The most frequently used sentence starters and filler words in Spanish

The most frequently used sentence starters and filler words in Spanish

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated May 10, 2023

Learning a new language is exciting. As you advance in your Spanish learning, you’ll want to start adding in some words and phrases that native speakers use all the time. Using sentence starters and filler words can help your conversation flow smoothly and sound more natural.

In this article, you will learn some important Spanish sentence starters and filler words that can help you sound more confident when communicating in Spanish. 

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Sentence starters in Spanish

Below are some very common Spanish conversation starter sentences.. Many can also be used as filler words and in different places in the sentence (beginning, middle, end). 

Entonces – This is a useful filler word that means “so” or “then.” It connects two ideas.

  • Entonces, ¿qué vamos a hacer? (So, what are we going to do?)

A ver – This means “let’s see”

  • A ver, voy a ver si puedo cambiar mi horario. Quiero ir a la playa contigo. 

(Let’s see, I’m going to see if I can change my schedule. I want to go to the beach with you.)

Es que – This means “It’s just that” and is great when you are trying to explain yourself. 

  • ¿Por qué no quieres ir a la playa? (Why don’t you want to go to the beach?)
  • Es que tengo trabajo y no tengo bastante dinero. (It’s just that I have work and I don’t have enough money.)

Pues – This is a common filler word in Spanish and is equivalent to “well” in English. It’s used to express hesitation or uncertainty or to stall for time. 

  • Pues, no estoy seguro. (Well, I’m not sure.)

Bueno – This word means “good” or “well” and is used to signal a change in the conversation or to start a new thought.

  • Bueno, hablando de eso… (Well, speaking of that…)

Mira – This is a common way to start a sentence when you need to set a person straight or to be clear about something. It means “look”. 

  • Mira, llegaste tarde y ahora no podemos ver la película. (Look, you arrived late and now we cannot watch the movie.) 

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Common Spanish filler words

Spanish filler words are the things that Spanish speakers say to fill the silence while they think of what to say next. Um, let’s see, well, I mean…these are all examples of English filler words.

Here are a few common Spanish filler words.

Este – This is very common and can be used anywhere in a sentence. It is similar to English when we make the sounds “umm or ahh” to express uncertainty. 

  •  Este…no sé qué pasó con tu coche. (Um..I’m not sure what happened to your car.)
  • Estaré tarde, este, hay mucho tráfico. (I will be late, um, there is a lot of traffic.)

Es decir que – This filler word means “that is to say”. 

  • Es muy tarde, es decir que no voy a salir a esta hora. (It is very late, that is to say, I’m not going to leave at this hour.)

O sea – This filler word means “in other words”. It rephrases or clarifies a point. You’ll hear it in both Mexico and Spain.

  • No puedo ir al concierto, o sea, tengo que vender mi boleto. (I can’t go to the concert, in other words, I have to sell my ticket.)

¿Sabes? – This means “you know” and it is used in the same way in English. 

  • Mi perrito es muy importante para mí, ¿sabes? (My dog is very important to me, you know?)

Como – This means “like” and is used similarly to English. 

  • Es como una fusión de japonés y mexicana. (It is like a fusion of Japanese and Mexican.)

Ah vale – In English this means “Ah ok”. You can use this as you would use “ah ok” in English. 

  • Ah vale, los amigos van a llegar tarde. Comemos (Ah ok, our friends are going to arrive late. Let’s eat.)

Is it good to use filler words?

There is an ongoing debate about the linguistic value of filler words, both in Spanish and English. Some people think these phrases are too casual. Used too often, they can sound unprofessional. Think about the English filler word “like”. Like, if you say like too much, it, like, can affect how you are perceived. 

Used sparingly, it makes your phrasing sound like a natural conversation. Social media has good examples. Check out this TikTok to hear the correct pronunciation for mira (look) and es que (it’s just that).

As your listening skills improve, you will begin to notice Spanish filler words. Listen to popular Spanish vloggers and you will hear these words from time to time in videos. They help to keep the conversion moving.

If you decide not to use them, that’s fine. If they help you stall while thinking of what to say, that’s okay too. Knowing this special vocabulary can be useful as your response time in Spanish gets faster.


Sometimes, like, you just need that extra second to think of an answer, you know? Look, now you know how to use some sentence starters and filler words in Spanish. Using these words and phrases will help you sound more natural and confident when communicating in Spanish. They will also buy you a little time. Keep those conversations going and see improvement over time, you know

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Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Turkish. Her consulting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

Alison Maciejewski Cortez

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