Useful phrases in Spanish for beginners (and some essential vocabulary)

Useful phrases in Spanish for beginners (and some essential vocabulary)

by Jakob Straub

Updated June 19, 2023

Spanish is a highly “oral” language, meaning conversation and verbal exchange play an important role in daily and social life. When learning Spanish as a beginner, you should therefore put great emphasis on learning to speak and understand basic Spanish. A lot of simple communication in Spanish happens with short phrases and replies of often just a few words. Fortunately, you can acquire basic language skills by learning a few key phrases, expressions and words. We’ll give you an overview of useful Spanish phrases as well as essential vocabulary.

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You can use the following simple Spanish phrases to greet someone formally and informally.

  • Good morning – Buenos días
  • Good afternoon/good evening – Buenas tardes
  • Good night – Buenas noches
  • Hello – ¡Hola!
  • Greetings – Saludos

Being polite and social

With the following Spanish phrases, you can introduce yourself and ask about the well-being of someone else:

  • How are you? –  ¿Cómo estás? (informal) or ¿Cómo está usted? (formal)
  • How are you? / What’s up? – ¿Qué tal?
  • How’s it going? – ¿Cómo te va?
  • What are you doing? – ¿Qué haces?
  • What’s going on? – ¿Qué pasa?
  • My name is… – Me llamo… or Mi nombre es… 
  • I am (from)… – Soy (de)… 

To reply and start a conversation, you can use these phrases:

  • Nice meeting you – Mucho gusto or Encantado/encantada
  • I am fine – Estoy bien
  • Good, thank you – Bien, gracias
  • Very well – Muy bien
  • So, so – Así, así
  • As always – Como siempre
  • And you? – ¿Y tú? (informal) or ¿Y usted? (formal)

Here are more polite expressions for conversation:

  • Thank you, thanks a million. – ¡Gracias! or ¡Muchas Gracias!
  • You’re welcome! – ¡De nada!
  • Please (at the beginning or end of a request) – Por favor
  • Excuse me – ¡Perdon!, ¡Perdóname, ¡Permiso! or ¡Disculpe!
  • I’m sorry! – ¡Lo siento!
  • Welcome! – ¡Bienvenido! / ¡Bienvenidos!
  • Congratulations! –  ¡Felicidades! or ¡Enhorabuena!
  • Enjoy! – ¡Disfruta!
  • Bon appetit! – ¡Buen provecho!
  • Cheers! / Bless you! – ¡Salud!
  • Happy Birthday! – ¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

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Asking simple and common questions

These are the most common words to begin or ask a question in Spanish:

  • What…? – ¿Qué…?
  • Who…? – ¿Quién…?
  • When…? – ¿Cuándo…?
  • Where…? – ¿Dónde…?
  • Why…? – ¿Por qué…?
  • Which…? – ¿Cuál…?
  • How…? – ¿Cómo…?

Here are more phrases for asking basic questions in Spanish:

  • What time is it? – ¿Qué hora es?
  • Where are you from? – ¿De dónde eres?
  • How much does it cost? – ¿Cuánto cuesta?
  • How do you say…? – ¿Cómo se dice…?
  • How do you call…? – ¿Cómo se llama…?
  • What does … mean ? – ¿Qué significa…?
  • Can you help me? – ¿Puede ayudarme?
  • Do you understand? – ¿Entiende?
  • Can you repeat? – ¿Podría repetir, por favor? or ¿Podría repetirlo, por favor?
  • Can you speak slower? – ¿Puedes hablar más despacio?
  • In English? – ¿En inglés?
  • Do you speak English? – ¿Habla inglés? (formal) or ¿Hablas inglés? (informal)
  • Where is…? – ¿Dónde está…?

You can use these simple and common answers to reply to many questions:

  • Yes – 
  • No – No
  • Maybe – Tal vez or Quizás
  • Always – Siempre
  • Never – Nunca
  • Of course – Claro
  • No problem! – ¡Sin problema!
  • I don’t understand – No entiendo
  • I don’t know (it) – No (lo) sé
  • I don’t speak Spanish – No hablo español
  • I’m lost – Estoy perdido
  • I need help – Necesito ayuda

Useful in conversation and daily situations

Whether you want to order food or ask for directions, these phrases will help you navigate daily life in Spanish:

  • I need… – Necesito…
  • I would like… – Quisiera…
  • I like (I enjoy)… – Me gusta…
  • The check, please – La cuenta, por favor
  • Where’s the bathroom? – ¿Dónde está el baño?
  • I’m hungry / thirst. – Tengo hambre / sed
  • Breakfast – el desayuno
  • Lunch – el almuerzo
  • Dinner – la cena
  • Water – el agua
  • A coffee (with milk and sugar) – Un café (con leche y azúcar)
  • The soup – la sopa
  • The salad – la ensalada
  • The chicken – el pollo
  • The meat – la carne
  • Red / white wine – vino tinto / blanco
  • A beer – una cerveza
  • A ticket – un billete
  • When does the bus / train / plane arrive? – ¿A qué hora llega el bus / tren / avión?
  • Where can I find a taxi? – ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi?
  • Where is the (metro / train) station? – ¿Dónde está la estación de metro / tren?
  • Here – aquí
  • There – allí
  • On the right / left – a la derecha / izquierda
  • Straight ahead – derecho
  • At the corner (with) – en la esquina (con)

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Saying goodbye

  • Goodbye – Adiós, Chao
  • See you later / soon – ¡Hasta luego!
  • See you tomorrow – ¡Hasta mañana!
  • See you, I’ll be seeing you – Nos vemos
  • Have a good day – ¡Buen día!
  • Have a good trip – ¡Buen viaje!
  • Have a nice day – ¡Tenga un buen día!

The most frequent Spanish words

The Royal Spanish Academy, or Real Academia Española, has analyzed millions of word forms as used in written and spoken Spanish to compile a list of the most frequent words. Jump-start your Spanish vocabulary learning with these fifty most commonly used Spanish words.

of; fromdepreposition
the (third person feminine singular pronoun)laarticle, pronoun
that, whichqueconjunction
in, onenpreposition
to, atapreposition
the (third person masculine direct object)losarticle, pronoun
-self, oneself (reflexive)sepronoun
from thedelpreposition
The (third person feminine direct object)lasarticle, pronoun
a, anunarticle
by, for, throughporpreposition
no, notnoadverb
a, an, oneunaarticle
his / her / its / yoursupossessive
for, to, in order toparapreposition
to thealpreposition
the (third person masculine direct object)loarticle, pronoun
like, ascomoconjunction
third person indirect objectlepronoun
he / she / it has (done something)haverb
if, whethersiconjunction
on top of, over, aboutsobrepreposition
already, stillyaadverb
all, everytodoadjective
to beserverb
they are, you are (pl.)sonverb
too, also, as welltambiénadverb
I / he / she / it / there washabíaverb
from, sincedesdepreposition


Learning a new language can be challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. We’ve highlighted some of the most useful phrases and expressions in Spanish for beginners. From basic greetings to essential vocabulary, these phrases are the building blocks of any conversation in Spanish. By mastering these phrases, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively with native Spanish speakers and immerse yourself in the language and culture. Whether you’re planning a trip to a Spanish-speaking country or simply want to expand your language skills, these phrases are a great place to start. ¡Suerte!

Learn languages at your pace

Jakob Straub

Jakob is a freelance writer in Barcelona, Spain, and his favorite books have pages all empty. As an expert storyteller, he publishes creative fiction in English and German and helps other authors shape their manuscripts into compelling stories. Thanks to an expertise in a wide range of topics such as writing, literature and productivity to marketing, travel, and technology, he produces engaging content for his clients. Apart from the escape that books offer, Jakob enjoys traveling digital nomad style and stays active with climbing and hiking. Find out more about him on his websiteTwitter or on Goodreads.

Jakob Straub

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