The joy of languages

18 Spanish Survival Phrases

Summer is here! At least, it’s supposed to be somewhere behind those clouds.

Every year, sensible Brits pack their bags and head south over the summer months to sunny Spain, where they’re guaranteed good weather, great food, and enviable tans.

The only problem, though, is that most of us can be a bit shy about using the local language. But fear not! Memrise is here to help you out.

Here are 18 essential phrases to help you not only survive, but thrive on your next trip to Spain. All with the help of Memrise’s exclusive “Meet The Natives” videos.

¡Vámonos! Here we go 💪

1. Gracias / Thanks

Don’t forget your Ps and Qs! Being polite in Spain is the key to getting along well with everyone.

2. Tengo hambre / I’m hungry

Spain is all about food. Paellas, tapas, bocadillos, fresh seafood. The moment you step off the plane, you’ll want to start eating. And this is the phrase you will use to tell that to those around you!

3. No soy española / I’m not Spanish

Don’t get too ahead of yourself though. Your Spanish might get so good that people start assuming you’re a local, which could cause some fairly embarrassing situations, like if you start asking why there’s no chorizo in your paella. Save yourself with this awesome phrase.

4. Una mesa para dos, por favor / Table for two, please

Everyone knows that if you walk into a restaurant and start asking for things in English, you’re asking to get ripped off. Go incognito, and get through the door with this phrase. Who knows, if you pronounce it well enough, maybe you’ll get the best seat in the house!

5. Hablas español muy bien / You speak very good Spanish

Learn these phrases, and people will be telling you this all the time! Remember how to say “thank you”? 🙌

6. Ya basta / Enough

Is the barman pouring you too much sangría? Is the waiter bringing you too many boquerones? If those things are even humanly possible, use this neat little phrase at any time to ask someone to stop what they’re doing.

7. Me trae la cuenta por favor / Can we have the bill, please

When it’s time to pay, asking this way will make you sound exactly like a pro. This is how Spanish people ask for the bill, and you will be sure to impress.

8. ¿Dónde está la estación de tren? / Where’s the train station?

Did you know that Spain has one of the most comprehensive and advanced high speed rail network of any country in the world? No visit to Spain is complete without a trip on one of the AVEs that cross the country every day in just a few hours. Master this phrase, and you’ll be well on your way to finding out just how awesome Spanish trains are!

9. Habla demasiado rápido / You speak too quickly

The Spanish are famous for not exactly speaking slowly. Was that a helicopter passing overhead, or just somebody asking for the time? Whenever you start to feel a little bit lost, and that you need. Them. To. Speak. More. SLOWLY, just tell them this.

10. ¡Llama a una ambulancia! / Call an ambulance!

Hopefully this won’t happen to you, but, well, you never know. If you find yourself in a spot of bother, use this phrase to get you to a place where you can get the medical attention that you need.

11. El médico cree que necesita medicina / The doctor thinks you need medication

The Spanish health system is excellent, and you will be examined quickly. But if the doctor tells you this, then you might need to spend the rest of your holiday taking it a bit easier.

12. Tengo que examinarle el pecho / I have to examine your chest

This one speaks for itself. Our advice: do whatever the doctor orders.

¿13. Tenéis plan para más tarde? / Do you have plans for later?

Want to hang out more with your new Spanish friends? Ask them if they’re busy later with this useful phrase!

14. No he traido mi cepillo de dientes / I’ve forgotten my toothbrush

There’s always something you forget when you go on holiday! If you unpack on your first day only to discover that you left your dental kit at home, just head down to reception and tell them this. They’ll be sure to help you out!

15. Me asusté tanto que se me cayó el helado / I was so scared I dropped my ice cream

Ice cream is great. Who doesn’t love it? But sometimes in life there are things that happen that are so shocking that your ice cream lands cone up on the floor. Your next step is to head back to the heladería (ice cream shop) and try and convince them to give you another one (for free). This phrase may be just what you’re looking for.

16. ¿Te ha comido la lengua el gato? / Cat got your tongue?

If your Spanish skills impress the locals so much that they just stare at you in awed silence, this little number will be just what you need to boost their amazement from high to stratospheric. What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?

17. Roma no se construyó en un día / Rome wasn’t built in a day

But like all good things in life, languages take time to master. If anyone tries to criticise your occasional mistakes or slip-ups, just remind them: Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.

18. No puedo agradecértelo suficiente / I can’t thank you enough

Something for the advanced, perhaps, but this one will knock whoever you’re speaking to off their feet. Instead of ‘gracias’, when someone does something nice just use this phrase to really show your gratitude.

Want to learn some Spanish before you head off on your next holiday? Check out Memrise!

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