When travelling you might not notice a language barrier at first. You’ll likely start your trip at the airport where most agents speak multiple languages and either get onto public transportation, a car hire, or a taxi. Once you get dropped off, you’ll probably start to feel the effects of not speaking the local language. Learning a few words and phrases of the local language won’t only help you communicate, but it’s a polite gesture. You don’t want to be that person who only knows “un cerveza por favor” and repeats it like a parrot.
Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the world. It’s widely spoken in South and Central America, the Caribbean, and of course Spain. One thing to remember is that there are parts of these regions that don’t speak Spanish. In Brazil, they speak Portuguese and even parts of Spain itself speak different regional languages. Barcelona and the Catalonia province of Spain speak Catalan. It’s also commonly spoken in many countries that are visited by North Americans (think of the Caribbean and Mexico).
I’ve put together a few useful phrases that are important in any language, but for the purpose of this blog, I’m only providing the Spanish translation to these phrases. Remember to bring along a form of translation. My favourite is the Google translate app, you can download the dictionary before you leave and use it offline while you’re abroad. Your phone can be your best travel companion, so why not take advantage of it!?
The Spanish Basics
Hello / Goodbye – Hola / Adiós
This one needs no explanation
Please / Thank you – Por favor / Gracias
Remember to keep your manners while travelling!
I’m sorry, I don’t speak Spanish – Lo siento, no hablo español
This one is a kind gesture, and take it from me, it definitely come in handy. It shows them that while you haven’t learned the whole language, you took the time to communicate this to them.
I don’t understand – No entiendo
When using your newly learnt basic phrases, you might get a response back in Spanish, this is where this phrase comes in handy.
Excuse Me – Perdón
When visiting the busy markets you might need to get past a local doing their groceries, use this to politely squeeze past.
Help – Ayuda
Hopefully you won’t have to use this one. But it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Cheers – Aclamaciones
For when you’re having a drink with new friends.
A Wee Bit More Advanced
Where is… – Dónde está….
The restaurant, bathroom, train station, etc are useful additions to this phrase.
How much? – Cuánto cuesta
Again, using this one might get the response back in the local language. Learning the numbers from 1-10 is useful here but also when finding an address.
I would like – Me gustaría
How could I not mention this one? This is the one to use when ordering at a restaurant. You can either point at the menu or practice your pronunciation on those delicacies.