Basic Spanish Phrases to Travel in Latin America

Unlike the US, we do not have Spanish or a foreign language course at our school in India, especially in the small town that I studied in. I grew up studying Hindi, English, and Sanskrit. I took a foreign language course in French during college, but a few classes and a French certificate was the farthest my foreign language aptitude extended to. 

 When I landed in Chile, I couldn’t speak any Spanish. I started living with a Chilean host mother who woke up with the motivation of teaching me Spanish so that we could communicate and thus began my struggle with the language that soon turned into eternal love. 

Without trying to be melodramatic, I promise that if you learn Spanish while traveling in Latin America, you would also fall in love with this language; for Spanish is a passionate dialect and have phrases and words for almost every emotion. Some of the feelings that can be described eloquently in Spanish are strangled by the lack of words in the other languages that I know.

Neither did I study Spanish before traveling to South America nor did I take a copy of handy phrases. Maybe that would have been a good idea because learning Spanish wasn’t easy. Remembering the words and processing them on the go while listening to the fast Latin-American speakers drained my energy and left me good for nothing almost every day. Most of the times, I couldn’t understand what they were saying even though I knew the word. 

That is when I started referring to a book, wrote down the words that I learned each day, scribbled the pronunciation of the Spanish word in Hindi so that I could easily remember how it was spoken, asked tonnes of questions, and spoke relentlessly. My obsession with the language paid results, and within a few weeks, I spoke fluent Spanish and even started cracking jokes in it.

Also Read: The Culture of Chile – 13 Chilean Conventions You Should Know Before You Visit Chile

 

One day after returning from the continent, back in India, I started writing down the phrases that I used the most and were essential to survive in South America. I have listed those phrases, along with some other, and their English and Hindi pronunciations in this document. For without the pronunciation, you could be saying the word so incorrectly that no one would understand you (speaking from experience). In between, I have given you insider tips that I gathered from my nine-months-long solo trip and are a treasure, at least for me.

The aim of this article is to provide you with a list at which you can rely upon and refer to it while you are traveling in Latin America. As you go along on your trip, you would even start remembering the phrases.

The phrases, the pronunciations, and the words that I have mentioned here are from my experience of traveling in South America and learning from its people. The Latin-American Spanish is different from Castilian or Spain’s Spanish in pronunciations, vocabulary, and other nuances that I haven’t covered here for I don’t have much experience with the European version of the language. But my friends from Spain and Latin America told me that though the differences are visible, both can understand each other well.

Spanish and English share a lot of cognates or words that have the same root but are pronounced and spelled differently in the two languages. For example, directions is dirrecciones, perfect is perfecto, impatient is impaciente, invitation is invitación, much is mucho, and so on. These cognates, which you will come across frequently in my list, would make your life easy, and sometimes, you can even take a guess at the Spanish version of an English word and try your luck. My students who couldn’t say how are you in English tried to impress me by putting a “tion” at the end of every Spanish word when I asked for its English version. Thus skirt (falda) became faldation; school (escuela)became escuelation, and please don’t ask me for more. 

Please don’t do the same, and instead, follow this guide to start speaking Spanish as soon as you land in South America.

Here is my basic Spanish phrases printable guide. It is the same list of essential Spanish phrases, but I have put it together in a pdf so that you can download the pdf or carry it along.  If you are not able to say something, you can show the Spanish version of the phrase to a local, and he or she would understand you. But I promise that you would soon start grasping the language once you practice these key phrases.

Also Read:  Learning Spanish in South America

 

To make the guide an easy read, I have divided the basic Spanish phrases into the following categories(click on any of the categories to jump straight to the required list):

  1. Common Spanish Greetings
  2. How to tell people that you don’t know Spanish (apart from shaking your head).
  3. Introduction/Introducing yourself.
  4. Common Questions in Spanish
  5. Food and Drinks. Basic Spanish phrases to use at a restaurant
  6. Miscellaneous But Absolutely Essential Spanish Phrases.
  7. Directions and Addresses. Making your way and getting around.
  8. Numbers.
  9. Days of the week.
  10. Money or La Plata(for Chile).
  11. Emergency/Ask for help.

Disclaimer: If you are reading this article on your mobile and the tables aren’t displaying well, please switch to the landscape mode. Unfortunately, the tables aren’t integrated well with the mobile themes of WordPress, yet(in my experience).

 

Basic Spanish Greetings

English Latin-American Spanish Phrases for Travelers Pronunciation Hindi Phonetics
Hello Hola O-la ला
Good Morning Buenos días bwe-nos-dee-yas ब्वेनोसदीयास
Good afternoon buenas tardes bwe-nas tarr-des बुएनासतार्रदेस
Goodnight Buenas noches bwe-nas-no-ches ब्वेनासनोचेस
Thank you Gracias grah-sias ग्रासियास
Thank you very much. If someone has just given you directions when you were wondering why you went to South America, say, “muchas gracias.” moo-chaas grah-sias मूचासग्रासियास
You are welcome. De nada. day-na-da देनादा
Goodbye Adiós aa-dee-os आदीयोस
 See you! Nos vemos

nos-ve-mos

नोसवेमोस
That all goes well with you. You can say this when someone takes your leave. (You would win hearts with this one.) Que te vaya bien k-te-vayya-bien केतेवाइयाबियन
I love this phrase. It means to enjoy or get the full out of whatever you plan to do or wherever you are going. English or Hindi doesn’t have a phrase for a similar intention, but Latinos use it often. The phrase syncs in with their lively life and leave the worries behind attitude. Que Disfrutes k-dis-fru-tes केदिसफ़्रुतेस

Though this is almost a complete Spanish greetings list, some of the phrases would change as per the South-American country you are in.

Tip 1:

In Spanish, the h at the beginning of the word is silent.

Tip 2:

 The letter t is spoken very softly in Spanish, and its sound is similar to the sound of the letter () of Hindi. English doesn’t have a similar sound, and English speakers can speak it as softly as they can to sound closer to Latinos.

 

How to tell people that you don’t know Spanish (apart from shaking your head)

 

English Latin-American Spanish Phrases for Travelers Pronunciation Hindi Phonetics
I don’t understand! No entiendo. no en-tee-enn-do नो एनतियेंदो
I speak little Spanish. Little, little. (Almost everyone would say this about your Spanish.) Hablo un poco de español or just say, poco-poco. aab-lo oon po-ko de ehs-pah-nyol आबलोउनपोकोदेएसपानयोल
Please, speak a little slower. (Most of the Latin Americans speak fast.) Por favor, hable más lente por-fah-bor, aab-le maas len-te पोरफाबोर, आबले मास लेनते
Can you say that again? Puede repetir. pue-de-repe-teer पुएदे रेपेतीर
You speak Spanish? When someone asks you this, answer poco-poco. Hablas español? aab-las ehs-pah-nyol? आबलास एसपानयोल?
Do you speak English? (informal) Hablas inglés? aab-las een-glehz? आबलास ईंगलेज

And of course, if nothing works, act clueless, which you are. 

Tip  3:

For Spanish, most of the things are either male or female. The male version of a word is changed into the female version by adding an “a” to the end of the noun, the pronoun, and the adjective, mostly. So vegetariano becomes vegetariana, soup or sopa is female(in Latin America) hence the a at the end, et cetera. Even if you guess the gender wrong or speak incorrectly, you wouldn’t make a blunder as you are still learning Spanish or have just started speaking it. 

Tip 4:

Even the articles change as per the gender and the singularity of the noun. So while “el” is for the male versions, “la” is for females. As a learner of the language or as a tourist who is just able to speak a few sentences, it is perfectly alright to miss the articles.

Introduction/Introducing yourself

English Latin American Spanish Phrases for Travelers Pronunciation Hindi Phonetics
How are you? cómo estás? ko-mo es-taas कोमो एसतास
I am very good, thank you. Muy bien, gracias moo-ee bee-an, grah-sias मुईबियन, ग्रासियास
I am good. And you? Estoy bien, y tú? es-toy bee-an, eee tu? एसतोइ बियन, तू?
What is your name? (informal) Cómo te llamas? ko-mo te ya-mas? कोमोतेजामास
What is your name? (formal) Cómo se llama usted? or Cómo se llama would also work. ko-mo say yaa-mas  oos-tehd? कोमोसे  जामास ऊसतेद?
My name is ______: or say

I am ______:

Mi nombre es ______ or Yo soy ______ mi nom-bray es __ or yo-soy मिनोमब्रे एस __ or जो सोई
It’s a pleasure to meet you Mucho gusto. moo-cho goos-to मूचोगूसतो
Where are you from? De donde eres? dey-don-de-er-es देदोन्दे एरएस?
I come from __ (Yo) soy de __ soy-dey __ सोई दे __
Nationality. Nacionalidad naa-seeyo-naa-li-daad नासीयोनालिदाद
How old are you? Qué edad tienes? Or cuántos años tienes? kay ay-daad tee-yen-es? Or kwan-tos aan-yos tee-yen-es? केएदाद तियेनएस? Or क्वांतोस आनयोस तियेनएस?
I am __ years old. Yo tengo __ años  yo ten-go __ aan-yos जो तेनगो __ आनयोस।
Do you have brothers or sisters? Tienes hermanos o hermanas?  tee-yen-es er-maa-nos o er-maa-nas? तियेनएस अरमानोस अरमानास?
Where do you live? ( In case someone asks you or you want to ask someone) Dónde vives? OR Donde te quedas? don-dey vee-ves? Or don-dey te kay-daas? दोनदे वीवेस? Or दोनदे ते केदास?
What is your address? In case you want to visit someone later or if you call the hotel for directions. Cual es su direcciones? or just say su direcciones. ku-aal es soo di-rek-sio-nes? कुआल एस सु दिरेकसीयोनेस?
I Live in ___ En ___ en __ एन __

Tip 5:

Don’t get confused between soy and estoy — soy is the more permanent form of I am, such as soy un hombre(I am a man), soy vegetariano(I am vegetarian), soy de la India( I am from India). Estoy is a more temporary form of I and signifies your current mood or action. Such as Estoy enfermo(I am sick), Estoy cansado(I am tired).

Tip 6:

You can ignore the I or “Yo” while speaking. In Spanish, every verb changes as per the person and gender and singularity. So the noun is redundant in informal conversations, and most of the people I talked to in South America didn’t say “Yo.”

Tip 7:

You can refer to the other person with a “” or an “usted.”  Tú is for people of your age or for informal conversations amongst friends and people you meet. But if you want to show respect, use usted. Of course, as you are new no-one would mind if you refer them with  all the time. But if you are at a more advanced level, you should use both the forms. For this article, I use tú whenever the second person comes into the picture. 

Basic Spanish Questions.

English Simple Spanish questions How to pronounce Spanish words? Hindi Phonetics
Who? Quién kee-yen? कीएन?
What? Qué? kay? के?
Where is __? Dónde está __?  don-de es-ta? दोनदे एसता?
When? Cuándo? koo-aan-do? क्वानदो?
When/what time? A qué hora? a kay oraa? केओरा?
Why? Por qué?  por kay? पोरके?
How? Cómo?  ko-mo? कोमो?
How much? Cuánto?  koo-aan-to? कुआंतो?
How much does it cost? Cuánto cuesta __? koo-aan-to kwes-taa? कुआंतो कवेस्ता?
How many? Cuántos? koo-aan-tos? कुआंतोस?
How often? Cada cuánto? kaa-daa—koo-aan-to? कादा कुआंतो?
How long? Por cuánto tiempo? Por koo-aan-to tee-yem-po? पोर कुआंतो तीयेमपो?

What is this?

Qué es esto?

kay es es-toh?

के एस एसतो?

 

Tip 8:

I don’t like – no me gusta. South Americans are expressive, and you would notice them talking about their likes and dislikes often. While traveling in Latin America, even you would feel like speaking about your choices frequently. Then you can use this phrase in abundance. And if Latinos say that they don’t like something, respect that. For if you say that you don’t want or adore a particular thing or food, they would remember it. 

 

Food and Drinks. Basic Spanish phrases to use at a restaurant.

Tip 9:

As I said above, Spanish verbs changes with the person, gender, and plurality of the noun. If the correct verb form is written in the sentence, you can understand how many people( or more), which person(1st,2nd, or 3rd), and which gender is doing the action. Except when the noun is made up of a mixed group in which case the male verb form is applicable.

Tip 10:

The verb for I want is “querer.”  So you can say, “Yo quiero(verb form for I) un te.” I want one tea. You will need to say quiero many times, so please remember it.  

 

English Latin-American Spanish Phrases for Travelers Pronunciation Hindi Phonetics
One table for 2 please. una mesa para dos, por favor. oona-me-ja paara dos, por faa-bor ऊना मेज़ा पारा दोस्, पोरफाबोर
Do you have a menu? Tiene un menú / carta? tee-yen-ay oon menu/caar-ta? तियेन उन मेनू/कारता?
To share Para compartir pa-ra com-paar-tir पारा कोमपारतीर
Food Comida ko-mee-dah कोमीदा
A drink, please. una bebida, por favor oo-na beh-bee-da ऊना बेबीदा
A beer or two beer, please. Una cerveza/dos cervezas, por favor.  oo-na sir-ve-ja/dos sir-ve-jaas, por faa-bor ऊना सर्वेज़ा, दोस् सर्वेज़ास, पोर फाबोर
A glass of red or white wine un vino tinto/blanco. oon vee-no tin-toh / blan-koh उन वीनो तिनतो/ब्लानको
Water agua aa-gwaah गुआह
coffee/tea un café/una te oon ka-fay/oona tay उन काफ़े/ऊना ते
Coffee with milk, please Café con leche por favor ka-fay con lay-lay-chay por-faa-bor काफ़े क़ोन लेचे, पोर फाबोर
Do you have something vegetarian to eat? Or do you have something without meat? Tienes comida vegetariana? o tienes algo sin carne? tee-yen-es ko-mee-da ve-he-ta-ree-ya-na? Or tee-yen-es aal-go syn car-nay तियेनएस कोमिदा वेहेतारीयाना? or आलगो सिन कारने?
I am vegetarian. (Yo) soy Vegetariano. soy ve-he-ta-ree-aa-no सो वेहेतारियानो
I have an allergy to nuts Tengo alergia a las nueces Ten-go al-er-khee-ah a las noo-eh-ses तेंगो ऐलएरखीआह लोस नुएसेस 
breakfast Desayuno des-aa-you-no देसायूनो
Lunch Almuerzo al-moor-zo अलमुअरजो
Dinner la cena la say-na ला सेना
Supper or a light and earlier version of dinner which might completely replace dinner. Once on-say ओनसे
soup  una sopa oo-na so-paa ना सोपा
salad  una ensalada oo-na en-sa-la-da ऊना एनसेलादा
an appetizer una entrada  oo-na en-tra-da ऊना एँत्रादा
a main dish un plato principal  oon pla-to prin-see-pal उन प्लातोप्रिंसीपाल
a dessert un postre oon pos-tray उन पोस्त्रे
The meat (beef) – If nothing else is mentioned, carne is beef in South America. la carne or Carne de vaca la car-nay Or car-nay de vaa-caa ला कारने Or कारनेदेवाका
chicken el pollo el poy-oh एल पोय्यो
Fish el-pescado el pes-kaado एल पेसकादो
Eggs Huevos huay-voz हुएवोज़
Cheese Queso kay-so कैसों
Bread El pan el paan एलपान
Rice Arroz are-roz आररोज़
Enjoy (bon Appetite) Buen Provecho boo-en pro-vay-cho बुएन प्रोवेचो
It was really tasty. Estuvo muy rico. es-tu-vo moo-yee ree-ko एसतूवो मूयी रीको
Where is the bathroom? Dónde está el baño? don-day es-tah el baan-yo दोनदे एसताह एल बाणयो
The bill, please La cuenta, por favor. la coen-tah por-faabor ला कुएँता, पोर फाबोर

 

Tip 11:

South Americans roll the tongue while speaking r. But that is not true always. Let us skip the rolling r rule for this document. Maybe I will cover it later in another advanced set of rules. 

Tip 12:

Latinos pronounce the v as b sometimes. And if you live there enough, you would also start saying it the same way. 

Tip 13:

Saying the full sentence or the entire question/phrase would be confusing in the beginning. You can just say the main nouns and people would understand. For example, instead of saying can you take a photo, say one photo, please.

Tip 14:

In Spanish, j is pronounced as h. So tarjeta this would be tar-heta. This might help you at metro and bus stations.

Tip 15:

“Puedo” means can. Use generously. I can becomes “Yo puedo” or simply “puedo.” Remember that you can delete the “yo.” 

Tip 16: 

In Spanish, you don’t say I am these many years old or I am sick. You say I have these many years or I have sickness. So you use the verb tener (to have) to show the possession. The I form of the verb is Tengo. Remember this one. 

 

Miscellaneous But Absolutely Essential Spanish Phrases.

English Latin-American Spanish Phrases for Travelers Pronunciation Hindi Phonetics
Yes see सी
No No no नो
Please Por favor por-fah-bor पोरफाबोर
Excuse me (getting attention) Disculpe dees-cool-peh दिजकुलपे
Excuse me (begging pardon) Perdón perr-don पेर्रदोन
I’m sorry Lo siento/perdón lo see-yen-toh/perr-don लोसीयेंतो/पेर्रदोन
Toilet/Bathrooms: Servicios/Baños baan-nyos बाणन्योस
Men Hombres / Caballeros om-brays/ka-bah-yeh-roz ओमब्रेसक़ाबाजेरोस
women Mujeres moo-heh-rehs मुहेरेस
How to say something in Spanish? You can hold a cheese slice in your hand and say this phrase and they would tell you what is the Spanish word. Como se dice eso ______ en español? ko-mo say-dee-say en ehs-paa-nyol? कोमो से दिसे एन एसपानयोल?
Me too or also/ the same también / lo mismo taam-bee-yen/lo meez-mo तामबीएन/ लो मीसमो
neither tampoco taam-poko तामपोको
Much. Mucho moo-choh मूचो
This is way of saying excuse me. Even after weeks of returning back to India, I kept saying permiso. You can say this while leaving a dinner table to get water, or while leaving altogether, you can say this if you want to move and the people are not getting out of your way, you can say this if you want to keep a glass near the sink but someone is hell bent on washing all the utensils. Permiso per-mee-so परमिसो
Always Siempre see-ehm-prey सीएम्प्रे
Never Nunca noon-kah नुनका
Do you understand? Entiende? en-tee-en-day एनतीयेनदे?
Card. Tarjeta tar-he-tah तारहेता
Can I pay? Puedo pagar? pweh-doh pa-gaar पुएदो पगार?
Email. Correo electrónico koreo elek-tro-neeco कोरियो इलेकत्रोनीको
I am hungry. Tengo Hambre ten-go aam-brey तेनगो आमब्रे
Travel. Viajar. vee-yaa-khar व्याखार
Do you have a room? Tiene un espacio o pieza ? tee-yen-ey oon es-pa-see-yo o pee-yeh-sa? तीयेन उन एसपासीयो पीयेसा?
I  have a reservation. Tengo una reservación. ten-go oo-na ree-sir-vaa-see-yon तेंगो ऊना रीज़रवासीयोन
Is breakfast included? El desayuno esta incluído? el deh-sah-yu-no es-tah in-clu-ee-do? एल देसायूनो एस्ता इनक्लुईदो?
Do you need my passport? Necesita(s) mi pasaporte? neh-seh-seeta mea paa-sa-por-teh? नेसेसीता मी पासापोरते?
Do you accept photocopies? Aceptan fotocopias? acep-tan foto-copy-aas? एक्सेप्तान फोतोकोपीयास?
One photo. If you want someone to click your photo. Un foto, por favor. oon fo-to, por faabor उन फोतो, पोर फाबोर
No idea Ni idea Nee ee-day-yah नी इदेयाह
What does __ mean? Qué significa __? kay sig-nif-ee -ka? के सिग्निफ़िका?
Help me, please. Ayuda me, por favor. ayu-dah, por faa-bor आज़ुदा में, पोर फाबोर
wifi? wifi? vee-fee विफ़ि
What is the password? ¿Cual es la contraseña? kwal es la con-tra-sen-ya? क्वाल एस ला कोंत्रासेनया?
Do you know (any question)? Sabe (the question)? saa-beh ___? साबे __?
tomorrow. Mañana mann-yaa-naa मनयाना
Yesterday Ayer ayee-yir अय्यर
Will wait for you Te espero tay es-pero ते एस्पेरो
to sign. Firmar fir-maar फिरमार
Where can I buy? Donde puedo comprar? don-day pueh-push-doh com-pra-aar दोन्दे पुएदो कोमपरार?
Where is the cash machine? ¿Dónde está el cajero automático? don-day es-tah el caa-khe-roh auto-maa-tico? दोन्दे एस्ता एल काखेरो औतोमातिको?
Is it possible __? Es posible __? es poh-seeb-leh? एस पोसीबले
Both Ambos or say los dos. aam-bos, los dos आमबोस, लोस दोस्
but Pero peh-roh पेर्रो
Before. Antes aan-tes आनतेस
That’s very expensive Es muy caro es moo-yee caar -roh एस मूयी कार्रो
We paid Pagemos. paa-gay-mos पागेमोस
The guide- If you are on a trek, this might be handy. La guía la-gee-yaah लागीया
Passport Pasaporte. paa-sa-por-teh पासापोरते
Information Información in-for-maa-see-yon इनफ़ोरमासीयोन
Immediately. In case you are about to miss your bus because the waitress decided to flirt with the waiter and isn’t giving you the bill. Al tiro. al-teeh-roh अलतीरो
This is a slang phrase. It means sure, okay, yeah. It could mean a lot of things and people keep saying claro in between a conversation. It is more like sure. Claro klah-roh क्लारो
Do you need something else? You might be asked this at a departmental store or in a restaurant. Quieres algún mas? kyeh-reh al-goon maas? कियेरेन आलगुन मास?
Equally. This is a useful phrase. South Americans are very generous in their greetings and they say a lot to you while you leave. Take care, nice to meet you, sweet dreams, I enjoyed the food, et cetera. And if you are still a novice at Spanish, which I am guessing you are as you are reading this article, say igualmente and save yourself and simple big. They would understand that you took an effort to learn an easy word, and make conversation. Igualmente igg-yual-men-teh इगुआलमेंते

Tip 17:

The d in Spanish is pronounced very softly. Again, English doesn’t have a similar sound, but Hindi does(द). So to be closer to sound like the South-Americans, speak the d as softly as you can. 

Tip 18:

The ll is neither pronounced as l nor as y in Spanish(unlike a widespread belief amongst travelers). Hindi captures the sound of the ll in a single alphabet, but English doesn’t have a similar sound. That is why in the English phonetics I have written y in place of ll, for that is the closest I could come to replicating the ll sound with an English alphabet.  

 

Directions and Addresses. Making your way and getting around.

English Latin-American Spanish Phrases for Travelers Pronunciation Hindi Phonetics
Left Izquierda eez-kyeer-dah इजकीयरदा
Right Derecha day-reh-chah देरेचा
Straight ahead Derecho de-re-cho देरेचो
Bus station Estación de bus es-tah-see-on deh boos एसतासीयोंन दे बुस
Train station Estación de tren es-tah-see-on deh tren एसतासीयोंन दे त्रेन
Airport Aeropuerto airo-pwer-toh ऐरोपुअरतो
Entrance Entrada en-trah-dah एनत्रादा
Exit Salida sah-lee-dah सालीदा
here Aqui Ah-kee अकी
there Allí ay-ee अयी
at the corner En la esquina en la es-kee-nah एन ला एसकीना
in one, two, three blocks En una, dos, tres cuadra en oo-naa, dos, tres kwah-dra एन ऊना,दोस्,त्रेस कुआदरा
Where is ___ street? la calle ___?  la ka-yeh ला काय्ये 
Where can I get a taxi? Or a bus or micro? The small, local buses are called micros in some countries. Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi? o un bus o micro? don-day pueh-doh en-kon-trar un taxi?o un boos o meec-ro? दोन्दे पुएदो एंकोंत्रार उन तेकसी? उन बुस मीकरो?
Please take me here Por favor, lléveme a esta direcccion por faa-bor, yeh-ve-meh a es-tah direk-see-yon पोर फाबोर, जेवेमे एस्ता दिरेकसीयोन?
Do I have to change buses / planes? Tengo que cambiar el  bús/avión? ten-go kay kaam-bee-yar el boos o aa-vee-yon? तेंगो के कामबीयार एल बुस वीयोन?
How much does a ticket to __ cost? Cuánto cuesta un boleto para __ ? koo-aan-to kwes-ta oon bo-le-to pa-ra __? कुआंतो कवेस्ता उन बोलेते पारा __?
nearest mas cercano maas sir-kaano मास सरकानो

Tip 19:

Remember the phrase or question “Dónde esta” when it comes to moving around. It means where is, and you would need it often. 

 

Numbers.

English Latin-American Spanish Phrases for Travelers Pronunciation Hindi Phonetics
1 Unos oo-nos उनोस
2 Dos dos दोस्
3 tres treh-es त्रेस
4 Cuatro kuat-ro कुआत्रो
5 Cinco syn-ko सिंको
6 Seis se-eis सैस
7 Siete see-yeh-teh सीयेते
8 Ocho oh-choh ओचो
9 Nueve noo-yeh-veh नुएवेह
10 Diez dee-yez दीएज
20 Veinte veh-en-tay वेन्ते
30 treinta tre-en-tah त्रेणता
40 Cuarenta kuah-ran-taah क़ुआरेनता
50 Cincuenta syn-koo-en-taah सिनकुएनता
60 Sesenta seh-sen-taah सेसेनता
70 Setenta seh-ten-taah सेतेनता
80 Ochenta o-chan-taah चेनता
90 Noventa no-ven-taah नोवेनता
100 Cien see-yen सियेन
1000 Mil meel मील

Days of the week.

English Latin-American Spanish Phrases for Travelers Pronunciation Hindi Phonetics
Monday Lunes loo-ness लूनेस
Tuesday Martes mar-tehs मारतेस
Wednesday Miércoles mee-err-ko-less मिअरकोलेस
Thursday Jueves hue-ves हुएवेस
Friday Viernes bee-err-ness बीयरनेस
Saturday Sábado sah-bah-do साबादो
Sunday Domingo doh-min-goh दोमिनगो

 

Tip 20:

In Spanish, day is día (dee-ya), months is meses (meh-ses), weeks is semanas (seh-maa-nas), and year is año (aan-yo).

 

Money or La Plata(for Chile, as currency changes as per the country when you travel in Latin America).

English Latin-American Spanish Phrases for Travelers Pronunciation Hindi Phonetics
A thousand Chilean pesos. Un mil o mil peso oon-mil o mil pee-soh उन मिल मिल पीसो
two thousand dos mil dos mil दोस् मिल
And so on and so forth.

Tip 21:

As I said above, Spanish and English share a lot of cognates or words with the same roots. And to translate some English words into Spanish, you can attempt a hit and trial method. You will get the intuition of what sample example to use as you speak more. For example, perfect becomes perfecto in Spanish, and some other words would have to be changed in the same way (as perfect) to become their Spanish versions. Direction becomes dirección, and many other words can be suffixed with a cción to get their Spanish versions. 

Emergency/Ask for help.

English Latin-American Spanish Phrases for Travelers Pronunciation Hindi Phonetics
Help, please Ayuda, por favor. aa-yuh-dah, por faabor आयुदा, पोरफाबोर
I have a problem Tengo una Problema. ten-go oon-prob-leh-mah तेंगो उना प्रोबलेमा
I need a doctor Necesito un doctor neh-seh-see-toh uhn dok-tohr नेसेसितो उन दोकतोर
I don’t feel well No me siento bien / Me siento mal no meh see-yen-toh bee-y en नो मैं सिएँतो बियेन
Call the police Llama a la paolicia jah-mah ah lah poh-lee-see-ah जामा ला पोलिसीया
Fire Fuego phweh-goh फुएगो
I am lost Estoy perdido es-toy per-dee-doh एसतोय परदीदो

 

Tip 22:

Do you want to surprise Chileans? When they speak to you, say cachai (keh-chaa-ee or क-चा-ई) in between conversation. Cachai means you see, you see what I am saying, or do you get it. I can tell you that they would not only be surprised but might just fall in love with you. Such phrases or slang exists in all Latin-American countries, and you would be surprised by the frequency with which Latinos use the slang.

 

If you are traveling in South America for longer and want to learn the language, here is my guide to learning a foreign language which is based on my experience of learning Spanish.

 

basic spanish phrases

Have I made a mistake in the spellings or pronunciations? Please let me know. Do you have some other basic Spanish phrases to add, do leave them in a comment. Hope this helped.

Like my guide! Pin it!

pinterest image for the basic spanish phrases that you need to know while traveling in south america

 

Download the pdf version of these basic Spanish phrases, and have fun.

6 Comments

  1. Suman Bhunia September 19, 2019 at 11:30 am

    Priyanka, you summarize it very well. I think not knowing the language before landing on the country gave you an edge in writing such an awesome article. Thanks for documenting for new travellers.

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta September 19, 2019 at 5:12 pm

      You are most welcome, Suman. I don’t know what helped but I think my learning process was so honest and intense that I had a lot to say which I methodically put in here. Hope this is helpful.

      Reply
  2. advanced topology metrix July 16, 2019 at 5:15 am

    Excellent blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go
    for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally overwhelmed ..
    Any ideas? Thanks a lot!

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta July 19, 2019 at 12:03 pm

      Thank you so much, Cecilia. I have an entire blog post on tips for aspiring writers – https://www.onmycanvas.com/writing-tips-novice-writers/. Hope this one helps. Start with a free option like WordPress. I use the same. You can choose a free theme for now, and then when you grow you can opt for a paid theme which suits your need better. Take step by step, that is the best way to go with blogging, or rather with anything in life. Thank you so much for your comment. Let me know if you have more questions.

      Reply
  3. Jac January 12, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    I only learned Spanish as well when I got to South America, this is a pretty useful round up of phrases for basic communication! Me gusta!

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta January 12, 2019 at 2:10 pm

      Thank you so much for reading and for the compliment, Jac.

      Reply

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