All EOS blogs All Spain blogs  Start your own blog Start your own blog 

Expat Guide To Spain

Just a place to help Expats settle into this wonderful country!

Spanish Language Survival Guide: Key Phrases for Daily Life
Thursday, February 29, 2024 @ 7:24 PM


Moving to a new country with a different language can be a daunting experience, especially for expatriates who need to quickly adapt to their new environment both personally and professionally. Spanish, being the second most spoken language in the world, opens up an array of cultures stretching from the rainforests of South America to the Iberian Peninsula's historic cities. Learning Spanish can seem like a mountainous challenge, but with the right approach and some essential phrases, you can make your daily interactions much more manageable. This guide will navigate you through some key Spanish phrases for daily life and provide language learning resources and tips for dealing with language barriers in a professional context.

Basic Spanish for Everyday Interactions

Greetings and Politeness

Your Spanish journey begins with pleasantries – the bread and butter of daily exchanges. Here are some common greetings and polite phrases:

  • Good morning: "Buenos días" (BWEH-nos DEE-as)

  • Good afternoon/evening: "Buenas tardes" (BWEH-nas TAR-des)

  • Good night: "Buenas noches" (BWEH-nas NO-chehs)

  • Hello/Hi: "Hola" (OH-lah)

  • Please: "Por favor" (por fa-VOR)

  • Thank you: "Gracias" (GRAH-see-as)

  • You're welcome: "De nada" (de NAH-dah)

  • Excuse me/Sorry: "Perdón" or "Lo siento" (per-DON/lo SYEN-to)

These basics help to establish a courteous interaction with anyone you meet. Remember, being polite is key in Hispanic cultures.

Shopping and Dining

When shopping or dining, you’ll need to understand and use some common expressions:

  • How much is it?: "¿Cuánto cuesta?" (KWAN-to KWES-ta)

  • The bill, please: "La cuenta, por favor" (lah KWEN-tah, por fa-VOR)

  • I would like...: "Quisiera..." (kee-SYER-ah)

  • Do you have...?: "¿Tiene...?" (tyen-eh)

  • I don’t understand: "No entiendo" (no en-TYEN-do)

  • Can you help me?: "¿Puede ayudarme?" (PWUE-deh ah-yu-DAR-me)

  • A table for two, please: "Una mesa para dos, por favor" (OO-nah ME-sah PAH-rah DOS, por fa-VOR)

Directions and Transportation

Getting around can be one of the more stressful aspects of navigating a new place. Some phrases to help you find your way:

  • Where is...?: "¿Dónde está...?" (DON-deh es-TAH)

  • How do I get to...?: "¿Cómo llego a...?" (KO-mo YEH-go a...)

  • I’m looking for...: "Estoy buscando..." (es-TOY bus-KAN-do)

  • Is it far?: "¿Está lejos?" (es-TAH LEH-hos)

  • Bus station: "Estación de autobuses" (es-ta-SYON de au-to-BU-ses)

  • Train station: "Estación de tren" (es-ta-SYON de tren)

  • The airport: "El aeropuerto" (el ah-eh-RO-pwer-to)

Handling Difficult Situations

Even with a few phrases under your belt, it’s normal to encounter misunderstandings:

  • I need help: "Necesito ayuda" (neh-SE-see-to ah-YOU-dah)

  • I’m lost: "Estoy perdido" (eh-STOY per-DEE-doh)

  • Call the police: "Llame a la policía" (YAH-meh a lah po-LEE-syah)

  • I need a doctor: "Necesito un médico" (neh-SE-see-to oon MEH-dee-coh)

Being prepared with these phrases can help you navigate the most stressful situations with a little more ease.



Language Learning Resources for Expats

As an expat, immersing yourself in the Spanish language is crucial. Here are several resources that can facilitate your learning:

Language Learning Apps

Mobile apps make language learning flexible and accessible. Popular ones include Duolingo, Babbel, Rosetta Stone, and Memrise. They offer varied learning styles, from gamified lessons to traditional coursework, catering to your personal preferences.

Online Spanish Courses

There is an abundance of online courses tailored for all levels. Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and EdX offer courses created by universities and language experts. A structured course can be particularly helpful for understanding grammar and expanding vocabulary.

Language Exchange Meetups

Participating in language exchange meetups can offer practice with native speakers. Websites like or apps like Tandem can help you find language exchange groups in your area.

Spanish Media

Incorporate Spanish media into your daily life. Watching Spanish films, listening to Spanish music, or reading Spanish newspapers can enhance your understanding of the language and culture.

Navigating Language Barriers in Professional Settings

In professional settings, communication barriers can be challenging but also fruitful learning opportunities.

Preparing Key Phrases

Prepare phrases specific to your occupation or industry. It’s helpful to know technical terms and phrases that will appear frequently in your workplace.

Language Courses for Professionals

Language schools often offer courses designed for professionals in specific fields such as business, healthcare, or law. These tailored courses can help you quickly learn the vocabulary necessary for your professional interactions.

Utilising Language Services

Don’t shy away from using professional interpreting or translation services, especially for important meetings or document translations. It ensures clarity in communication and helps maintain professionalism.

Practice Makes Perfect

Engage in conversational practice with colleagues. They often appreciate the effort and may be willing to help you improve your language skills.

Starting life in a Spanish-speaking country as an expat can seem like a monumental task. Still, by learning key phrases for daily life and using the resources available, you can gradually build confidence in your language abilities. It is not simply about learning a language but about engaging with a rich and diverse culture. Remember, every conversation is a step towards fluency, and every mistake is a learning opportunity. Embrace the journey of learning Spanish; the rewards it brings are immeasurable, both personally and professionally. ¡Buena suerte! (Good luck!)

Like 5


PablodeRonda said:
Sunday, March 3, 2024 @ 7:46 PM

What a great article! Well done the author, whoever you are!
I think it is so important to make an effort to use Spanish. The locals appreciate you trying.
I am British (Anglo-Welsh) and have lived in Andalucía for nearly 16 years.
I was a teacher of Spanish in three English schools for 15 years; then a schools adviser/inspector for another 15, before early retirement allowed me to fulfill my dream and move to Spain to live.
I also have a blog on Eye On Spain, called Spanish Matters, where I try to assist foreigners with learning Spanish.
Check out:

Only registered users can comment on this blog post. Please Sign In or Register now.


This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x