¡Hola! Welcome to Spain.
We’ve all been in the cliché, almost comical situation in a foreign country where a local greets us or asks us a question in their own language, naturally, and all we can do is pleasantly nod and smile back. If you’re reading this and thinking “well, I’ve not”, then go you, you mega polyglot. The truth is that every country has their own ways of communicating and their unique phrases that only natives use. If you're considering moving to Spain or you've just landed on Spanish soil, there are a few things you need to learn, and the most important of all is the language.
Check out 17 useful Spanish phrases that you can use when in the company of locals so you don’t feel left out. Let's start with the basics...
10 basic but useful Spanish phrases
- Hello - Hola
- Please - Por favor
- Thank you - Gracias
- Sorry - Lo siento
- Do you speak English? - ¿Hablas inglés?
- What time is it? - ¿Qué hora es?
- How much does it cost? - ¿Cuánto cuesta?
- How are you? - ¿Cómo estás?
- Where is/are…? - ¿Dónde está/n…?
- Bathroom - Aseos/Baño/Servicios
7 Spanish phrases used by locals
Now that you have the basics covered, have some fun learning 7 useful Spanish phrases that only the locals know and use:
- Estar hecho un Cristo - To look like a mess
We all know that Jesus Christ's last days on earth were far from pleasant so, Spanish people use this expression to tell someone that they look like a mess.
- Tener mucho morro - To have a real nerve.
Although "morro" means snout or nose, this has nothing to do with a physical distinction. What this means is that you really have a cheeky attitude. When they tell you "tienes mucho morro", they're letting you know that you are shameless for doing or saying something.
- Currar - To work.
A word made up by Spaniards that is now a synonym for work. It's actually more commonly used than "trabajar" and it's even registered on the official Spanish dictionary, RAE.
- Mola un huevo - It’s really cool
When something is beyond good. Cool, super or awesome in Spain can be summed up by one word: “Mola”. If it's more than amazing, you can add un huevo ["an egg"] to it to become: “Mola un huevo”. You will definitely sound like a local using this expression.
- Estar a dos velas - To be broke.
At the end of the month when you’re scared to look at your bank account, you could say “estoy a dos velas” - I’m broke/I haven’t got two pennies to rub together..
- Potar - To puke/boke/throw up.
Throwing up after a night of heavy drinking is exactly the kind of scenario when you can use"potar”. So, in Spain when they feel ill, especially after partying, they don't vomit, they “potan”.
- Es coña - Just kidding/Just messing.
No, we are not kidding, these are typical Spanish phrases that locals use and will definitely become part of your new vocabulary. Give them a go now.
If you want to learn more slang and have a giggle at the same time, check out Con Dos Huevos by David Sanchez Gonzalez. It’s full of cool illustrations and funny literal translations (and explanations) of useful Spanish phrases.