100 Spanish words you need to know

by Alison Maciejewski
March 23, 2021
friend slooking up popular Spanish words

It’s hard to learn Spanish from zero. You need a foundation of basic Spanish vocabulary in order to say anything. Plus, when you travel to a Spanish-speaking country you need to understand the basics of what native Spanish speakers are saying to you. We shared our tips to increase your Spanish vocabulary before. Now it’s time to dig into survival Spanish. Here are 100 Spanish words you need to know.

Top 20 most common words in Spanish

We wrote about the top 20 most spoken words in Spanish before. Check the link for more detailed definitions and pronunciation tips for native English speakers. Do a quick review of these before moving onto the full list of 100.

  1. de – of/from
  2. la – the (feminine singular article)
  3. que – that/which
  4. el – the 
  5. en – in/on 
  6. y – and 
  7. a – to/at 
  8. los – the (masculine plural article)
  9. se – oneself 
  10. del – from the 
  11. las – the (feminine plural article)
  12. un – a/an
  13. por – by/for/through
  14. con – with
  15. no – no/not 
  16. una – a/an/one 
  17. su – his/her/its/your 
  18. para – for/to/in order to 
  19. es – is 
  20. al – to the 

20 basic Spanish words for travelling

The basic Spanish you need for travel isn’t the same stuff as you learn in online Spanish lessons when you learn Spanish from home. Classes are focused on linguistics and grammar. This is focused on survival Spanish and being polite. Here are the first 25 words and phrases you need for a trip to Málaga, Spain for example. 

  1. Hola – hello
  2. Por favor – please
  3. Gracias – thank you
  4. De nada – you’re welcome
  5. Sí – yes
  6. No – no
  7. Buenos días – good morning
  8. Buenas tardes – good afternoon
  9. Buenas noches – good evening/night
  10. Amiga/o – friend (-a ending means female, -o ending is male following the traditional rule about gendered nouns in Spanish grammar basics)
  11. Antes – before
  12. Ahora – now
  13. Después – later
  14. Momento – one moment
  15. Me gusta – I like ___
  16. No me gusta – I don’t like ___
  17. Muy – very
  18. Nunca – never
  19. Mismo – same
  20. Igual – the same

20 basic verbs in Spanish

Verbs are a huge part of the Spanish language. Review your basic verb conjugation in Spanish to know how to use them properly. This list will help you to recognize verbs in basic Spanish conversation. 

  1. Ser – to be (permanently)
  2. Ester – to be (temporarily)
  3. Ir – to go
  4. Hacer – to do/make
  5. Haber – to have (in existence)
  6. Tener – to have (in posession)
  7. Poner – to put
  8. Entender – to understand
  9. Deber – to owe
  10. Pagar – to pay
  11. Costar – to cost
  12. Comer – to eat
  13. Beber – to drink
  14. Tomar – to take/drink
  15. Hablar – to speak
  16. Decir – to say
  17. Escuchar – to listen
  18. Mirar – to watch
  19. Ver – to see
  20. Llegar – to arrive

20 common Spanish adjectives

Adjectives are description words. Here are 20 common Spanish adjectives.

  1. Nuevo – new
  2. Viejo – old
  3. Feliz – happy
  4. Triste – sad
  5. Enfermo – sick
  6. Bien – well 
  7. Grande – big
  8. Chico – small (Latin America)
  9. Pequeño – small (Spain)
  10. Buena – good
  11. Malo – bad
  12. Sin – without ___
  13. Con – with ___
  14. Mucho – a lot
  15. Poco – a little bit
  16. Hermosa – beautiful
  17. Feo – ugly
  18. Fácil – easy
  19. Fantástico – fantastic
  20. Automático – automatic

20 Spanish cognates

We talked about English-Spanish cognates in the office before. A cognate is a word that sounds identical or nearly the same in English and Spanish. These are the easiest Spanish vocabulary words to remember. In fact, these are Spanish words you already know.

  1. Celular – cell phone (Latin America)
  2. Móvil – mobile phone (Spain)
  3. Agenda – meeting agenda
  4. Documento – document
  5. Máquina – machine
  6. Día – day
  7. Segundo – second
  8. Minuto – minute
  9. Hora – hour
  10. Usar – to use
  11. Difícil – difficult
  12. Carro – car
  13. Persona – person
  14. Familia – family
  15. Alcohol – alcohol
  16. Animal – animal
  17. Romántico – romantic
  18. Pánico – panic
  19. Plástico – plastic
  20. Cómico – comical/funny

Take the 20 most common Spanish words, add basic Spanish vocabulary for travel, Spanish verbs, Spanish adjectives, and Spanish-English cognates. Now you have 100 common Spanish words to survive in your new language. Off to a great start!

Ready to move beyond the first 100 basic Spanish words? Register for a 7-day free trial with Lingoda and take your first Spanish class today. 

Choose your language and take your free Lingoda placement test

English

German

French

Spanish

Ready to start learning with Lingoda?

Customise your learning experience and enjoy the journey to fluency.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share this post