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Basic Spanish Words and Phrases for Every Conversation

by Madeleine Lee

Can you guess how many words there are in the Royal Spanish Academy Dictionary? 

93,000 words at the last count. 

To the average language learner, that’s an intimidating number.  The good news is that most Spanish speakers only use a small fraction of that number for daily conversation. Knowing just 5,000 words can help you feel comfortable and confident in almost any conversation! 

We’ve compiled a list of common Spanish words and phrases that you’ll find helpful as you master the language. They include: 

  • Basic Spanish words
  • Basic Spanish greetings (formal and informal) 
  • Basic Spanish questions
  • Basic Spanish responses 
  • How to ask for clarification
  • How to talk about people
  • Basic Spanish verbs 

Consider these your building blocks. You’ll use these every day and in every situation, for both formal and informal interactions. 

Let’s get you on your way to mastering the basics!  

>> Check out our Spanish Essentials guide to learn more about Spanish pronouns, verb conjugations, numbers, and nouns. 

Basic Spanish words 

Yes, no, maybe so. It doesn’t get any more fundamental than this list. 

ClaroOf course
GraciasThank you
De nadaYou’re welcome
¿Por qué?Why?

Basic Spanish greetings

There’s a greeting for every situation. Here’s a list of greetings to use in professional environments or when meeting a stranger for the first time. 

Common formal Spanish greetings

Hola, mucho gustoHi, nice to meet you
Buenos díasGood morning
Buenas tardesGood afternoon
Buenas nochesGood night
Hola, ¿cómo le va?Hi, how have you been?
Hola, un placerHi, it’s a pleasure [to meet you]
Encantado/aDelighted [to meet you]

Common casual Spanish greetings

Here’s how to say “hey” and “see ya” to your best mates. 

¿Qué onda?What’s up? 
¿Qué hay de nuevo?What’s new? 
¿Qué tal?What’s up?/How are you? 
¿Cómo va todo?How’s everything going? 
Hola, qué gustoHi, what a pleasure [seeing you]
¡Cuídate mucho!Take care! 
¡Hasta luego! See you soon! 

Basic Spanish questions

Meeting someone for the first time? Get to know them with these common informal conversation starters in Spanish. 

¿Cómo te llamas?What is your name? 
¿De dónde eres?Where are you from? 
¿Dónde vives?Where do you live? 
¿Qué haces ahora?What are you doing right now? 
¿Cómo hiciste eso?How did you do that? 
¿Cuál es tu película favorita?¿Cuál es tu libro favorito?​​¿Cuál es tu podcast favorito?¿Cuál es tu canción favorita?What is your favorite movie? What is your favorite book? What is your favorite podcast? What is your favorite song? 
¿Te gusta _______?Do you like…? 
¿Y tú?And you? 

Basic Spanish responses

Every conversation has two sides. Don’t be shy! Here’s how you can respond to common questions. 

Me llamo…My name is…
Soy…I am…
(Yo) soy de…I am from…
(Yo) vivo en…I live in…
Mi película favorita es…My favorite movie is…
Me gusta…I like…
Hay…There is…

Asking for clarification in Spanish

Since Spanish isn’t your first language, you’ll want to learn how to troubleshoot your conversation. Learn how to ask someone to slow down, repeat themselves, and more. 

¿Cómo?I beg your pardon? 
¿Puedes repetir eso, por favor?Can you repeat that, please? 
¿Qué significa eso?What does that mean? 
Más despacio, por favor. Slow down, please. 
No entiendo.I don’t understand. 
No sé. I don’t know. 

Basic Spanish people words

People are the center of our conversations. Here’s how to talk about them. 

Mejor amigo/amigaBest friend
Compañero/a de claseClassmate
Compañero/a de trabajoCoworker

Basic Spanish verbs

Finally, verbs are the glue that keep your sentences together! We list them below in their infinitive forms, but check out our Spanish Essentials guide to learn how to use them in a sentence. 

EstarTo be
TenerTo have
HacerTo do/make
GustarTo like
SaberTo know
QuererTo want
EntenderTo understand
DarTo give
LlamarTo call
ComerTo eat
BeberTo drink

Go beyond Spanish basics 

The fundamental Spanish words and phrases listed above can help you get by in any conversation! To deepen your understanding and expand your connections, Rosetta Stone can help you take your learning to the next level—and get you conversation-ready in no time. 

With Rosetta Stone, you’ll never have to memorize a vocabulary list. Instead, you’ll learn Spanish immersively, like you would if you lived abroad, with images to help you contextualize words and audio from native speakers to help you perfect your accent. Plus, with TruAccent, you get immediate feedback on your pronunciation every time! 

Did we mention you can take Rosetta Stone on-the-go with our app? Choose from over 24 languages and master your first lesson in just 10 minutes at www.rosettastone.com

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