Let’s start chatting in Spanish

by Bernard O'Shea

Spanish is the most widely spoken of the Romance languages, being spoken not only in Spain but in all of Latin America except Brazil, and by many people in the United States of America, plus others (details here). Bear in mind that in some parts of Spain, what you think might be Spanish could be Catalan or Galician,  and just like there is big difference between Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, the Spanish in Latin America can be quite different to that spoken in ‘the mother country’.

So, there are many exotic places where you can practise your Spanish. If not in one of the big cities in Spain, such as Madrid or Seville, how great it would be to have a conversation at Machu Picchu in Peru, for example, or in Quito in Ecuador or Cartagena in Columbia. Alas, the only parts of Spanish South America I have been to are Santiago and Valparaíso in Chile (the picture above was taken at the fish market in the capital, and Buenos Aires and nearby Tigre in Argentina. I have also been to Los Cabos in Mexico.

Essential vocabulary

Right, let’s get started (to begin is empezar or comenzar). When you first greet someone you say buenos días, buenas tardes or buenas noches – note that the Spanish are very generous and they do not wish you one good day, afternoon or night, they wish you many. You can see from the agreement of nouns and adjectives that día is a masculine word and that tarde and noche are feminine. More casually you could just say hola, hello

To ask how are you?, you would say cómo está? If you are unlucky, the answer to this may be no me siento bien, meaning I don’t feel very well, but hopefully you will get muy bien, gracias. Y usted?, as in very well thanks, and you? Less formally, if you were chatting to a friend, you would say cómo estás? and the answer back would be muy bien, gracias. Y tú? 

Bien is a key word which has many uses, most of them to do with wellness, but one of the more unexpected uses is bien bien for either … or: for example, bien en coche bien en tren, either by car or by train. And bien can mean very, as in bien caliente, meaning very warm or hot.

Incidentally (a propósito), the word for morning is mañana, and you are probably familiar with the expression hasta mañana, meaning see you tomorrow (as in the sense of until tomorrow).

Some expressions that I hope you will use often are estar de buenas, to be in a good mood, and que pase un buen dia, have a nice day. On that cheerful note, I shall leave you. Hasta prontosee you soon. 🙂

Here is ABBA‘s Spanish version of Hasta mañana

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