You can’t expect to have a conversation if you don’t know how to start it, right? Even if you know hardly any Spanish, you at least probably know that “Hola” means “Hello.” However, you should reserve that for conversations with people you already know. Your greeting of a stranger will be based on the time of day. For instance, a good morning greeting would be “Buenos días”, a good afternoon greeting, “Buenos tardes”, and a good evening greeting, “Buenos noches.”
If you want to be especially polite, you can ask “how are you?” For someone you do know, ask “¿Como estás?” and for someone you don’t know, ask “¿Como está?”
Also: don’t forget the magic words: “please” and “thank you” or in this case: “Por favor” and “Gracias”.
Suppose you go to a restaurant in a Spanish-speaking country. You know what you want to get, but you aren’t sure how to order it. No problem. To be as polite as possible preface your order with “Me gustaría” (“I would like”). Looking for the restroom? “¿Dónde está el baño?” Want to know how much a dish/anything else you want to buy is? “¿Cuánto cuesta?” Want some dessert? “Un postre”. Are you ready for the check? “La cuenta.”
On any trip, one of the most common questions you’ll ask is about the location of something. this can range from a specific attraction to a train station. So the phrase “¿Dónde está?”, meaning “Where is?” is one to keep in mind. A few words that you might be asking about are “un tren” (a train), “la estación de ferrocarril” (the bus station), and “un banco” (a bank). Before going on your trip, review the words for locations that you’re likely to ask about. As long as you remember those and “¿Dónde está?”, you’ll be good to go.
If you ask a Spanish speaker where something is, they’ll likely respond with Spanish directions. “a la derecha” means “right”, A la izquierda means “left”, and “derecho” means “straight ahead.” Also, “en la esquina means “at the corner” and “cuadras” means “blocks.”
If Things Go Wrong
It is our hope that your trip to a Spanish-speaking country occurs without any problems whatsoever. However, just in case something isn’t working properly in your hotel room, say “No funciona”, meaning “it doesn’t work.” Be as clear as possible, and throw in some “Por favor” and “Gracias” to ensure you are as polite as possible.