thanks to pronouns, we don’t have to continue repeating whichever noun we’re saying. To clarify, consider the following examples:
- John is our boss. John is great to work with.
Now with a pronoun:
- John is our boss. He is great to work with.
As you can see, the sentences read smoother, and we don’t have to repeat ourselves. Spanish pronouns are equally as important. The most frequently used types of Spanish pronouns come in 3 categories. They will help you to better express yourself when speaking or writing.
3 Most Frequent Spanish Pronouns
1. Subject Pronouns
These pronouns replace the subject or the “naming part” of a sentence. They come in four categories: person, number, gender, and formality. Person refers to the identity of who is doing the action: first (I and we), second (you and you all), or third person (he, she, it, they). Likewise, numbered pronouns refer to singular (he) or plural (they) pronouns. Gender is specific for Spanish since every noun is either feminine or masculine. It must be remembered that masculine pronouns replace masculine subject nouns (‘el sol’ becomes él) and feminine pronouns replace feminine subject nouns (‘la casa’ becomes ella). Also, for groups of both men and women, we use the masculine plural form (a group of male and female students: ellos). Lastly, formality refers to the formal (usted) or informal (tú) pronouns used to address a person. This chart will help you understand and organize the subject pronouns in Spanish:
Usage of Vosotros versus Ustedes
Both vosotros and ustedes mean “you” in the plural form. They are used when talking to more than one person. Vosotros is used in Spain, while ustedes is always used in Latin America. Vosotros has two forms; the first is for a group of men or mixed group, and the other, vosotras, is for addressing a group of females.
The Omission of Subject Pronouns
It’s important to understand that subject pronouns are not always used in Spanish. At first, it can feel very strange to remove the pronoun from your speech or writing, but it’s perfectly natural for Spanish speakers. For example, the English sentence “She is a lawyer” can be stated in Spanish as “Ella es abogada” or “Es abogada.” Each sentence is perfectly understood, due to the feminine ending -a in abogada.
2. Direct Object Pronouns
The direct object is a noun that directly receives the action of a verb. It answers the question “What?” or “Who?” A direct object pronoun takes the place of the noun. Let’s look at some examples:
- He brought it. – He brought what? It is the direct object
- I know you! – I know who? You is the direct object
The following is a chart of direct object pronouns in Spanish:
Now, if you look at the previous English examples, you’ll see that the direct object comes after the verb. In Spanish, however, the direct object pronouns come before the verb!
- Tú me debes dinero. – You owe me money.
- ¡Te dije! – I told you!
- Lo conozco. – I know him/you/it.
While using direct object pronouns lo, la, los, and las, the direct object can be clarified by adding a usted, a él, a ella, a ellos, or a ellas.
- Lo conozco a él. – I know him.
- La espero a usted. – I (will) wait for you.
Let’s look at an example. Can you find the direct object pronoun?
3. Indirect Object Pronouns
Similarly, the indirect object always answers the question “to whom?” or “for whom?” It is generally telling you where the direct object is headed. Let’s see some examples:
- I toss the ball to Jack. – The direct object is the ball, but to whom is the ball being tossed? Jack is our indirect object.
Now, without using Jack’s name, we would say:
- I toss the ball to him. or I toss him the ball. – I toss the ball to whom? Him is our indirect object pronoun.
Just like with the direct objects, the indirect object pronouns in Spanish come before the verb, unlike inEnglish where they come after.
- ¿Me hablas? – Are you talking to me?
- Él nos enseña español. – He teaches us Spanish.
- Le doy mi llave. – I give you my key. / I give him my key.
To clarify or to add emphasis to the indirect object, an additional phrase can be added:
- ¿Me hablas a mí? – Are you talking to me?
- Él nos enseña español a nosotros. – He teaches us Spanish.
- Le doy mi llave a usted. – I give you my key.
- Le doy mi llave a él. – I give him my key.
Can you find the indirect object pronouns in this conversation? Hint: There’s three!
For You Pronoun Pros
If all of this has been a review for you, let’s look at something a bit more difficult. You will find there to be times when you need to use both direct and indirect object pronouns. Luckily, this is not particularly difficult; however, it is important to remember some essential rules. In English, this looks like the following examples:
- She gives it to me.
- I tell it to you.
- Send me that.
If you remember, the direct and indirect pronouns both go before the verb in Spanish. Therefore, when both pronouns are being used, the indirect object pronoun goes before the direct object pronoun, as seen here:
- Ella me lo da. (She gives it to me.)
- Te lo digo. (I tell it to you.)
- Me lo mandas. (You send me that.)
Can you find examples of both direct and indirect object pronouns here?
But, what if we want to say “I give it to her?”
Le lo doy – Try saying this out loud. Does it sound a bit funny?
In Spanish, when certain pronouns are used together, the indirect pronoun changes to “se” to avoid silly sounds like ‘lelo.’ Let’s call this the ‘Lelo Rule.’ Check out this chart to help you:
In order to clarify the indirect object, you can add a personal pronoun at the end using “a + personal pronoun.” This shows without a doubt who the indirect object refers to:
- Se lo digo a usted. (I tell it to you.)
- Se las doy a ellos. (I give them to them.)
The Importance of Pronouns
As you may have noticed, many of the pronouns are similar or exactly the same. This requires a great deal of concentration when learning, studying, and using new pronouns. The good news is, the more you study and practice, the faster you will be able to understand the different pronouns when native Spanish speakers use them. After enough practice, the pronouns will become second nature. Above all else, you will be able to automatically choose the right pronoun for every grammatical occasion.
When you find yourself in a Spanish-speaking country, you will certainly feel inspired to connect with the people who live there. Evidently, the best way to do this is to keep a good collection of ways to say “Hello” and “How are you?” in Spanish. A good conversation between two acquaintances can lead to making new friends, improving your Spanish skills, and going to local travel destinations that foreigners may not know about. Additionally, make sure to understand the difference between formal and informal Spanish greetings: who you can use them with and how to correctly use them. By understanding the grammatical reasoning behind some of the phrases, you will be able to change them to suit every situation. Overall, the best way to make the most of your experience is by starting out with that first greeting!
The most common phrase used in Spanish greetings is, of course, “¿Cómo estás?” which means “How are you?” This is an informal way to ask a friend, acquaintance, or new person who would be referred to as “tú”. It’s important to remember that the pronouns (tú, usted) are not fundamental to the question because the verb shows who is being referenced. In order to change it to a more formal question, it becomes “¿Cómo está?” or “¿Cómo está usted?”
Remember the Basic Rules
Spanish can be easy to use once you understand the basic rules. Here are a few related to Spanish greetings:
- Pay attention to your audience. Is the person a friend or, rather, your friend’s grandmother? While talking to friends, classmates, and other acquaintances, especially of the same peer group, it is acceptable to use informal language. In other words, you can refer to them as “tú” or practice some words or phrases in slang, such as “¿Qué onda?” used in parts of Latin America. In contrast, you must use formal language if you speak to someone who is older than you, a work colleague or superior, or a person you do not know very well. In this case, using “usted” and avoiding slang is a must. For more information on pronouns, check back soon for our Spanish Pronouns blog!
- Make sure the pronoun and the verb are in agreement; in other words, they must go together (like I and am). The most common verb for greetings is “estar,” which means “to be” and refers to the temporary state you’re asking about (“How are you right now?” / “How have you been lately?”). Particularly for greetings, you want to make note of the difference between the two singular second-person pronouns, tú (informal) and usted (formal). Be sure to note the changes of verb in the two scenarios below.
- Finally, ask yourself how many people you are greeting. Did you run into a group of friends? Do you see two of your Spanish teachers having coffee at a café? When talking to more than one person, you will use the plural form of the second person pronoun, ustedes.
Let’s look at some examples:
Hola, Juan. ¿Cómo has estado? / Hey, Juan! How have you been?
¡Hola! ¿Cómo está usted? / Hello! How are you?
¡Hola, amigos! ¿Cómo han estado? / Hey, guys! How have you all been?
¡Hola, mi amor! ¿Cómo estás? / Hi, love. How are you?
Would you like to hear a native Spanish speaker say these? Check out our video lesson on Spanish Greetings!
Now that we have some of the ground rules laid out, you can change any of the following examples to fit your conversation. Although there are many ways to greet another person, I’ve compiled a list of the most popular Spanish greetings:
Some greetings are unique to certain countries. Check out some of these examples:
Whenever you are in a formal setting, like a job interview or professional setting, be sure to use the following:
Some greetings can be used both in a formal and informal setting. Keep these in mind if you are not sure how professional the situation is:
Greeting Rituals in Latin America
Whenever you decide to use your super stockpile of conversation starters, you will want to know how to execute it well. That is to say, you’ll want to know what to do with your body while you talk. In the majority of Latin cultures, the greeting rituals are likely very different from what you’re used to. Markedly, kissing, hugging, and physical closeness are quite common. You will want to know how to act in each circumstance, depending on with whom you are interacting.
With Friends and Relatives
A popular way to greet friends is by hugging. It is used between people who know each other well or on special occasions. Additionally, hugging is acceptable when you have been away for a long time without seeing one another, to congratulate someone, or to express condolences. Another popular way to greet family, friends, casual acquaintances, and new people is with a kiss. Frequently, the kiss does not result in physical contact of the lips to cheek, but instead it is more of a touching of cheek against cheek.
The most common way to say hello in the professional world is with a handshake. While doing so, you must always look the other person in the eye. Failure to do so can be interpreted as a lack of self-confidence or even malicious intent. Moreover, the handshake should be fast and firm, but delicate. A quick handshake may show a lack of interest and motivation, while too long a handshake may be misinterpreted.
That’s a lot to learn in one lesson! In order to help yourself absorb the material you’re learning about Spanish greetings, try out this little test. What is each phrase saying? Is the greeting formal or informal?
- Buenos días profesor, ¿qué tal? ____________
- ¿Cómo has estado, hermana? ____________
- Hola amigos, ¿qué hay de nuevo? ____________
- ¿Qué tal se encuentra usted? ____________
- ¿Cómo te ha ido?____________
Look for the answers below!
The Importance of Greetings
As shown above, there are many ways to greet new friends or acquaintances in Spanish. By practicing them as often as possible, you will start to feel more comfortable using them. Additionally, you will find that you have better conversations and learn more about others. Give it a try and see for yourself!
- Good morning teacher, how’s it going? (formal)
- How have you been, sister? (informal)
- Hi friends, what’s new? (informal)
- How are you? (formal)
- How’s it been going? (informal)
For a more personal lesson, check out our Spanish Greetings video. For the full lesson, click below:Read More