Spanish Words and Phrases to Know

Spanish is a beautiful language and the world’s second most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese. As an international student in Spain, interested in learning the Spanish language, you surely want to begin somewhere. Whether you decide to learn by practice, attend a language course, or download an app on your smartphone, make sure you check out the following Spanish words and phrases included in this article. 

As an international student in Spain, among thousands, you will find there is plenty to look forward to (note: learning the language, making friends, getting a quality education, and thoroughly enjoying an extraordinary study abroad experience).

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Here are some Spanish words and phrases to know as an international student in Spain:

Basic Spanish Words to Know as an International Student

A few essential Spanish words that you might need in everyday conversation include the following: 

  • Hola = Hello
  • Adiós = Goodbye
  • Sí = Yes
  • No = No
  • Año = Year
  • Hoy = Today
  • Mañana = Tomorrow
  • Ayer = Yesterday
  • Por favor = Please
  • Lo Siento = Sorry
  • Universidad = University
  • Hora = Hour
  • Minuto = Minute
  • Bueno = Good
  • Café = Coffee
  • Té = Tea
  • Agua = Water
  • Profesora = Teacher/Professor 
  • El Libro = The Book
  • La Playa = The Beach
  • El Museo = The Museum
  • Tren = Train
  • Gracias = Thank you
  • De Nada = You’re welcome

Spanish Phrases to Know as an International Student

Besides learning individual words, which is essential to understanding the whole language, specific Spanish phrases are usually used quite frequently in day-to-day life. Find some of these phrases listed below. 

Buenos días = Good morning

You will find yourself needing this one quite a lot, especially if you have morning classes and are usually up and running in the morning. Not quite as necessary if you are an afternoon kind of person, though. 

Buenas tardes = Good afternoon

Here comes the afternoon, and your way of greeting people. Of course, you could always say “Hola” (Hello) if you please, but the “buenas tardes” is quite a necessity on more formal occasions, or when greeting teachers or strangers (at grocery stores, book stores, libraries, etc.)

Buenas noches = Good night

“Buenas noches” can be used, both, as “good evening” as well as “good night” in Spanish. It is usually implied depending on the circumstances and the context. Provided it is the appropriate time, typically after 7 pm, you can either greet people with “buenas noches” or bid them farewell.

Hasta luego = Until later

“Hasta luego” can either be formal or informal. It depends on how you want to use it and if you wish to use it. It can be a substitute for “Adiós” (Goodbye). It basically means “until later” or “see you later”.

¿Cómo te llamas? = What is your name?

The importance of this phrase is self-explanatory. If you want to make friendships and socialise, this is an essential phrase in Spanish to include in your vocabulary. You will find yourself making friends in no time! 

If you ask someone this question, you should expect an answer that looks something like this: “Me llamo Isabella”, which means “My name is Isabella”.

¿Cómo estás? = How are you?

Whether it is your friends, neighbours, or complete strangers at university, parties, neighbourhood, or the store, you may ask them how they are when you start conversing. They will likely appreciate your concern. 

Bien, gracias = Fine, thank you

If you are getting asked how you are, you might reply with “bien, gracias”. Of course, if the circumstances allow it and you are, in fact, fine. Let’s just hope you will not have to answer any other way.

¿Y usted? = And you?

When someone asks “¿cómo estás?”, and you reply saying “bien, gracias”, you can proceed to ask them the same question, which is “¿Y usted?”, meaning “and you?”. It is polite, so, why not ask in return (especially, if you are genuinely curious).

Mucho gusto = Nice to meet you

Whenever you feel like you liked meeting someone, you can reply with “mucho gusto”, which is translated as “nice to meet you”. It is polite, friendly, and typically a habitual saying; but you would surely want someone to say it to you, right?

¿De dónde eres? = Where are you from?

As an international student in Spain, you will likely receive this question greatly. You can reply with “Soy de…” which means “I am from/of…” and the country you come from. For example, “soy de los Estados Unidos”, meaning “I am from the US”.

No pasa nada = Don’t worry about it

This phrase is used often by people in Spain and is relevant on numerous occasions. For example, let’s say you accidentally spill the water on the table, the waiter will likely reply with “no pasa nada” and bring you another glass and napkins. 

Yo no comprendo – I do not understand 

Most of us have been in situations where we could not speak the language fluently or have not understood things clearly (whatever they may be). “Yo no comprendo” is the phrase you can use whenever you do not understand something (at university, social gatherings, or elsewhere).

Vale = Okay 

Although this is a word and not a phrase per se, you will hear “vale” quite a lot in Spain (and it is pronounced with a ‘b’ instead of ‘v’, so you may even see it written as “bale”). Basically, people in Spain use “vale” as “okay”, and you can use it to affirm that you understand something.

Siesta =  Nap

“Siesta” is also another word that needs further explanation. “Siesta” is what people in Spain like to call their afternoon nap. It usually occurs during 2:00-4:00 pm, where people who run family businesses or stores close the store and go home to take a quick nap or simply rest.

¿Cómo se dice … en español? = How do you say … in Spanish?

If you plan on expanding your Spanish vocabulary, you may find this phrase useful. If you want to ask someone “How do you say ‘apple’ in Spanish?” you can use “¿Cómo se dice ‘apple’ en español?”, or simply point towards an apple, if there is one at hand.

Other Important Spanish Phrases 

  • ¿Cuáles son tus pasatiempos? = What are your hobbies?
  • Me gusta / No me gusta… = I like / I don’t like… 
  • ¿Que música te gusta? = What music do you like?
  • ¿En qué trabajas? = What’s your job?
  • ¿Dónde está el baño? = Where’s the bathroom?
  • ¿Qué hora es? = What time is it?
  • ¿Cuánto cuesta? = How much is this?
  • ¿Me puede ayudar con esto? = Can you help me with this?
  • ¡Feliz cumpleaños! = Happy birthday!
  • ¡Buena suerte! = Good luck!
  • Que te mejores = Get well soon
  • Felicitaciones = Congratulations
  • Dios mio = Oh my god
  • Por supuesto = Of course
  • No lo sé = I don’t know
  • Nos vemos mañana = See you tomorrow

Bonus: Facts About the Spanish Language

  • Spanish is the official language of over 20 countries, including Argentina, Chile, Cuba, and Nicaragua. 
  • Spanish is not the only language spoken in Spain (other languages include Galician, Basque, and Catalan).
  • Spanish is a Romance language.
  • After Latin, Arabic has also influenced the Spanish language. 
  • Spanish uses inverted question and exclamation marks to highlight the question. 
  • Spanish is also known as Castilian (Castellano) meaning that it comes from Castilla, Spain.
  • Two phrases in Spanish mean “I love you” including “Te amo” and “Te quiero”. The former is used in a more romantic way or among close family members, while the latter is used in a friendly way.