The best way to learn Spanish is to jump into an immersive experience. Total immersion is being forced into 100% Spanish situations like a basic phone conversation in Spanish. It’s not easy at first, but you will learn quickly and gain confidence. If you study abroad to learn Spanish or live in a Spanish-speaking country, phone conversations in Spanish are a must. Though intermediate Spanish speakers may feel confident chatting face-to-face, polyglots will tell you that speaking by phone in Spanish is one of the most difficult parts of a secondary language.
The hard part about phone conversations in Spanish
The scary part about a phone conversation isn’t the chat itself. The hard part is navigating the social aspects of a conversation. What is polite to say? When do you say it? What are the natural-sounding responses to common questions? All this happens without behavioural cues, without facial expressions, and without the help of a visual feedback loop. Beyond language barriers, you are probably feeling extra nervous about making a social blunder. Going in blind, you are more likely to make a faux pas.
Let’s look at the language you need for a proper phone conversation with three main parts: the beginning, the middle, and the end.
The beginning: Social niceties in Spanish
To start a phone conversation in Spanish you need some social niceties. Thankfully, Spanish phone conversations are a lot like British ones. The beginning is asking if the other person is well before getting down to business.
Here are some useful phrases:
Formal: ¿Cómo esta? (How are you?) Muy bien,¿y usted? (Very well, and you?)
Informal for peers and family members: ¿Cómo estas? (How are you?) Bien,¿y tú? (Well, and you?)
Other phrasing: ¿Qué tal? ¿Cómo le va? ¿Qué honda?
Besides asking after the other person, there are common polite comments you might need to say:
Gracias por su tiempo – Thank you for your time.
Como siempre – Like always/As usual.
Lo agradezco – I appreciate it.
Whether it’s a chat with your familia or a formal job interview, Spanish phone conversations require polite behaviour. Use these phrases and you will capture the fine details that set you apart as a confident Spanish speaker.
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The middle: Keep the Spanish conversation going
We’ve talked before on the Lingoda blog about keeping a conversation flowing. Without the ability to visually nod your head, you need to let the other person know you are engaged. A small comment shows that you are listening and interested. My secret weapon phrase is this: Ah, sí. (Oh yes). Repeat it whenever. Throw in a descriptive verb or adjective to change things up.
Ah sí, entiendo – Oh yes, I understand.
Ah sí, interesante – Oh yes, interesting.
Ah sí, no me di cuenta – Oh yes, I didn’t realise.
Ah sí, me imagino – Oh yes, I imagine so.
Tip: This all-purpose phrase can also be used as a question: Ah, ¿sí? (Oh yes? Is that so?) For more options, review our blog post on 10 common Spanish phrases to keep the conversation moving.
The end: Signing off in Spanish
Getting out of a phone conversation in Spanish is nearly as tricky as getting into one. We tend to be shy in a secondary language. Remember to speak with confidence. Don’t be scared to cut the conversation off.
Disculpe, tengo otra reunión a las tres – Sorry, I have another meeting at three o’clock.
¿Qué hora es? – What time is it?
Bueno, ya es tarde – Well, it’s getting late.
Sra. Gomez, quiero agradecerle por tomar el tiempo… – Mrs. Gomez, I want to thank you for taking the time.
Here are some phrases for your final goodbye. Remember to show your personality, just as you would in English.
Saludos a todos – Say hello to everyone.
Abrazos – hugs – (for family and friends only).
Adios – Goodbye.
Hasta luego – until next time.
Chao – Bye (specifically in Chilean Spanish).
Do you want to listen for the natural delivery of these phrases? Watch more movies in Spanish and copy the inflection of native speakers. From polite conversation starters to voicing your interest to signing off, these small phrases will help you to survive Spanish phone conversations. The more phone calls in Spanish that you have, the more comfortable you will feel. The phone will always be tough, but always remember that practise makes perfect.
Try a mock phone conversation in Spanish with Lingoda! Take advantage of a free 7-day trial with our native speaking Spanish teachers today.