Spanish Words & Expressions

The first thing we suggest you do is to buy a good English / Spanish Dictionary.

You should learn your numbers from 1 -10, 11- 20, then all the double digit numbers of 30, 40,50 and so on.  Once you know those, you simply ADD the smaller number to the round number of 30, 40, etc.  Example:  the number 6 is ‘seis’, therefore for the number 26, you would add the number 20 ‘viente’ (pronounced bain-tay)and 6 ‘seis’ and you would say ‘viente y seis’  (that is 20 and 6….simply 26).  The letter y (prounced E) always means ‘and’.

Learn your numbers into the hundreds, because when you want to buy (comprar) something (algo) you will need to understand how many pesos you are being asked to pay.  Something that is around $100.00 U.S. dollars, will be “mill tres cientos quarenta y cinco”…that is $1,345 pesos.  So, as you can see, working on the numbers is a very important area of the language.

Example:  If you buy (comprar) a soda (el refresco), you must ask “cuanto cuesta” (how much it costs).  If it is thirty pesos, it is ‘treinta’ pesos.

Learn the pronunciation of the Spanish alphabet.  And, remember, in Spanish EVERY LETTER in a word is pronounced……except for the letter ‘H’ which is always silent.


  1. On-line –, (Rocket Spanish is a great, simple upstart for basic conversation.  Less expensive than most and worth every penny)
  2. Audio:  Pimsleur Spanish (entire collection of Phase 1 through last phase.  You may be able to download all onto iPod.   Excellent teaching method.
  3. Books:
    1. Barron’s Foreign Language Guide 501 Spanish Verbs
    2. Barron’s (or any other) Spanish / English Dictionary


You will find the Mexican people will always greet you when you walk into a store, the doctor’s office, a restaurant, or just passing on the street.  You should know the basic greetings.

  • Good Morning (Daylight till noon) “Buenos Dias” (notice the OS at the end of Buenos)
  • Good Afternoon (noon till generally 8:pm) “Buenas Tardes” (notice now the ‘as’ at the end of Buenas)
  • Good Evening  (generally 7 – 8pm (dark) until 12 midnight) “Buenas Noches”
  • Hardy Appetite / Good Appetite “Buen Provecho”.  You can say this as a general public statement when you enter a restaurant and to people at your table as they begin to eat.
  • See you later / See you soon “Hasta Luego” / “Hasta Pronto”
  • I wish you well “Que te vaya bien”

The Mexican people are very polite; therefore, saying thank you is a large part of your daily interaction:

Thank You – ‘Gracias’.

Thank you very much – “Muchas Gracias”

You’re welcome – “De nada” (it’s nothing)  or “Por Nada” (for nothing)


To ask “where is” you will say “Donde esta”, example:  Where is the bathroom?

“Donde Esta el baño” (baño is pronounced ban-yo)


If you need to pass by someone who is in your way or if you have to ecuse yourself from a table or conversation, say “perdon por favor” or “disculpe”.


If you ask for directions, pay close attention to two very similar words for “right” or “straight”.

DERECHA – means to the right

DERECHO – means straight (‘o’ at end instead of ‘a’)

TODO DERECHO – all the way straight ahead

IZQUIERDA – means to the left

SEMAFORO –  traffic light

LA ESQUINA – the corner

CALLE – street (pronounced ka-yay)

AVENIDA  – avenue

GLORIETA – a roundabout, traffic circle



Usually, when you are given the menu (pronounced men-oo in Spanish) you will generally hear “Quiere algo para tomar?” Do you want something to drink?

Also, if you are in a fairly cosmopolitan area, you may ask for a menu in English (menu en Ingles?)