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8 Spanish Phrases Everyone Should Know How to Use

Visiting a Spanish-speaking country anytime soon? Or just want to bone up on your Español? These are the everyday terms to master.

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Why we need Spanish phrasesPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

Why we need pequeña cantidad (a little bit) of Spanish

We all need to know a little Spanish to get by, whether we are heading to Barcelona, Mexico or another Spanish-speaking country. Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, ahead of the United States, according to the Spain-based nonprofit Instituto Cervantes. If you took Spanish in college, you can likely conjure up such arcane phrases as Juan y Maria van a la playa (Translation: Juan and Maria are going to the beach), but how often do these phrases really come up in casual conversation? Knowing these eight basic phrases and expressions will help you navigate the real world.

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"Where is the bathroom?" in SpanishPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

Where is the bathroom?

Pronounced: DOHN-deh ehs-TA el BAH-neeo

This question is bound to come up, so it’s a good one to keep in your hip pocket–especially if you are travelling with young children.

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"Call 911" in SpanishPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

Call 911

Pronounced: Ya-Me Al New-A-Vay Uno Uno

This is a phrase that we hope never to utter, but it’s good to know just in case.

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"How much does this cost?" in SpanishPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

How much does this cost?

Pronounced: KWAN-Toe KWES-tuh

Shopping makes the world go around, and whether you are visiting a foreign land purchasing souvenirs or somewhere closer to home, asking how much an item costs will certainly come in handy. Other phrases including Necesito cambio, por favor (I need change, please) or ¿Tiene cambio? (Do you have change?) can also help with transactions.

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"See you later" in SpanishPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

See you later!

Pronounced: AHS-ta looEH-go

“Hasta mañana” is another way of seeing see you later (or tomorrow), both which are customary and polite ways of saying goodbye in Spanish. Getting ready to pack your suitcase?

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"Good morning" in SpanishPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

Good morning

Pronounced: booEHN-os DEE-as

This is the best way to greet a Spanish speaking person in the AM. Buenas tardes (pronounced booEHN-as TAR-dehs) means “good afternoon,” and buenas noches (booEHN-as NO-chehs) is “good evening.”

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"Excuse me" in SpanishPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

Excuse me

Pronounced: Kohn pehr-MEE-soh

Interrupting is rude in any language or country. If you have a pressing question or concern, be as polite as possible by using these phrases.

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"I am allergic to" in SpanishPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

I am allergic to…

Pronounced: Soy Allergic-O

As many as 15 million Americans have food allergies including in every 13 children in the U.S., according to Food Allergy Research & Education, Inc. It’s important to be prepared when travelling or eating at a new restaurant. Fill in the blank with the allergen, whether peanuts, eggs, or dairy. (Peanut is cacahuete pronounced Ca-Ca-Wet-Tay. Maní—pronounced Man-ee—can also be used for ‘peanut.’)

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"I do not understand" in SpanishPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

I do not understand

Pronounced: yoh no kom-PREN-doh

When in doubt, this is always a good phrase to know.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest