Our family members: we love them, we get annoyed by them and we have fun times with them! Most importantly: we know we can count on them whenever we need them! So many of our memories are tied to the time we’ve spent around our family. I think we all know how important they all are! So it’s good that when we speak Spanish, we know how to refer to them!
Today, let’s learn how to say write and say the family in Spanish! If you haven’t yet, watch our latest video! At the end of this blog post, you’ll also find a table with all the vocabulary words you need to describe your family in Spanish! Don’t forget to download the PDF as well to keep practicing!
Christmas Eve Dinners
I’ve lived abroad or in a different city than my familia for almost 10 years. Because of that, there’s one thing I try to do whenever possible: spend navidad (Christmas) with them. Even if it is usually only in spirit! For as long as I can remember, we’ve celebrated two Christmas Eve dinners. One is at my abuela’s (my mother’s mother), and the other one is at my abuelos’ (my father’s parents). Both dinners have always been filled with love, tons of laughter, good food, and as many family members as we can get together!
My Mom’s Family
Christmas Eve always starts at my abuela’s house. Back when I was a little girl, my bisabuela (great-grandmother) used to make tamales, pierna, ponche, and all the good Guatemalan food we eat for Christmas. When I was old enough to help, she would even let me be the sous chef! I think there was more talking than cooking from my part, though. My bisabuela meant the world to me! She would babysit me and my hermano (brother) all the time when we were kids, up until she passed away. She was like a second madre (mother) to my hermano and me. Now my mamá (mom) is in charge of most of the Christmas dinner! Her tamales are the best ever! No wonder, she uses my great-great-grandmother’s recipe (that’s a hard one in Spanish: tatarabuela!). My abuela (grandmother) also participates in the cooking, but she lets my mamá take the lead on the tamales!
The Awaited Tamal
Making tamales is a group effort and it takes a loooong time. In the late afternoon on Christmas Eve’s Day my mamá or abuela brings out the “tamal de prueba” (“trial tamal”). This is the first tamal of the whole batch and they bring it out so we can try it. They make tamales only a couple of times a year, so this is a BIG moment that my hermano, my tía (aunt), and I are always anxiously awaiting. We sit down on the big dining room table, everyone with a fork in hand, and we share the first tamal. Every time, I tear up on my first bite because it tastes just like family, like all the beautiful moments we’ve spent together. It feels like being with my bisabuela again because my mamá’s tamales taste just like hers!
My Dad’s Family
After the “tamal de prueba,” we get into the car and head to my abuelos’ house. A huge dinner of roast turkey, mashed potatoes, salad, apple sauce, and my tía’s special gravy awaits us there! If we get to gather the whole crew, it’s my abuela, my abuelo, my four tías (aunts), my prima (female cousin), my primo (male cousin) my papá, my hermano, my hermana (sister), my sobrino (nephew) and I! We normally arrive by the time dinner is ready because we were at my abuela’s giving the emotional support for the whole tamal-making process.
A Family Tree
Now, it’s time to understand a little bit more about my family tree. My hermana is really my medio hermana (half-sister). Her father is my father, and her mother is my dad’s first wife. So my mother is not my sister’s mother. My mom is her step-mother – or her madrastra! And my sister is my mother’s hijastra (step-daughter). My primos are my first cousins (primos en primer grado) because they are the children of my dad’s sister, but the children of my dad’s cousins are my second cousins (primos en segundo grado). I do get to see my primos en segundo grado around this time because my abuelo’s sister – my tía abuela – has a piano school and she hosts a Christmas recital every year! The recital is tons of fun! One of my favorite parts about going to the recital is that we get to sing German Christmas songs that my abuelo and his hermanos used to sing as children!
All The Laughter
Back to lovely Christmas Eve! During dinner, I try to cat up with everyone because it’s one of the only times of the year I get to see them all! Last year’s dinner I heard some great news: my prima is getting married this year! I’m looking forward to meeting her prometido (fiancé) and having tons of fun at her wedding! Another amazing thing is that multiple languages are spoken. We mainly speak Spanish, but there is also the occasional English and German. Sometimes my abuelo will even throw in some French into the mix! Each and every time, at some point, one of my tías will start laughing, and we’ll all follow suite and laugh until our bellies hurt! It’s very enjoyable to laugh uncontrollably, but I do not recommend trying this at home – especially after all the food of a Christmas Eve dinner!
More Tamales and More Love
After having dinner at my abuelos’, we head back to my abuela’s house where more tamales will be awaiting us! I’m telling you, I’m sure I eat more on Christmas Eve’s Day than on any other day of the year! All the food is made with so much love and I just can’t refuse it!
For the more visual and auditory learners out there and anyone else who would like to do a recap of this blogpost on a video: here you go!
Now, let’s do a recap of all the vocabulary we just learned! To hear the vocabulary spoken, don’t forget to check out the video and PDF below!
As a parent, you want the best for your child – especially where education is concerned. When it comes to foreign language, sometimes our local options fall short as we don’t always have access to native teachers. Therefore, many people turn to online alternatives for second-language courses, such as Spanish classes. However, good Spanish programs can be lengthy and difficult, especially if you choose a program that doesn’t fit your child’s needs. Is it worth it to invest in a private instructor? Do Spanish textbooks alone work? What about the multiple online software programs?
Weighing your options is always a good idea. Below, you will find 5 popular alternative Spanish classes for children and teenagers. If you are looking at courses for adults, please visit our blog here. ¡Vamos!
Although you may not consider these options to be exclusively ‘online’ programs, they are quite popular with families looking for Spanish fluency. These applications are very similar in structure (for a more detailed description, click here) and offer interactive activities to enforce learned vocabulary and grammar. Memrise has a more game-like vibe, while Duolingo is a little more focused on grammar. However, with Memrise you can choose from hundreds of Spanish courses made by users. This ensures your child learns what they need for their level or what peaks their interest. Duolingo also offers a placement test so your students start right at the level they need.
You can find both programs online or on your phone as an application. The free versions offer a variety of language learning options, such as games, vocabulary exercises, pronunciation, and writing. Although there are not live teachers helping your child along, he or she can watch short videos of natives speaking and listen to authentic pronunciations.
Rosetta Stone is a favorite among families looking for authentic Spanish classes. Developed in 1992, this program is a Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) software. In other words, the student learns with an automated program.
The platform uses images, text, sound, and repetition to help your child learn Spanish. It also analyzes aspects of your student’s progress to help them learn at their own pace and enjoy the process. For example, it tracks how many questions the student answered correctly, how accurate their pronunciation is, and how long each lesson is taking. However, like the apps, there is no live instructor to help the student along.
So, those first two options don’t offer any live teachers to guide your child through their learning journey. A private instructor is always a plus, especially if your child is quite young. Are there any affordable options available with personal instructors? Let’s look at the Kids’ Club Spanish School.
This platform is a bit newer, created in 2017. The classes allow the child to sit down with a live teacher and interactive software to learn Spanish. The backbone of the program is the
Panda Tree is another program that offers live Spanish instruction at your own convenience. This one offers classes in both Chinese and Spanish, and it has been in operation for 5 years. Just like the Kids’ Club Spanish School, the classes utilize interactive software ideal for younger children. This way, kids can sit down with their teacher as if they were in a real classroom. The learners also have access to additional songs and activities to practice with outside of class.
However, this platform doesn’t offer a free trial class to see if it is a good fit for your child. Another drawback both Panda Tree and Kids’ Club Spanish School have is that there is a maximum age limit. Many high school students need Spanish credits to graduate or to apply to college, but these programs are geared mainly towards younger students.
Spanish Academy, though, offers live classes to all ages – preschool, elementary, middle school, and high school. There is even a program for you, mom and dad! This platform combines personal classes at your convenience with a written curriculum so your child has a complete learning experience. If you have two kids that want to learn together, you can even sign them up to study at the same time. That way, they can have more fun learning Spanish together!
Best of all, the price for classes are significantly lower than both Panda Tree and Kids’ Club Spanish School, even though all three programs offer live, personalized classes online. The only drawback is that availability with Spanish Academy may be limited during the school year because of its great popularity.
Is your little learner ready to start learning Spanish? Click here to sign up for a free class today and give your child a brighter future!Read More
¡Hola, vos! Vos. Who or what is vos in Spanish? In English, we use the personal pronoun ‘you’ when referring to the second person singular (or plural – don’t worry, we’ll save that one for another time!). In Spanish, however, there are different ways to refer to the same concept! Before we start, take a moment to review the basics of Spanish Pronouns.
Now, you’ve probably heard of tú, the most standard form. There is also usted, which we use to show respect or create distance between us and the person we’re speaking with. And then there is vos! Have you heard about vos before? Why is there even a need for three words that refer to the same concept? Let’s just say, one of the beauties of language is that it doesn’t always make sense!
The following vocabulary will be useful throughout this post:
Vos in context
Vos is mostly a part of informal speech. If you imagine a horizontal line, usted is on the very left wearing formal attire, tú is right in the middle being all dressy casual, and vos is on the far right end wearing jeans and a T-shirt. In some places or circumstances, vos might even be more informal, wearing shorts and flip-flops. It all depends on the social context and region!
Interestingly enough, vos originates from an archaic form of Spanish in which vos was the way to address kings and other important people. Back then, it was the way to show respect in Spain! As the Spanish language continued evolving both in the old continent and in the Americas, the formal use of vos disappeared from common speech.
Vos in its formal form is now only used during special ceremonial events or in literary works that reflect the language of other times. A great example of a literary work that uses vos in the formal form is the oldest preserved Spanish epic poem: El Cantar de mio Cid.
The use of vos doesn’t only have an impact in the conjugation of the present tense. It also influences the conjugation of the verb when used in an imperative mood – when using commands: (vos) hacé instead of (tú) haz, (vos) tené instead of (tú) ten. If you need a refresher on basic Spanish commands, visit our Spanish commands blog.
The conjugation of verbs in the subjunctive also changes: (vos) hagás instead of (tú) hagas, (vos) tengás instead of (tú) tengas.
In the tables below you can see examples of the conjugation of regular and irregular verbs in the present tense, imperative, and subjunctive!
As you can see, the irregular verbs conjugated in vos have more of a regular verb conjugation since the stem doesn’t always change as it does with the verb conjugated in tú:
Different forms of vos
As you know, Spanish is the official language of many countries: 21 to be exact! Go have a look at some of the flags of these countries here. The Spanish language has evolved differently in various regions. Therefore, there are three forms of ‘
- vos pronoun paired with the vos conjugation
- tú pronoun paired with the vos conjugation
- vos pronoun paired with the tú conjugation
Let’s have a look at some examples:
Vos in a map
As mentioned above, how people use vos in Spanish depends on the region or country. This distinction encompasses both the combination of pronoun and conjugation and the context in which speakers use vos. Below you can find some examples from different regions:
Mexicans mainly use both the tú pronoun and conjugation. Only in southern states like Tabasco and Chiapas speakers use vos in very specific social contexts: it’s either used by the unschooled population or in the family circle of educated people.
Most Central American countries generally accept the use of vos in all social classes. Slightly more formal situations require the use of tú pronoun + tú conjugation. The use of vos has two levels in this region:
- Most common: tú pronoun + vos conjugation
- More informal: vos pronoun + vos conjugation
Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay
The region of Río de Plata accepts the use of the vos pronoun + vos conjugation without any reservations. However, using the pronoun tú + vos conjugation can be seen as more prestigious than using the vos pronoun + vos conjugation. To learn more about Spanish in this particular region, visit Spanish from Argentina, That Voseo Thing.
So, recuerda (tú) or recordá (vos) – just keep in mind – that if you ever want to use vos, you should first learn how it is used in the country or region you’re in! In some regions, you only use the vos pronoun, vos conjugation, or both together. And while in some places it’s okay to use it the first time you meet someone, in others you only use it when you’re really close to the other person.
It may seem like a lot to take into account just for one pronoun, but practice makes it a lot easier. ¡Vos podés! Are you ready to practice? We have exercises for you with a helpful answer key. Start today!Read More
Learning a new language is a long process. For example, when I was learning a second language, it took a lot of time with memorizing vocabulary and doing different practice exercises. It takes a lot of practice and studying to truly master another language. If you are new to learning Spanish or you have just been practicing it for a little bit, or even if you’re an advanced learner of Spanish! I bet you’ve had moments where someone has told you something in Spanish and you have no idea what they just said. It happens! There are some Spanish Phrases you won’t understand. It’s okay to have these blank moments.
Now, I put something together for you beginners to avoid situations like these. Here is a list of the 25 most used Spanish phrases. Practice them. Memorize them. Use them. You can check also out our previous blog Spanish for Dummies. Hopefully, with these, you will successfully avoid those awkward moments.
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 our previous blog on 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 Spanish phrases that I have listed 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 blog on how to Learn Spanish in 5 months!Read More
Body language accounts for 90% of the information exchanged between two speakers. Unfortunately, we may go to another country without learning important gestures and their meanings. However, by learning body language and practicing it before traveling, we will be better equipped to communicate. If you know where you’d like to go in order to enhance your speaking skills and comprehension, then you’ll know what types of body language and gestures to learn based on the region. Additionally, you will benefit from learning the body parts in Spanish and their idioms.
Spanish Body Parts: The Vocabulary
The Spanish-speaking world, known in linguistics as the hispanosphere, is bursting at its seam with a variety of slang. The Spanish body parts vocabulary provides a variety of slang. These can differ in each country, so we will just focus only on the general words used and understood in every hispanophone (Spanish-speaking) culture. With an excellent basic foundation in understanding, you will be able to learn the relevant slang words much quicker and improve comprehension more efficiently by asking questions. Let’s look at some Spanish body parts!
The Human Body
The Head and Face
Spanish Body Parts and Idioms: Using the Vocabulary
Learning idioms is vital when communicating with the natives of a foreign country. They are the informal, figurative language we use in daily life that expresses feelings or situations in a phrase whose meaning doesn’t immediately stand out. For example, in English, we say “Hold your horses!” when we want to express the idea that the other person needs to wait. Clearly, we are not asking them to hold back their actual horses! This is informal, figurative (non-literal) language. To truly understand the conversation and the culture of a hispanophone country, we must be aware of these figurative phrases exist. Also, don’t be afraid to ask about them when you hear a strange phrase pop up!
List of Idioms
Body Gestures: Latin America and Spain
Watch out! (¡Ojo! / ¡Cuidado!) – put your index finger to your eye and hold or tap just below
I promise you. (Te lo juro.) – make a fist, bring the thumb to the mouth, kiss it and then flick it outwards quickly with thumb up to show that you really mean it
Slow down! (¡Más lento!) – hand open with the palm facing outward, moving in a patting motion
It’s delicious. (Está delicioso.) – fingers come together at the mouth then moved forward and opened
Come here. (Ven aca.) – hand out with fingers down, palm face down, move fingers simultaneously together, making a motion from the person toward your body
Thief! (¡Ladrón!) – palm down, while each finger touches the palm one at a time. You can do this if you’re on a bus or in a smaller space, and you notice a pickpocket nearby. This would be a great way to warn other people.
Body Gestures to Avoid
In Spain, people consider yawning or stretching in public vulgar. So, no matter how tired you are, avoid making this mistake! It is also a common cultural mix-up to use the standard American gesture of “come here” with your hand out, palm up, and index finger wiggling. This actually portrays a romantic interest in Latin culture, and people only use it in very specific situations. Remember to turn your hand over and use all your fingers in a sweeping motion toward your body to signal someone to come to you. On the other hand, if you’re in Latin America, avoid gesturing with your hand turned sideways with your fingers spread. This motion is a strong insult against the other person.
Let Your Brain Learn and Your Body Talk
During your Spanish-learning journey, you can begin to expand your horizons and learn more about Hispanic culture. Idioms and body language are, of course, a big part of that experience! Every time you learn a new theme, such as food or travel, challenge yourself to look up idioms and gestures that are used to communicate relevant information. You will soon see that you’ve built an empire of knowledge. This will help you improve your speaking skills, comprehension ability, and capacity to integrate into Spanish culture.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
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
We all dream of speaking Spanish at full-speed and hope that all of the studying will result in new friends, exciting travels, and maybe even job opportunities. Many students spend the bulk of their time learning a new language just reading and writing it in hopes of fluency. Unfortunately, this is not the most effective way to learn Spanish or any language. We all have to gulp down our fears, open our mouths and speak.
Passive Versus Active Learning
Speaking Spanish fluently involves four areas of learning: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The first two, when you pay attention and respond, are the active parts of the language. The other two sections are important but fall under the passive subheading.
Passive study techniques have their place and they are absolutely necessary to master a new language. As we learn new vocabulary, the list of new words can overwhelm us. As we read, we can take our time, look up and double-check meanings, take notes, etc. It’s a comfortable, slow-paced way to absorb new vocabulary.
The same goes for writing. We can relax a little more, help ourselves out with a dictionary or a tutor if desired. This is also a good chance to practice accents, spelling and sentence structure.
What happens when we’re in conversation? First, we have to navigate around words we don’t know, which is frustrating. That ignorant feeling can raise a student’s stress level and keep him or her from speaking at all. When we do know a word, it doesn’t always make it out in time. A new Spanish speaker may experience that tip-of-my-tongue sensation. The “I know the word, but I can’t put my finger on it…” feeling.
These are all stages of language learning known as Going Public. Students fear speaking out loud because they might accidentally say the wrong word, offending someone or embarrassing themselves. However, making mistakes in Spanish is just part of the learning process and essential for mastering the language.
Say it Wrong, then Say it Right
Teachers know the best learning opportunities exist within student mistakes. A falter in a sentence, a missed part of speech or an incorrect conjugation are all good opportunities for students to reflect and learn from these mistakes.
Staring at a dictionary or writing a sentence one hundred times to memorize it can appeal to a language learner who will give anything to avoid speaking. However, working through that fear is what will seal the correct phrase in their mind. This emotional journey, while scary and intimidating, is what students need behind the language. Good teachers know pushing past a mistake and through the embarrassment means something as simple as the Spanish word for bread can internalize the lesson and make it part of a student’s permanent bank of knowledge.
What to Look for in a Class
A good Spanish class will have a balance of active and passive learning activities. The teacher needs to encourage individual students to speak to him or her and to classmates. One-on-one lessons should also be a lot of speaking and listening, but texts should be a part of the lesson.
If you feel your child is spending too much time in a textbook or watching movies in Spanish and not enough in conversation, consider looking for a program that offers a more immersive, conversational curriculum where actually speaking Spanish is at the core.
Sign up for a FREE TRIAL class today and see why HSA is the best way to learn Spanish for students of all ages. Click here.Read More