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Most Common Spanish Phrases For Travelers [Survive South America]

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

 When I landed in Chile to teach English, I couldn’t even speak a few simple Spanish words coherently. I started living with a Chilean host mother who took upon herself to teach me the common Spanish phrases and words so we could communicate. Thus began my struggle of learning to speak Spanish in Chile.

I didn’t know then that the Spanish language would become one of my favorites, and also my third language.

Without trying to be melodramatic, I promise that if you start speaking even the most basic Spanish travel phrases when you are backpacking in South America, you would fall in love with this language; for Spanish is a passionate dialect. Spanish words and phrases cover almost every emotion; some of the feelings that can be described eloquently in Spanish are strangled by the lack of words in other languages I speak.

Was Learning Spanish Easy?

Neither did I practice Spanish before traveling to South America nor did I remember to carry a copy of travel Spanish phrases for emergencies.

Learning Spanish in South America was challenging. Trying to comprehend the fast Chilean Spanish, remembering the common Spanish words, and recalling them to frame even the most basic Spanish sentences drained my energy and left me good for nothing almost every day.

That was when I started referring to a Spanish workbook, wrote down the key Spanish phrases for beginners that I came across daily, scribbled the Spanish pronunciation in Hindi and English phonetics, asked a lot of questions, and spoke Spanish relentlessly. My efforts to learn Spanish bore results. Within a few weeks, I started speaking Spanish fluently and even cracked jokes in it.

learning the most common spanish phrases for travelers from a Spanish workbook in Chile
Spanish Learning book that I used to learn not only the common Spanish phrases but also Spanish grammar and pronunciations.

What is the aim behind this Common Spanish phrases for travelers guide?

When I returned to India after a nine-months-long South America solo trip, I started writing down the useful Spanish phrases that helped me survive in the continent. I had to help other travelers roaming around South America for I know how hard it gets if you can’t understand or speak at least some Spanish.

In this basic Spanish phrases guide, I have listed the everyday Spanish conversation phrases and the most important Spanish travel phrases you would need to make your way in the South-American countries. I have also provided the Spanish phrases in English, and with each phrase, I have written how to speak Spanish words (the ones involved) in English and Hindi phonetically. Otherwise, your pronunciation could be so wrong no one would understand you (speaking from experience).

I have also strewn around some insider tips throughout this list. I had to share my secrets (ahem treasure) from speaking Spanish for nine months, right?

The aim of this article is to provide you with a list of basic Spanish words and essential Spanish phrases at which you can rely on and refer to quickly on your trip. As you continue on your journey, you would even start remembering the phrases.

Would these basic Spanish phrases also work in Spain?

The Latin-American Spanish is different from Castilian or Spain’s Spanish in pronunciation, vocabulary, and other nuances that I haven’t covered here as 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, people from both areas can understand each other well. 

So feel free to carry this list to Spain as well.

What are Cognates?

Before you read this article you need to understand cognates.

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 in Spanish, perfect is perfecto, impatient is impaciente, invitation is invitación, much is mucho, and so on.

These cognates, which you will come across frequently in the simple Spanish phrases listed here, would help you translate the Spanish words to English and vice-versa on your own.

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 them to translate the Spanish phrases to English. 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.

But I know that you would never have to do that and you would start speaking at least the most used Spanish words by yourself.

Table of Content

To make the guide an easy read, I have divided the most important Spanish phrases for traveling 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.

Basic Spanish Greetings

EnglishSpanish Phrases for greetingsHow to pronounce Spanish words in English phoneticallyHow to pronounce Spanish words in Hindi phonetically
HelloHola O-la ला
Good MorningBuenos díasbwe-nos-dee-yasब्वेनोसदीयास
Good afternoon buenas tardesbwe-nas tarr-desबुएनासतार्रदेस
Goodnight Buenas nochesbwe-nas-no-chesब्वेनासनोचेस
Thank youGraciasgrah-siasग्रासियास
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-siasमूचासग्रासियास
You are welcome.De nada. day-na-daदेनादा
 See you!Nos vemos


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-bienकेतेवाइयाबियन
I love this Spanish phrase. It means to enjoy or get the full out of the opportunity – 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 emphasizes their leave-the-worries-behind attitude.Que Disfrutesk-dis-fru-tesकेदिसफ़्रुतेस

Though these are the main Spanish expressions used for greetings, some of the phrases would change as per the individual South-American country.

Insider tip 1 on how to pronounce Spanish words.

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

Insider tip 2 on pronouncing Spanish words.

 The letter t is spoken very softly in Spanish, and its sound is similar to the sound of the letter (त) 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)

EnglishSpanish Phrases for Travelers to express that they know limited SpanishHow to pronounce Spanish words in English phoneticallyHow to pronounce Spanish words in Hindi phonetically
I don’t understand!No en-tee-enn-doनो 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-nyolआबलोउनपोकोदेएसपानयोल
Please, speak a little slower. (Most of the Latin Americans speak fast.)Por favor, hable más lentepor-fah-bor, aab-le maas len-teपोरफाबोर, आबले मास लेनते
Can you say that again?Puede repetir.pue-de-repe-teerपुएदे 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. 

Insider Tip 3 on basic Spanish:

In the Spanish language, 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 on Spanish articles:

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, you are perfectly okay even if you miss the articles.

Introducing yourself  – Spanish Introduction Phrases

EnglishCommon Spanish Phrases for Travelers to introduce themselvesHow to pronounce Spanish words in English phoneticallyHow to pronounce Spanish words in Hindi phonetically
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-siasमुईबियन, 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-soyमिनोमब्रे एस __ or जो सोई
It’s a pleasure to meet youMucho gusto. moo-cho goos-toमूचोगूसतो
Where are you from?De donde eres? dey-don-de-er-esदेदोन्दे एरएस?
I come from __(Yo) soy de __soy-dey __सोई दे __
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-yosजो 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 __


Insider Tip 5 on the two different forms of Spanish verbs for being:

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)

Insider Tip 6 on framing simple Spanish sentences:

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 for using the correct Spanish words for an elder or for respect:

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 a traveler no one would mind if you refer to them with all the time. But if you are trying to learn advanced Spanish, you should use both the forms. For this article, I use tú whenever the second person comes into the picture. 

Basic Spanish Questions

EnglishSimple Spanish questionsHow to pronounce Spanish words in English phoneticallyHow to pronounce Spanish words in Hindi phonetically
Where is __?Dónde está __? don-de es-ta?दोनदे एसता?
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 on one of the most common phrases in Spanish:

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, you would also have to speak about your choices frequently.

And if Latinos say that they don’t like something, respect that, for they appreciate it. And if you tell them that you don’t want or adore a particular thing or food, they would remember your preference. See how my Chilean friends were cooking vegetarian food and chicken for me at the Chile independence day when I told them I didn’t eat beef.

Food and Drinks. Useful Spanish phrases and words for travelers to use at a restaurant

Tip 9 on common Spanish verbs:

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, 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 you can assume the subjects to be male unless mentioned.

Tip 10 on one of the most common Spanish travel phrases:

The verb for 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 while traveling, so please remember it.  

EnglishRestaurant Phrases in SpanishHow to pronounce Spanish words in English phoneticallyHow to pronounce Spanish words in Hindi phonetically
One table for 2 please. una mesa para dos, por favor. oona-me-ja paara dos, por faa-borऊना 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 sharePara compartirpa-ra com-paar-tirपारा कोमपारतीर
A drink, please.una bebida, por favoroo-na beh-bee-daऊना बेबीदा
A beer or two beer, please.Una cerveza/dos cervezas, por favor. oo-na sir-ve-ja/dos sir-ve-jaas, por faa-borऊना सर्वेज़ा, दोस् सर्वेज़ास, पोर फाबोर
A glass of red or white wineun vino tinto/blanco. oon vee-no tin-toh / blan-kohउन वीनो तिनतो/ब्लानको
coffee/teaun café/una teoon ka-fay/oona tayउन काफ़े/ऊना ते
Coffee with milk, pleaseCafé con leche por favorka-fay con lay-lay-chay por-faa-borकाफ़े 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-nayतियेनएस कोमिदा वेहेतारीयाना? or आलगो सिन कारने?
I am vegetarian. (Yo) soy Vegetariano. soy ve-he-ta-ree-aa-noसो वेहेतारियानो
I have an allergy to nutsTengo alergia a las nuecesTen-go al-er-khee-ah a las noo-eh-sesतेंगो ऐलएरखीआह लोस नुएसेस 
Dinnerla cenala say-naला सेना
Supper or a light and earlier version of dinner which might completely replace dinner.Onceon-sayओनसे
soup una sopaoo-na so-paaना सोपा
salad una ensaladaoo-na en-sa-la-daऊना एनसेलादा
an appetizeruna entrada oo-na en-tra-daऊना एँत्रादा
a main dishun plato principal oon pla-to prin-see-palउन प्लातोप्रिंसीपाल
a dessertun postreoon pos-trayउन पोस्त्रे
The meat (beef) – If nothing else is mentioned, carne is beef in South carne or Carne de vacala car-nay Or car-nay de vaa-caaला कारने Or कारनेदेवाका
chickenel polloel poy-ohएल पोय्यो
Fishel-pescadoel pes-kaadoएल पेसकादो
BreadEl panel paanएलपान
Enjoy (bon Appetite)Buen Provechoboo-en pro-vay-choबुएन प्रोवेचो
It was really tasty.Estuvo muy moo-yee ree-koएसतूवो मूयी रीको
Where is the bathroom?Dónde está el baño?don-day es-tah el baan-yoदोनदे एसताह एल बाणयो
The bill, pleaseLa cuenta, por coen-tah por-faaborला कुएँता, पोर फाबोर

Tip 11 on Spanish pronunciation:

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 list of advanced Spanish phrases for travel. 

Tip 12 on how to speak Spanish:

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

Tip 13 on how to say the common travel phrases in Spanish without feeling the burden:

Saying a full Spanish sentence or the entire question or the phrase would be confusing in the beginning. You can just say the main words such as the nouns and the action while ignoring the articles, correct verb form, et cetera. People would understand. For example, instead of asking someone if they can click your photo, say one photo, please. (una photo, por favor)

Tip 14 on Spanish pronunciation:

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

Tip 15 on some crucial Spanish words to know:

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

Tip 16 on basic Spanish grammar rules: 

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 if you are looking to improve your Spanish. 

Miscellaneous But important Everyday Spanish Phrases for Travelling

EnglishMiscellaneous Common Spanish phrases for travelHow to pronounce Spanish words in English phoneticallyHow to pronounce Spanish words in Hindi phonetically
PleasePor favorpor-fah-borपोरफाबोर
Excuse me (getting attention)Disculpedees-cool-pehदिजकुलपे
Excuse me (begging pardon)Perdónperr-donपेर्रदोन
I’m sorryLo siento/perdónlo see-yen-toh/perr-donलोसीयेंतो/पेर्रदोन
MenHombres / Caballerosom-brays/ka-bah-yeh-rozओमब्रेसक़ाबाजेरोस
How to say 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 en español?ko-mo say-dee-say en ehs-paa-nyol?कोमो से दिसे एन एसपानयोल?
Me too or also/ the sametambién / lo mismotaam-bee-yen/lo meez-moतामबीएन/ लो मीसमो
This is way of saying excuse me in Spanish. 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.Permisoper-mee-soपरमिसो
Do you understand?Entiende?en-tee-en-dayएनतीयेनदे?
Can I pay?Puedo pagar?pweh-doh pa-gaarपुएदो पगार?
Email.Correo electrónicokoreo elek-tro-neecoकोरियो इलेकत्रोनीको
I am hungry.Tengo Hambreten-go aam-breyतेनगो आमब्रे
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-yonतेंगो 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 faaborउन फोतो, पोर फाबोर
No ideaNi ideaNee ee-day-yahनी इदेयाह
What does __ mean?Qué significa __?kay sig-nif-ee -ka?के सिग्निफ़िका?
Help me, please.Ayuda me, por favor.ayu-dah, por faa-borआज़ुदा में, पोर फाबोर
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 __?
Will wait for youTe esperotay es-peroते एस्पेरो
to sign.Firmarfir-maarफिरमार
Where can I buy?Donde puedo comprar?don-day pueh-push-doh com-pra-aarदोन्दे 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?
BothAmbos or say los dos.aam-bos, los dosआमबोस, लोस दोस्
That’s very expensiveEs muy caroes moo-yee caar -rohएस मूयी कार्रो
We paidPagemos.paa-gay-mosपागेमोस
The guide- If you are on a trek, this might be handy.La guíala-gee-yaahलागीया
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.Alअलतीरो
This is one of the slang Spanish phrases. 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.Claroklah-rohक्लारो
Do you need anything 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 wish many things when someone leaves. 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. They would understand that you took an effort to learn an easy word, and make conversation.Igualmenteigg-yual-men-tehइगुआलमेंते

Tip 17 on the alphabet sounds in Spanish:

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 on Spanish pronunciation:

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 Traveling Phrases

EnglishBasic Spanish Phrases for TravelHow to pronounce Spanish words in English phoneticallyHow to pronounce Spanish words in Hindi phonetically
Straight aheadDerechode-re-choदेरेचो
Bus stationEstación de buses-tah-see-on deh boosएसतासीयोंन दे बुस
Train stationEstación de trenes-tah-see-on deh trenएसतासीयोंन दे त्रेन
at the cornerEn la esquinaen la es-kee-nahएन ला एसकीना
in one, two, three blocksEn una, dos, tres cuadraen oo-naa, dos, tres kwah-draएन ऊना,दोस्,त्रेस कुआदरा
Where is ___ street?la calle ___? la ka-yehला 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 herePor favor, lléveme a esta direcccionpor faa-bor, yeh-ve-meh a es-tah direk-see-yonपोर 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 __?
nearestmas cercanomaas sir-kaanoमास सरकानो


Tip 19 on everyday Spanish basic phrases:

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

Numbers in Spanish

EnglishNumbers in SpanishHow to pronounce numbers in English phoneticallyHow to pronounce numbers in Hindi phonetically

Days of the week in Spanish

EnglishDays in SpanishHow to pronounce days in English phoneticallyHow to pronounce days in Hindi phonetically
ThursdayJueveshue-ves हुएवेस

Tip 20 on days, weeks, and years in Spanish:

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)

EnglishChilean Currency in SpanishHow to pronounce days in English phoneticallyHow to pronounce days in Hindi phonetically
A thousand Chilean pesos.Un mil o mil pesooon-mil o mil pee-sohउन मिल मिल पीसो
two thousanddos mil dos milदोस् मिल
And so on and so forth.    

Tip 21 on English to Spanish phrase translation:

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. 

For example, perfect becomes perfecto in Spanish. Direction becomes dirección. Many other words can be suffixed with a cción to get their Spanish versions. 

Emergency/Ask for help – Spanish Common phrases that will save you

EnglishLatin-American Spanish Phrases for TravelersHow to pronounce days in English phoneticallyHow to pronounce days in Hindi phonetically
Help, pleaseAyuda, por favor.aa-yuh-dah, por faaborआयुदा, पोरफाबोर
I have a problemTengo una Problema.ten-go oon-prob-leh-mahतेंगो उना प्रोबलेमा
I need a doctorNecesito un doctorneh-seh-see-toh uhn dok-tohrनेसेसितो उन दोकतोर
I don’t feel wellNo me siento bien / Me siento malno meh see-yen-toh bee-y enनो मैं सिएँतो बियेन
Call the policeLlama a la paoliciajah-mah ah lah poh-lee-see-ahजामा ला पोलिसीया
I am lostEstoy perdidoes-toy per-dee-dohएसतोय परदीदो

Tip 22 on colloquial Spanish phrases (read Chilean Slang):

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.

Some important Spanish sentences for beginners. Quick references.

  • How do you say how are you in Spanish?
cómo estás?ko-mo es-taasको–मो एस–तास
  • How to say good morning in Spanish?
Buenos díasbwe-nos-dee-yasब्वेनोसदीयास
  • How to say excuse me in Spanish?
Excuse me (getting attention)Disculpedees-cool-pehदिज–कुल–पे
  • How do you say where are you from in Spanish?
Where are you from?De donde eres?dey-don-de-er-esदे–दोन्दे एर–एस?
  • How to say how old are you in Spanish?
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?के–एदाद ति–येन–एस? Or क्वांतोस आनयोस ति–येन–एस?
  • How do you say a heartfelt thank you in Spanish?

Spanish word for thank you is gracias.

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-siasमूचास–ग्रासियास
  • How do you say thank you sir in Spanish?

Gracias, Señor.

  • How to say South America in Spanish?


  • How to say Spanish in Spanish?

Spanish is Español.

  • How to say sentence in Spanish?


  • How to say words in Spanish?


Hope this list of Spanish phrases that I have collected by remembering my most daunting, challenging, and exhilarating Spanish conversations help you on your South-American journey!

Follow Up Reads

If you are traveling in South America or in any other parts of the world and want to learn a new language – How to learn a new language by yourself.

If you are traveling in Chile – My comprehensive travel guide to backpacking Chile

Traveling in Bolivia – Experiential travel guide to Bolivia

Traveling in Peru – A detailed Backpack Peru guide

basic spanish phrases


If I have made a mistake in the spellings or pronunciations, please let me know. Do you have some other conversational Spanish phrases for travelers to add to the list? Do leave them in a comment. Hope this helped.

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9 thoughts on “Most Common Spanish Phrases For Travelers [Survive South America]”

  1. I loved this post! As a traveler to South America, I found this list of common Spanish phrases to be incredibly helpful. It’s always daunting to navigate a new place where the language is different, but having these basic phrases under my belt has made me feel so much more confident and comfortable. Thank you for sharing!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

    • Thank you so much, Cecilia. I have an entire blog post on tips for aspiring 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.


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