8 Important Expressions in Spanish – speak like a local!
Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world and it inspires emigrants and tourists just as much as the small, dreamy alleys and delicious tapas that Spain has to offer. If you are planning to travel to Málaga for a language course, you should definitely know these important Spanish words and use them in Spain right away – this will impress the locals, adapt to their customs, and make it easier for them to get along with you.
Important Spanish words 1: ¡QUÉ GUAY!
How do you pronounce that? Quite exactly as it is written, namely “Guai”.
What does that mean and when do you use it? It means “how great, great, cool”. Young people constantly intersperse the expression in their conversations and react to the stories of their friends with an approving ¡Qué guay!
Important Spanish words 2: Vale
How do you pronounce that? “Bale” (the V is spoken as B)
What does that mean and when do you use it? An important word in the Spanish language that can mean a lot: Okay, all right, sounds good, I get it, no problem. The basis is the verb valer (= to be worth something, in the sense of ¿cuánto vale? – How much does it cost?), but the expression stands for so much more than that. It is used, for example, to agree to what was said before or to confirm it. “(“We meet tomorrow at eleven, vale?” or “Call me again later, then we’ll turn it off.” Vale, I’ll call you.) If you stay in Spain for a while, you will notice that people like to say it two or three times (“sí, vale, vale, vale”).
Important Spanish words 3: Hombre
How do you pronounce that? “Ombre” (the H is mute)
What does that mean and when do you use it? Literally means “man”, but is also used to confirm what has just been said or to give more weight to the whole. Most commonly used as: No, yes/ of course, for greetings or requests. This is how it sounds:
No – “Do you like your boss?” Qué va, hombre, para nada. (Not at all, not at all.)
Yes/Natural – ¡Claro que sí, hombre! (Of course, I’m sure.)
Welcome – ¡Hombre! Cómo estás? (Hey man! How are you?)
Please – ¡Vamos, hombre, por favor! (Oh, come on, man, please.)
And all this shouldn’t sound too strange to the native German speaker, because in German the “man” is used in exactly the same way (we don’t want to start with the “old”).
Important Spanish words 4: TÍO/TÍA
How do you pronounce that? “Tio/Tia” (as it is written, but a special emphasis is placed on the “i”)
What does that mean and when do you use it? Literally this Spanish word denotes the uncle or aunt. But Spaniards use the “dude” or “guy” (“Look at those guys over there!” or “Who said that?”) in a similar way to speakers of English. “I don’t know, just some dude.”), and in German the “type” or “age” – or in North German the “Digger” – comes closest to the thing. Even if you want to call your friends or draw their attention, you can simply call them with “Tío/tía, come here!
Important Spanish words 5: ¿CÓMO VAS?
How do you pronounce that? “Como bas” (We remember: the V is pronounced as B)
What does that mean and when do you use it? Spaniards are generally very friendly, start a conversation with you quickly, and know several ways to ask the classic question of “How are you? Such greeting phrases are used casually throughout the day – during small talk, when you meet friends, talk to your colleagues or with the cashier in the supermarket – so it makes sense to know these phrases as well. At first many visitors learn the frequently used ¿Qué tal?, but our fifth expression can also be remembered for the next time: ¿Cómo vas? literally means “How do you walk?”.
Important Spanish words 6: Guiri
How do you pronounce that? “Giri”
What does that mean and when do you use it? If you don’t want to attract attention among Spaniards, it is better to find out in advance how he or she does not want to look like a guiri. The Guiris are very obvious foreigners of tourists, mostly from an English-speaking country or from Central and Northern Europe. Spaniards call all those who behave in a non-Spanish way: for example, when they go to dinner much too early or arrange to meet in a bar, when they work with large city maps or cameras on street corners, talk extremely loudly in front of monuments or during sightseeing, wear short jeans and flip-flops all year round, or when they only order sangria.
Important Spanish words 7: Buenas
How do you pronounce that? “Buenas” (as it is written)
What does that mean and when do you use it? Begin the sunny Spanish morning with a cheerful “Buenos días”, continue in the evening with “Buenas tardes” and when it’s time to say goodbye or good night, then say buenas noches. It is even easier if you simply say “Buenas!” at any time of the day. You get an equally lively “Buenas!” back and can deal with more important things – such as how much tortilla and patatasbravas you want to order for lunch.
Important Spanish words 8: ¡Venga Yay!
How do you pronounce that? “Benga yes” (And again the V is spoken as B)
What does that mean and when do you use it? This is also an important word in Spanish, which will give you a few extra points, as you know a phrase that goes beyond the standard list of tourist words. With ¡Venga ya! (or sometimes simply: ¡Venga!) you express surprise or unbelief. You use it like “Oh no”, “Don’t be serious!” or “Don’t talk nonsense!” when you are shocked or sceptical.