For expats living in Latin America, knowing at least some Spanish is a necessity for day-to-day life. While many of the natives in your new home may have at least a basic level of English, knowing how to communicate with them in their mother tongue can help to build relationships with the people around you. And the more Spanish you know, the easier it will be to make new friends and integrate into the community, making life that bit more fun.
Being able to chat to your neighbors isn’t the only upside, either. Having some Spanish will take the stress out of numerous other day-to-day situations. There’s a great sense of ease that comes with knowing how to tell a dentist which tooth hurts, a plumber which pipes need repairing, or even a pizza delivery guy which house to go to.
And knowing Spanish won’t only aid you in your new home. Spanish is one of the top five most spoken languages in the world, with over 20 countries regarding it as their official language. Having a basic grasp of phrases and grammar opens up communication possibilities throughout the world.
Of course, any Spanish phrasebook will teach you the basics—hola, adiós, dos cervezas por favor. But these words and phrases can only get you so far, and don’t account for a lot of the regular occurrences of everyday life. With this in mind, our International Living experts have put together a list of what they believe to be the Top 9 Essential Spanish Phrases for Living in Latin America. So if you dream of a new life in Ecuador, Panama, or any other Spanish speaking country, then check out the list below to jumpstart your Spanish education.
1. Por favor, hable más despacio (pohr fah-vor, ah-bleh mahs dehs-pahs-ee-oh) – Speak more slowly please
2. Dónde está el baño? (don-day es-tah el ban-yoh) – Where is the bathroom?
3. Estoy enfermo/enferma. Puede llamar a un medico? (es-toy en-fer-mo [m] or en-fer-mah [f]. pwe-day ya-mar ah un med-ee-koh) – I am sick. Can you call a doctor?
4. Por favor, una mesa para ____ (oona meh-sa pah-rah) – A table for ____, please.
5. Cómo se dice ______ en español? (koh-moh seh dee-seh ___ en eh-spahn-yol) – How do you say ____ in Spanish?
6. Buen Provecho (bwayn pro-vay-cho) – Have a nice meal – it’s like saying bon apetit
7. La cuenta, por favor (la kwen-tah, por fa-vor) – The bill, please
8. Lo pase muy bien (loh pass-eh moo-ee bee-ehn) – I had a wonderful time
9. Por favor, lléveme a esta direction (pohr fah-bohr, yeve-meh ah es-tah dee-rehk-syohn) – Please take me to this address
Bonus Phrase: No entiendo. ¿Hablas inglés? (no en-tee-en-doh. ah-blas een-glays) – I don’t understand. Do you speak English?
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