Have you ever been in a social situation where most people spoke Spanish and hardly any English? Did you feel left out by not being able to participate in the conversation? Or maybe your Spanish was so rudimentary it was almost painful. Would you like to do better next time? Keep reading!
This class is the first in our Basic Spanish course, which aims to take you from Spanish zero to hero in as short a time as possible.
Written by highly experienced, bilingual, Spanish teachers, the course focuses on the type of Spanish you’ll need out there in the real world.
All of the classes in the course include simple explanations, real-life examples taken from social media, and audio files with a combination of Spanish and Latin American accents.
First things first
Let’s start by looking at some basic greetings.
- Buenos días.
It means “Good morning”. Depending on the country, you can usually use this greeting until 1 or 2 pm.
- Buenas tardes.
It means “Good afternoon.” In many Spanish-speaking countries, this one can be used until or even after 8 pm if it’s still light out.
- Buenas noches.
This one can mean “Good evening” or “Good night”. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to tell the difference in every situation.
This is the most generic and common greeting at any time of the day. If you already know the person you’re talking to, it will often be followed by a friendly ¿qué tal?
- ¿qué tal?
Pay attention next time you’re around Spanish speakers and you’ll hear how the words are linked all together as if they were just one word.
Now that you’ve broken the ice and said hello, you need to introduce yourself. Here are some useful phrases you can use to tell others a little bit about yourself when meeting someone new.
|Hola, me llamo Alex.||Hi, my name is Alex.|
|Hola, soy Alex.||Hi, I’m Alex.|
|Soy de Estados Unidos.||I’m from the United States.|
|Tengo 26 años.||I’m 26 years old.|
|Soy arquitecto.||I’m an architect.|
|Soy estudiante.||I’m a student.|
|Vivo en Madrid.||I live in Madrid.|
|Vivo aquí desde hace tres meses.||I’ve been living here for three months.|
We can say which country we are from, for example:
- Soy de Inglaterra – I’m from England
- Soy de Canadá – I’m from Canada
- Soy de Irlanda – I’m from Ireland
- Soy de Irlanda del Norte – I’m from Northern Ireland
- Soy de Escocia – I’m from Scotland
- Soy de Gales – I’m from Wales
Alternatively, we can directly give our nationality:
- Soy Inglés – I’m English*
- Soy Irlandés – I’m Irish*
There is, however, an additional complication with this second form, as Spanish has separate male and females versions. We cover this in more detail in our class on basic Spanish phrases (which also has a very nice video with our lovely native-speaker, Katia)
*The versions in our two examples are for men only. Sorry ladies!
Spanish spelling is pretty straight forward. Most letters are always pronounced the same way. So, once you’re sure how to pronounce one specific letter it’ll usually be pronounced the same way every time. Sounds easy, right?
But there are always exceptions to the rule. The first one is the letter “h”. It’s a silent letter. You should never pronounce it. Write it but never say it.
Just to give you an idea, if you write or text ola instead of hola, you’re saying “wave” (as in sea waves) instead of “hi”, and you won’t be giving that good first impression you’re aiming for.
Another important letter is eñe. I mean ñ as in España. That’s right, it’s a letter, not an n that’s trying to be funny by wearing some strange hat. It comes right after n and before o in the Spanish alphabet and it has its own distinctive pronunciation. It sounds like the ny in canyon.
When you’re talking about your age, be very careful to say años [anyos] and not anos [anos]. If you say Tengo 28 anos, you’ll be saying that you have 28 anuses and that probably wasn’t what you wanted to say!
For a great introduction to Spanish pronunciation, check out our imaginatively-named Guide to Spanish Pronunciation. As well as having lots of examples of how to pronounce Spanish correctly, it also covers some common errors that you really need to avoid!
Real people introducing themselves
Let’s have a look at some videos of people introducing themselves for some TV shows. How many of the phrases you’ve learned can you identify?
From Big Brother:
A casting for First Dates:
Another one from Big Brother:
And now another couple from First Dates:
Introducing yourself right is very important. At this stage, you can memorise phrases to talk about yourself and then go on building from that. Watch the videos and try to copy the intonation and the way Spanish speakers link words. This will make you sound more natural and give you self-confidence. And once you’re sure of yourself, find some Spanish speakers to practice your new skills with. To see videos of native speakers introducing themselves, visit our first class on Spanish phrases.