Common Spanish Phrases and Sayings You Should Know


Updated on May 15 • 8 minute read

English proficiency in Spain is generally pretty low. So we can’t stress enough how important it is to pick up at least some basics of the Spanish language if you plan to live there.

And whether you’re moving to Spain or just visiting, you’ll probably want to explore some under-the-radar spots. What’s better than asking a local for a recommendation? To do that it's helpful to know a couple of common Spanish phrases and sayings. And maybe you’ll make some friends along the way!

In this article we’ll cover:

  • basic Spanish words
  • Spanish introduction phrases and greetings
  • polite phrases in Spanish
  • Spanish weather words
  • Spanish public transport words
  • different places in Spanish
  • cool Spanish words and some slang
  • popular Spanish sayings
  • funny Spanish phrases
  • and a few beautiful Spanish words

Basic Spanish words

Let’s start with the most basic words to get you off the ground.

ClaroOf course
A vecesSometimes
Tal vezMaybe

Spanish greetings

Wherever you go, ‘hola’ is a good starting point! But it’s helpful to learn at least one or two other common Spanish greetings and responses.

Buenos díasGood morning
Buenas tardesGood afternoon
Buenas nochesGood evening
¿Qué tal?/ ¿Cómo estás?How are you?
¿Qué pasa?What’s up?
¿Cómo te va?How’re you doing?
Muy bienVery good
Así asíSo-so
No tan bienNot so good
¿Y tú?And you?

Spanish introduction phrases

Introductions are some of the most important Spanish phrases you should learn. That’s where things get really interesting!

Me llamo…My name is…
¿Cómo te llamas?What’s your name?
Mucho gustoNice to meet you
PlacérA pleasure
Encantado/EncantadaCharmed, Likewise
¿De dónde eres?Where are you from?
¿Dónde vives?Where do you live?
Yo soy de…I am from…
¿Qué haces?What do you do?
¿Qué te gusta hacer en tu tiempo libre?What do you like to do in your free time?
Me gusta…I like …

Common Spanish phrases to learn

DiviérteteHave fun
Muy bienWell done
Me caes bienI like you
Te amo / te quieroI love you
Te extrañoI miss you
No lo séI don´t know
No tengo ideaI have no idea
¿Lo entiendes?Do you understand?
No entiendoI don’t understand
Quiero…I want…

Basic Spanish questions

¿Por qué?Why?
¿Qué hora es?What time is it?
¿Puede hablar más despacio, por favor?Can you speak slowly, please?
¿Como llego hasta ahí?How do I get there?
¿Sabes hablar inglés?Do you speak English?
Lo siento, mi español no es muy bueno. Estoy aprendiendo.Sorry, my Spanish is not very good. I’m learning

Polite phrases in Spanish

Knowing a few words in Spanish is great, but don’t forget to be polite when talking to the locals too.

Por favorPlease
Buen viajeHave a good trip
GraciasThank you
De nadaYou’re welcome
Lo sientoSorry
No hay de quéNo problem
No se preocupeDon’t worry
DisculpeExcuse me
Buena suerteGood luck
Buen provechoEnjoy your meal
SaludCheers / Bless you (when someone sneezes)

Note that if you’re from the UK, you might feel like the Spanish don’t say gracias and por favor as often as you’re used to.

Don’t take it as a lack of manners - it’s just a cultural difference. In Spain, those words are usually reserved for talking to strangers but are not necessary when ordering a coffee or chatting with friends.

Spanish public transport words

Once you’re about to hop on a train in Barcelona, you might realise that the information board is in Spanish. So, the odds are that you’ll need a few of these Spanish public transport words to get around!

El busBus
El aviónAirplane
El metroSubway
El trenTrain
El pasaje de idaOne-way ticket
El pasaje de ida y vueltaRound-trip ticket
La tarjeta de viajeTravel card
La estaciónStation
La multaFine
La salidaDeparture
La llegadaArrival

Places in Spanish

Got lost on your way to the post office? Late for an appointment at the town hall? Even with minimal knowledge of Spanish, you can just utter one of these words to ask for directions!

El correoMail / post office
El bancoBank
El ayuntamientoCity / town hall
La embajadaEmbassy
El municipioCity / town hall
La oficinaOffice
La policíaPolice force / station
El consuladoConsulate

Basic Spanish weather words

One of the most common conversation topics is of course weather. Have an awkward silence? Time for the ultimate small talk! With these basic Spanish weather words, you can start breaking the ice easily.

El tiempo / el climaWeather
La temperaturaTemperature
Hace buen tiempoThe weather is nice
La primaveraSpring
El veranoSummer
El otoñoFall
El inviernoWinter
El sol / está soleadoSun / it’s sunny
Las nubes / está nubladoClouds / it’s cloudy
La lluvia / Está lloviendoRain / it’s raining
Caliente / hace calorHot / it’s hot
Cálido / está cálidoWarm / it’s warm
Frío/ hace fríoCold / it’s cold
Viento / está ventosoWind / it’s windy

Cool Spanish words

Want to feel more like a local? Here’re a few cool Spanish words and phrases that you can use when talking to your new Spanish friends!

AntroShabby pub
AchucharHug someone until they can’t breathe
AgobioFeeling overwhelmed
BotellónDrinking with friends outdoors
GenioAwesome (literally means ‘genius’)
GuiriForeigner, tourist
Descojonarse de la risaTo laugh hysterically
DesveladoTo stay up late
FliparTo be crazy about something, have a wild time, get high
FriolentoA person who’s always cold
MolarTo be awesome
LiarBe confused, mess up
ResacónA huge hangover
SobremesaChilling and talking after a meal
TranquiloChill, quiet
TíoDude (literally means ‘uncle’)

Saying goodbye in Spanish

Don’t forget to end your conversation in style too!

Nos vemos mañanaSee you tomorrow
Hasta luegoSee you later
Hasta pronto amigoSee you soon, friend
¡Cuídate mucho!Take care!
¡Tenga un buen día!Have a nice day!
¡Hasta luego!See you soon!

Spanish sayings

What could be a better way to make a local smile than to throw a few Spanish expressions here and there? We bet these common Spanish words and sayings will find good use in your daily vocabulary!

No pasa nada

Literal translation: ‘nothing happens’

This is a common Spanish catchphrase that implies ‘no worries.’ You can use it casually like in English as in ‘Ay, hombre, no pasa nada’ which means ‘Hey man, no worries.’

Dar palo

Literal translation: ‘give stick’

Dar palo is a common Spanish slang expression that doesn’t have a proper English equivalent. You can use it in a situation when you really don’t feel like doing something. It might describe feeling lazy, annoyed or embarrassed.

For example, if someone asks you to hang out but you’re quite comfortable on your couch, you can say: ‘No, me da palo. Prefiero quedarme en casa viendo Netflix.’ That means: ‘Nah I don’t feel like it. I’d rather stay home and watch Netflix.’

Se me fue el santo al cielo

Literal translation: ‘the saint went to heaven on me’

You can say ‘Se me fue el santo al cielo’ when you lose the train of thought or when your mind goes blank.

‘Lo siento, se me fue el santo al cielo. ¿De qué estaba hablando?’ That means ‘Sorry, I lost my train of thought. What was I saying?’


Literal translation: ‘host’, as in the body of Christ

This is a Spanish slang word that can be used in different combinations to give a different meaning. Generally, you’d use it as ‘damn’ or ‘sick’ in English. So it can be positive or negative but always with a pinch of surprise.

So for example your friend’s bought a new car and you say ‘¡Hostia, tío! ¡Qué coche tan impresionante!’ which would mean ‘Damn, man! It’s an impressive car!’

You can also use ’hostia’ to say that you’re in a bad mood: ‘Estoy de muy mala hostia’


Literal translation: ‘oh’

Vaya is used to express anger or agitation, usually in response to bad news. For example, if someone tells you they lost their job, you can answer ‘Vaya, lo siento mucho’ which means ‘Oh dear, I’m really sorry.’

Another way of using it is together with tela (literally means ‘fabric’). So, when you say ‘Vaya tela!’ that means ‘What a nightmare!’

Ser mono

Literal translation: ‘monkey’

When something is mono it means that it’s cute. For example, ‘Tu gato es tan mono’ means “Your cat is so cute.”

Venga, hombre

Literal translation: ‘Come on, man’

Venga, hombre is another useful Spanish phrase that you’re likely to hear in Spain. Just like in English, you use it to tell someone to hurry up (‘come on man, let’s go’) or to dismiss what someone just said (‘come one man, you don’t mean it’)

Funny Spanish phrases

Ah, isn’t it the beauty of language to have phrases that kind of don’t make sense? They give you the taste of local culture and are useful to understand so as not to get very confused when you hear them. So, just like in any other language, there’re plenty of quirky funny Spanish phrases you should know!

Tengo mal de puerco

Literal translation: ‘I have a bad pig’

If you know a thing or two about Spain, you know they treat food as a sacred ritual. And of course, on holidays like Christmas, it’s not uncommon to eat your way into a food coma. Well, that’s when you say ‘Tengo mal de Puerco’ to acknowledge that you’re so stuffed you can’t move!

Hasta el rabo, todo es toro

Literal translation: ‘until the tail, it’s all bull’

This Spanish proverb is equivalent to the English ‘Don’t count your chickens until they’re hatched.’ That basically means that you shouldn’t assume anything before it actually happens as something can always go wrong.

Estar como una cabra

Literal translation: ‘be like a goat’

Goats are crazy, aren’t they? We all have probably seen the quirky Youtube videos. That’s where this Spanish expression comes from! It pretty much means that someone is a tad crazy or even full-on ‘nuts’.

Estar en pelotas

Literal translation: ‘to be in the balls’

This one is actually quite literal! Estar en pelotas is a pretty funny Spanish phrase that means you’re naked.

No saber ni papa de algo

Literal translation: ‘not knowing a potato about something’

As you might’ve guessed this one means to be clueless about something.

Creerse la última Coca-Cola del desierto

Literal translation: To think of oneself as the last Coca-Cola in the desert.

Just imagine vast scratches of sand, +40°C…A glass of cold Cola would surely be to die for! Well, this idiom has nothing to do with a desert but you get the point. You can say ‘Se cree la última coca cola del desierto’ when someone thinks too highly of themselves.

Meter la pata

Literal translation: ‘to put in the paw’

When you screw-up, you can say ‘¡Metí la pata!’

Eres mi media naranja

Literal translation: ‘you’re my half orange’

If you date someone in Spain, you can tell them Eres mi media naranja, meaning they’re your ‘second half’.

Beautiful Spanish words

Let’s end our class with a few beautiful Spanish words. You can throw them in your conversation to sound fancy!

PetricorThe smell of rain on a dry soil
EfímeroEphemeral, short-lived
InefableSomething that can’t be described
InmarcesibleUnfading, everlasting
InconmensurableImmeasurable, boundless

We hope these common phrases and sayings in Spain will help you navigate the new country and meet some amazing local people. And if you’re serious about learning Spanish, you should check out some language schools in Spain!

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