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Travel Phrasebook: Five Essential Phrases in Spanish

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Spanish is spoken from Argentina to Venezuela, either as a mother tongue or a significant second language. Get what you need, find your way around and keep the locals happy with our must-use essential phrases. Whether you’re booking train tickets or finding a lost friend at a festival, we’ll keep you rocking the lingo this summer!

Perdon, un billete para Madrid, por favor

“Un billeta” is a ticket, “para” means to, or going to. When you’re booking train tickets between Spanish cities, or between destinations in any Spanish speaking part of the world, you’ll need this one. Just take out “Madrid” and stick in the name of the place you’re going to. You’ll find “perdon” (excuse me) and “por favour” (please) useful in most situations, too. There’s nothing like smiling and being polite to get you the information you need, no matter how bad the rest of your Spanish is!


Tiene una habitacion, por favor…?

“Tiene” means have you got, or is there. “Una habitacion” is a room. You can use the same phrase for any hotel, hostel or bed and breakfast style accommodation.

It’s also useful to understand what the hotelier is saying to you – for example, “para cuantos dias?” is asking you how many days you would like the room for. In budget accommodation with shared washing facilities, ask for “el bano” when you want the bathroom.


Una tortilla Espanola de primero por favor…

The important bit here is “de primero”, which means as a first course or starter. You can say “de segundo” for second or main course. You’ll also need to know Spanish words for menu, the bill, and key waiter questions (for example, “Que va a tomar?”, which means what would you like?). The menu is “el menu”; the bill is “la cuenta” (remember it by its sound: “la cuenta” sounds like “the count” or the total); and a glass is “un vaso”.


Donde se pueda hacer surf?

Let’s face it, you didn’t book flights all the way to Spain – or pretty much any Spanish speaking country – without wanting to go to the beach. “Donde se pueda hacer” means where can I… – a key phrase for beach activities, as you’ll find different sections of the sand and water are allocated to different things. If you want to go diving, for example, you would ask “donde se pueda hacer bucear?”. Other useful words and phrases include “pueden nadar los ninos? “ (is it safe for children?); “tiene” (do you have, as in do you have sunshades or suncream); and “hielo” (ice, for your drink). Ask “Tiene sombrillas?” if you want a sunshade, and “Tiene una mesa en la terraza?” if you want to sit outside.


Te quiero

If holiday romance is going to blossom, “te quiero” is where it’s at. That’s “I love you”, and if you want to go the whole hog you can call up and say “te echo de menos”, which means “I miss you”. “Buenos tardes” and “buenos noches” are polite greetings for evening encounters (good afternoon/evening and good night respectively) – and if you want to be supercool, you can try “que pasa?” , which means what’s up, or what’s happening. Smooth!


If you’re travelling to one of the 20 countries that call Spanish their first language, or one of the five that list it as a significant second tongue, book your flights through to get the best deals. Que tengas un buen viaje!

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