Do you remember any of your high school Spanish? Probably not if you never continued. Spanish is becoming one of the most useful languages since it’s spoken in so many countries and you can travel half the world by knowing Spanish.
If you want to learn a few phrases for traveling, it’ll be extremely helpful. Spanish is not as impossible as you might think – there’s actually quite a few words that are either the same or very similar to English.
If you’re traveling in any Spanish speaking country, our guide will help immensely as it’s full of basic and important words and phrases for traveling.
This post has been updated January 2018.
Let’s Learn Spanish!
- How to speak Spanish – all the basics you’ll need
- Learn by reading & listening
- Download our free printable Spanish survival guide
- How to take it to the next level
- Basic Words
- Common Questions
I know that the language barrier can sometimes be intimidating and every traveler goes through a “I wish I knew how to say that!” moment while on their journeys. Trust me, I was in many situations while traveling in Central America where I wished I knew how to speak Spanish to be able to communicate properly.
In Costa Rica, locals love it when foreigners try to speak Spanish. You can just know some basic Spanish and they’ll be happy to talk to you, however broken it might be. It’s the effort that counts! (No, you can’t just put “O” at the end of words…well except for architect – arquitecto).
So let’s get started!
Basic Spanish For Beginners
Here is a short video to introduce some easy Spanish words and get you warmed up!
This is just a taste of some important words in Spanish so let’s move on to the rest!
Learn How to Speak Spanish – Survival Spanish for Travelers
In these sections we will write out the words in Spanish and English translation and how to pronounce it.
Remember, these words and phrases are for Costa Rica. Other countries might use different words and some words may mean something completely different. Not to mention their accents are different as well!
These are the basic words that will help you get through your day with ease and you can use these anywhere in the world.
Yes – Si (See)
No – No
Fine – Bien (bee-en)
Bad – Malo (mahl-o)
Please – Por favor (pohr fah-VOR)
Thank you – Gracias (gra-SEE-ahs)
Thank you very much – Muchas gracias (moo-chahs gra-SEE-ahs)
You’re welcome – De nada (deh NA-da)
Excuse me – Con permiso (kohn pehr-MEE-soh) Use if you need to squeeze by somebody.
Pardon me – Perdóname (pehr-DOH-nah-meh) Use if you accidentally bump into someone.
I’m sorry – Lo siento (low see-EHN-to)
Remember to say each word out loud a few times so it commits to your long term memory. It may feel weird at first but don’t worry this is one of the easiest and best ways to learn Spanish.
Learning friendly Spanish greetings will help you take the basics and use them in conversation with people.
Hello – Hola (Oh-la)
Bye – Adiós (ah-dee-OHS)
Good morning – Buenos días (booEHN-os DEE-as)
Good afternoon – Buenas tardes (booEHN-as TAR-dehs)
Good night – Buenas noches (booEHN-as NO-chehs)
How are you? – Cómo estás? (KOH-moh ehs-TA)
What is your name? – Cómo se llama? (KOH-moh seh JA-mah)
My name is – Mi nombre es (me nu-om-ber-ay ess)
Nice to meet you – Mucho gusto (MOO-choh GOOS-toh)
Where are you from? – De dónde eres? (Deh-DONH-day AIR-ess)
I am from … – Yo soy de … (Jo su-oy deh)
How old are you? – Cuántos años tienes? (Ca-wan-TOS anh-yos TEE-en-es)
I am … years old – Tengo … años (tuh-ang-go … an-yos)
See you later – Hasta luego (AHS-ta looEH-go)
Have a good day! – Tenga un buen día! (tang-ga oo-n booEHN dee-ah)
These are very important common phrases that can help you in nearly all situations. Even knowing just a few of these can help communicate your needs much easier to whoever is listening.
Where is the… ? – Dónde está … ? (Dohn-day eh-stah) Insert what you are looking for: hotel, market, beach, etc.
I need the bathroom – Necesito el baño (NUH-ess-seh-see-to el BAH-neeo)
I need to go to the … – Necesito ir a …(NUH-ess-seh-see-to eer AH…)
How do I get to …? – Como llego … (KOH-moh-jeh-go)
I am hungry –Tengo hambre (tang-GO OM-bray)
I am thirsty – Tengo sed (tang-GO seh-DUH)
Is it OK? – Esta bien? (eh-stah bee-en) Use when you are asking if it is OK to do something.
What time is it? – Qué hora es? (kay or-AH ess)
These are extremely helpful if there is no around who speaks your native language or when you are trying to understand something in Spanish.
Do you speak… (English) ? – Hablas inglés? (a-blah een-glis). Insert other language such as francés, italiano, ruso, alemán, etc..
I don’t speak Spanish – No hablo español (no a-blo es-pan-yol)
I speak a little Spanish – Yo hablo un poco de español (jo a-blo oo-n poh-coh deh es-pan-yol)
How do you say … in Spanish? – (Como se dice … en español? Co-mo say dee-say … ee-n ES-pan-yol)
What does … mean in English? – Que significa … en ingles (kay cig-ni-fee-kah… ee-n een-glays)
How do you spell it? – Como se escribe … ? (Co-mo say es-cree-bay)
I don’t understand – No entiendo (no en-tee-en-doh)
Speak slower please – Por favor, habla más despacio (pohr fah-VOR, AH-blah mahs dehs-PAHS-ee-oh)
Can you repeat please – Podrías repetir por favor (poh-dree-AHS reh-peh-tee-eer pohr fah-VOR)
Now let’s move onto emergency phrases… very useful in case of a crisis!
Help! –Auxilio! (AH-oox-eel-ee-oh)
I am sick –Estoy enfermo (a) (ehs-TOY en-FER-mo)
I need help –Necesito ayuda (ness-es-ee-toh ah-ju-dah)
I had an accident – Tuve un accidente < (too-vay oon ack-see-den-tay)
I’ve been robbed – Me han robado (a) (may on roe-bah-do)
I lost my passport – Perdí mi pasaporte (pea-er-dee mi pass-ah-por-tey)
I am lost – Estoy perdido (ehs-TOY pehr-DEE-doh)
I don’t feel well –No me siento bien (no may see-yen-toe bee-en)
I need a doctor –Necesito un médico (ness-ess-ee-toh oon MED-ee-koh)
Send the police –Envie a la policia (en-vee-ay ah la poh-lee-see-ah)
Congratulations! We have just covered some of the most crucial general words and phrases to know: introductions, communication and emergencies.
These are words that can help you the most on your travels and are the basis to cover in any foreign language.
Try practicing when you are out and about and see how much you improve after saying the words just one or two times. Gets a lot easier right?
One – Uno (oo-no)
Two – Dos (doe-ss)
Three – Tres (ter-ess)
Four – Cuatro (koo-ah-tro)
Five – Cinco (seen-koh)
Six – Seis (sa-ay-ess)
Seven – Siete (see-ye-tay)
Eight – Ocho (oh-cho)
Nine – Nueve (nu-ev-ay)
Ten – Diez (dee-es)
Eleven – Once (own-say)
Twelve – Doce (doe-say)
Thirteen – Trece (trey-say)
Fourteen – Catorce (kah-tor-say)
Fifteen – Quince (keen-say)
Sixteen – Dieciséis (dee-es-see-SAY-SS)
Seventeen – Diecisiete (dee-es-see-eh-tay)
Eighteen – Dieciocho (dee-es-see-oh-cho)
Nineteen – Diecinueve (dee es-see-NU-ev-ay)
Twenty – Veinte (Vang-tay)
Thirty – Treinta (TRE-ang-ta)
Forty – Cuarenta (kuh-REN-tah)
Fifty – Cincuenta (seen-KUH-EN-tah)
One hundred – Cien (see-en)
Two hundred – Doscientos (doe-SEE-en-tos)
Five hundred – Quinientos (kee-NI-en-tos)
One thousand – Mil (me-ill)
Five thousand – Cinco mil (seen-koh me-ill)
Ten thousand – Diez mil (dee-es me-ill)
One hundred thousand – Cien mil (see-en me-ill)
One million – Un millón (un mee-JOH-nuh)
In Costa Rica, the exchange rate is around 500 to 1 so it is important to know “thousand” and “five hundred.” So 2000 colones ($4) is dos mil, 10,000 colones ($20) is diez mil and 20,500 colones ($41) is veinte mil quinientos.
Quinientos is kind of a tricky number to remember but it is important because you will hear it often when shopping in Costa Rica.
Learn more about Costa Rican currency here.
During your trip, you will most likely want to buy some souvenirs and such. It is helpful to know some shopping phrases as not everyone who works at souvenirs stores may speak English.
Psst… learn what the tipping customs are in Costa Rica too! It’s helpful to know!
I’m just looking – Solo estoy mirando (soh-lo EE-stoy MER-an-do)
How much does it cost? – Cuanto cuesta? (kooAN-to KWEHS-ta)
I’m looking for … – Estoy buscando … (ees-toy BOO-scan-doh) Insert what you’re looking for.
What sizes do you have? – Que tallas tienes? (kay TAH-jas tee-en-es)
Can I pay with card? – Puedo pagar con tarjeta?(puh-EH-do PAH-gar kon tar-HEH-ta)
Can I try it on? – Me lo puedo probar? (may lo puh-EH-do PRO-bar)
Do you have other colors? – Tienes otro colores? (tee-en-is OH-tro KOH-lor-ess)
Are there any sales? – Hay descuentos? (eye dis-COO-EN-toes)
I’ll buy it – Lo voy a comprar (lo va-oy a kohm-prah)
I like it – Me gusta (may GOO-sta)
In Central America, it is normal to ask for discounts or bargain. For tourists, it will be helpful to know numbers so you can bargain a little bit to see if you can get things cheaper. It never hurts to ask!
Restaurant and Eating Out
Most places have their menu in Spanish and English and the majority of the workers speaks English to some extent. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t practice your Spanish and the staff will be much appreciative. That is what I call a win-win situation ^_^
The bill please – La cuenta por favor (La KWEN-ta por fuh-vore)
Where is a good restaurant? – Donde esta un buen restaurante? (Dohn-day eh-stah oo-n booEHN res-tor-on-tay)
I would like to see the menu – Quiero ver el menú (KEE-air-o vuh-air ell men-OO)
I would like to order now – Me gustaría ordenar ahora (may goo-sta-REE-ah OR-dehn-ar a-OR-ah)
I’d like a table for two – Quisiera una mesa para dos (KEE-see-ay-rahoo-nah MEH-sah PAH-rah do-ess)
What do you recommend? – Que nos recomienda? (kay no-ess reh-KOH-me-en-dah)
A beer please – Una cerveza por favor (oo-na ser-VEH-sah por fuh-vore)
I am allergic to … – Soy alérgico a … (soy ah-LER-he-co ah)
It’s so good! – Muy bueno!(moo-ey boo-en-no)
Do you have dessert? – Tienen postres? (tee-en-in POH-stir-ays)
I have a reservation – Tengo una reservación (tang-goh oo-nah reh-SER-vah-see-ohn)
What’s the nightly rate? – Cuanto es la tarifa por noche? (kooAN-toh ess la tah-REE-fah por no-chay)
Do you have rooms available? – Tiene habitaciones disponibles (tee-en-ay ab-ee-tah-SEE-onn-ess DEHS-pohn-ee-blay-ess)
I’d like a double room – Quisiera una habitación doble (KEE-see-ay-rah un-nah ah-bee-tah-SEE-ohn doh-buh-ley)
May I see the room? – Me permite ver la habitación? (may pehr-MEE-tay vehr la ah-bee-tah-SEE-ohn)
I’d like to stay for … nights – Me gustaria quedarme por … noches(may goo-sta-REE-ah kay-DAR-may por… no-chuh-ess)
Is breakfast included? – El desayuno esta incluido?(el dess-ah-JU-no ehs-tah en-CLU-ee-doh)
Is there a restaurant here? – Hay restaurante? (eye res-TOR-an-tay)
Felicitaciones! You have just learned how to speak Spanish such as introducing yourself, asking for directions, ordering at a restaurant, counting, buying things, asking about hotels, calling for help and so much more!
Download Our Free Survival Spanish Pocket Guide
This pocket guide is divided into 11 different sections: Basics, directions, greetings, emergencies, common questions, shopping, numbers, time, restaurant, hotels and activities.
In the sections are all the phrases listed above plus a few extra helpful ones. Once you know a little bit, you’ll want to keep expanding your vocabulary and keep learning Spanish!
We created this guide so that you can just slide it in your pocket, take it out whenever you need to look something up or just want to review the words in your downtime.
It never hurts to know more words just in case and these are phrases that are helpful to know in any language.
Remember, practice is key! Say these words to yourself more than once and try to integrate them on your trip. The more you know and the more confident you are, the easier it will be.
Click here to download the pocket guide
Taking it to the next level
I’m the kind of person who learns best by reading and writing things down. If I see it in my own handwriting, I remember it much faster. There’s a lot of ways to learn how to speak Spanish and everyone is a different learner but I don’t learn well just by talking to people! They would say a word to me, I would ask what it meant and then I’d forget the next second.
There are plenty of programs, apps and software out there to help you learn and I did trial and error with several before I found the one that I really loved – Duolingo. It’s free, it’s fun and interactive.
Some other programs are Rosetta Stone which I’m sure you heard of, Rocket Languages, Babbel, Duolingo, Transparent Language and others. There are tons! Do some research and look around to see which one would help you the most and fit your schedule.
Already know how to speak Spanish? Then learn some Costa Rican slang! Here are Yeison’s favorite Costa Rican sayings.