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Traveling to a new country is both exciting and new, offering fresh perspectives on culture, architecture, food, people, and language.

Language is complex yet simple, an oxymoron in every sense, and is one of those special things that brings people together. In order to alleviate any culture shock you may face when you arrive in Spain, we have compiled a list of helpful phrases and words that may come in handy in any area of Spain that you may find yourself in. While Catalan is the official language of Barcelona and the Catalunya providence, the majority speak Spanish and Catalans are normally bilingual. 

Fortunately, it is fairly easy to express yourself in Spanish — native speakers in Spain are forgiving of errors and very helpful. Most of the time, if you mispronounce something or do not say it correctly, people will smile and be amused, so don’t be nervous about getting everything right the first time. Normally a combination of exaggerated pantomiming and basic words will be sufficient when traveling in a Spanish-speaking country!

Hola written in lights by Jon Tyson from Unsplash

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Greeting People

If you only learn one Spanish word before your trip, make it be how to say “hello.” Locals will always appreciate your making the effort to speak their language, and they are always open to helping you with directions in whatever language you prefer after a quick greeting.

Common Helpful Phrases

¡Hola! – Hello

¿Qué tal?/¿Cómo estás? – How are you?

Bien, ¿y tú? – Well, and you?

¿Cómo te llamas? – What’s your name?

¿De dónde eres? – Where are you from?

¿Hablas inglés? – Do you speak English?

Perdona/Disculpa – Excuse me…

Vale – Ok

Asking for Directions

Hands holding a Map by Sylwia Bartyzel

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash

Since you are a traveler, some of the most common phrases you can expect to use will have something to do with directions. You may need to ask someone where the bathroom is, where your hotel might be, how to get to a museum, or where you can get a meal.

¿Me puedes ayudar por favor? – Can you help me please?

Estoy perdido – I’m lost

¿Dónde está…? – Where is…?

Busco la estación de tren/metro –  I’m looking for the train/metro station

Necesito un taxi – I need a taxi

Sigue todo recto – Go straight on

Derecha – Right

Izquierda – Left

When You are in a Restaurant

Men sitting at a bar

Eso es todo – That is all 

Puedo tener un __ para llevar – I would like a __ to go 

¿Cuánto cuesta un billete para ___? – How much does a ticket to ___ cost?

Un billete para ___, por favor – A ticket to ___ please. 

Una mesa para dos, por favor – A table for two please. 

Un vaso de vino (tinto/blanco/rosado) – A glass of (red/white/rosé) wine

La cuenta, por favor – The bill, please.

¿Cuánto cuesta? – How much is it?

¿Aceptan tarjeta de crédito?– Do you accept credit cards?

And, last but not least, the tried and true,

¿Hablas Ingles?

Have no fear, if you are ever in doubt, most people also have an understanding of English and are willing to help! 

While we do speak English here at Spanish Trails, our desire is to provide you with an enjoyable immersive experience. We are intentional about serving authenticity, growing your knowledge of our home, and making your visit to Spain one to remember. Our Spanish languages are facets of who we are and we are excited to share them with you!

If you are interested in learning about the city and finding places to practice your Spanish, join us for one of our Barcelona Old Quarter Walking Tours. You will be led by an experienced guide that will show you great places to visit and would b more than happy to help with your Spanish! Learn more HERE.

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