Travel Tips

Learn a lingo

Laura Pattara

Laura Pattara  |  28 September 2017

A quick course Spanish might be useful for your next trip to South America! 

Heading off on a trip to South America? Learning a few Spanish phrases could be helpful as while English is widely spoken in the main tourist hotspots there are areas where it is less spoken and if you like to get away from the tourist hangouts and have a more local experience then if you do not speak some Spanish, communicating with the locals might become a bit difficult. Having a bit of knowledge of some popular Spanish words gets you farther than you would think and your travel experience will be the better for it.

But do not get afraid if you have zero knowledge of Spanish. Just with a quick course of Spanish, you will be fine. ‘You just need to start speaking’. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain when the locals hear you making an effort.


  • Let’s start with some basic words:



Good morning

Buenos dias

Good afternoon

Buenas tarde

Good night

Buenas noches





See you later

Hasta luego


Por favor

Yes / No

Si / No  

You’re welcome

De nada

Excuse me


How are you?

¿Como estas?


  • Just a tip - never address a stranger or approach people for information without a greeting such as Hola, Buenos dias or Buenos tardes.


 shutterstock 150794741

  • Sentences when language difficulties appear:

Do you speak English?

¿Hablas ingles?

I speak a little Spanish

Hablo un poco Español

I don’t understand

 No entiendo

What does that mean?

¿Que significa ese?

Could you please repeat that?

¿Puede escribirlo, por favor?

Could you please speak more slowly?

¿Puede hablar mas despacio, por favor?


  • Phrases to start sentences which might be useful


Where’s (the bank)

Donde esta (el banco)

How much is it?

 - ¿Cuanto cuesta esto?

I’m looking for (a restaurant)

Estoy buscando un restaurant

Do you have (a map)

¿Tiene (un mapa)?

Is there (a toilet)

¿Hay (un baño)?

I’d like (a coffee)

Quiero (un café)

Can I (enter)

¿Se puede (entrar)

Can you please help me?

¿Puede ayudarme, por favor?



  • Use simple verbs


I want a ticket, a taxi

Quiero un boleto, un taxi

I need


I can


I have


Where is?

Donde esta?

Can I have

Puedo tener


 shutterstock 131281202

  • Where to go when you are a bit lost?


Where is?

Donde esta?




A la derecha


A la izquierda

Straight ahead


At the corner

En la esquina

In one, two, three, four blocks

A una cuadra, a dos, tres, cuatro cuadras


  • How to order at a restaurant


I want


A table

Una mesa

A menu

Un menu

A drink

Una bebida





Red wine, white wine

Vino tino, vino blanco


Un cafe


La cuenta, por favor


For more useful Spanish phrases buy the pocket book version ‘Fast talk Latin American Spanish’ by Lonely Planet. Take it with you on your journey and learn Spanish faster than you would ever imagined. And remember, all you have to do is try, the local people will appreciate your efforts and you will have a lot of fun!

Similar Stories