5 Spanish Phrases to Know Before You Head Abroad

As the second most widely spoken language in the world, Spanish can be found everywhere, whether you’re traveling in Europe, living in South America, or doing business in the USA. There is no doubt that knowing how to speak at least some Spanish can serve as a huge benefit in both your personal and professional life. But simply knowing the etymology of important Spanish words won’t get you very far, you’ll need to pick up some key phrases if you really want to go the language distance. So whether you’re learning Spanish for travel or work, these 5 crucial phrases will do wonders when it comes to trying to communicate both abroad and on the home front!

flagHeading to Spain? Learn these phrases before you go! Image via PhotoPin

1. Por favor hable más despacio. = Please speak more slowly.

Most language learners experience a similar problem when they first begin: they struggle to understand what many a fast-speaking local is saying. Remember though, there’s nothing wrong with asking someone to slow down, as long as you do it politely, which is why this phrase should be a key part of your vocab bank.

2. ¿Cómo está usted? /¿Cómo estás? = How are you?

Spanish is a language which features distinct ways of speaking depending on the person you are talking to. There is the informal ‘tu’ which is used with friends and close acquaintances, and the formal ‘usted’ reserved for colleagues, bosses, and people you wish to show respect to. When saying ‘How are you?’ be sure to apply these rules too, so you avoid making a big faux pas right at the start of the conversation!

3. Mi nombre es … / Me llamo … = My name is…

Undoubtedly there will be many an occasion where you will be forced to introduce yourself in Spanish. Try using the first phrase if you want to sound a bit more formal as it translates literally as: ‘My name is…,’ while the second phrase translates as: ‘I am called….’ You may need to work on perfecting your Spanish accent to get these just right, but once you do they will be invaluable!

4. ¡Buen provecho! & ¡Salud! = Bon apetit & Cheers

Food and drink is a major cornerstone of Hispanic culture with meals serving as social events which can last for hours. For this reason, memorizing these two phrases is extremely important if you want to assimilate into Spanish-speaking culture. Furthermore, your friends and colleagues will be truly impressed when you raise your glass to toast to a good meal and say all the right things in Spanish!

When meeting a new Spanish-speaking acquaintance, use these key phrases! Image via PhotoPin

5. ¿Habla inglés? / ¿Hablas inglés? = Do you speak English?

Even if you spend time studying up on your Spanish and learning key phrases, you may still end up in the occasional situation where it is impossible for you to understand what is going on. In these cases, knowing how to ask if someone speaks English can be a great help – especially when there is an emergency! Just remember to apply the first phrase when speaking formally and the second when informally.

Now that you know this Romance language’s key phrases, you’ll definitely want to add some extra padding so you have something more to fall back on. Test yourself with free online placement tests to see how your Spanish stands up in the real world and sign up for excellent language classes to give your skills a firm boost. With all these tools and must-know phrases, you’ll be ready to impress those around you with your Spanish know-how – whether at work in your hometown or overseas!

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