Advice, Culture

Speaking of Spanish: How to be More Conversational

How to be More Conversational in Spanish

Learning Spanish? Being conversational is more than the perfunctory ¿cómo estás?, but instead involves using everyday phrases throughout your chats. Earn approving nods when you’re in Mexico City with these tried-and-true expressions: 

¿Qué onda? 

In U.S. English, “what’s up?” is asked to friends. You can treat this slangy phrase the same way: maybe not the best for grandma, but always appropriate during a casual setting.

¿Cómo has estado? 

This one’s great for catching up with someone you haven’t seen for a bit. Simply put, it means, “How have you been?” 

Hace mucho que no nos vemos. 

If it’s been a long time since you’ve seen someone, say this phrase. It means “It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other.” 

Bueno, me tengo que ir for when it’s time to go. 

Dipping out of the party without saying goodbye is a no-no. Instead, say this expression to say “Well, I need to go” and head for the door. 

Skip hasta la vista and say nos vemos luego

Hasta la vista isn’t as common as the movies lead you to believe. This quick “see you later” is perfect for when you’re saying goodbye. 

Que estés bien for “be well.” 

Que estésroughly translates to “may you be…” and the que modifies estar into subjunctive form. (The subjunctive is key for Spanish learning.) More or less, this means “may you be well” or just “be well.” 

No entendí. ¿Usted podría repetir, por favor? 

This phrase is extremely useful in Spanish. It means: “I didn’t understand. Could you repeat, please?” Utilizing two important tenses––the preterite (entendí) and the conditional (podría)––as well as the formal usted mode of address, you can ask for clarification in the politest of terms. 

¿Qué me recomienda? 

Ditch your tour guide and get the locals’ recommendations instead. This one is simple: what do you recommend? Say it if you’re looking for a secret bar, trendy new museum, want fashion advice, or can’t decide on which dessert to pick.

If you’re ready to have a real-world conversation, take the Rosetta Stone free trial. While you’re there, open Phrasebook, where you can find other expressions to use in Mexico City and beyond.

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