In collaboration
with Rough Guides

Speak like a local: Essential Spanish phrases for your getaway

It's easy to pick up a few words in Spanish. English is spoken in the main tourist areas of the Canary Islands, but you’ll get a far better reception if you try communicating with Canarios in their own tongue. When it comes to pronunciation, Canarian Spanish differs by the absence of a “lisp” on the letter “c” before vowels – which is replaced by an “s” sound. So Barcelona, pronounced Barthelona in Spain, becomes Barselona. However, in casual conversation, locals don't even really bother with “s” sounds at all, particularly at the end of a word – so gracias becomes gracia.

In collaboration
with Rough Guides

Words and phrases


Yes, No, OK Si, No, Vale

Please, Thank you Por favor, Gracias

Where?, When? ¿Dónde?, ¿Cuándo?

The Canary Islands welcome as many as 12 million visitors per year.

What?, How much? ¿Qué?, ¿Cuánto?

Here, There Aquí, Allí

This, That Esto, Eso

Now, Later Ahora, Más tarde

Open, Closed Abierto/a, Cerrado/a

With, Without Con, Sin

Good, Bad Buen(o)/a, Mal(o)/a

Big, Small Gran(de), Pequeño/a

Cheap, Expensive Barato, Caro

Hot, Cold Caliente, Frío

More, Less Más, Menos

Today, Tomorrow Hoy, Mañana

Yesterday Ayer

The bill La cuenta

Greetings and responses

Hello Hola

Goodbye Adiós

Good morning Buenos días

Good afternoon/night Buenas tardes/noches

See you later Hasta luego

Sorry Lo siento/Disculpe

Excuse me Con permiso/Perdón

How are you? ¿Cómo está (usted)?

I (don’t) understand (No) Entiendo

You’re welcome/not at all De nada

Do you speak English? ¿Hablas (usted) inglés? 

I (don’t) speak Spanish (No) Hablo español

My name is… Me llamo…

What’s your name? ¿Como se llama usted? 

Transport and directions

How do I get to…? ¿Por donde se va a…?

Left Izquierda 

Right derecha 

Straight on todo recto

Where is…? ¿Dónde está…?

… the bus station …la estación de guaguas 

… the nearest bank …el banco mas cercano

The island of La Gomera developed its own whistling language called “Silbo Gomero”, in order to communicate across its vast valleys.

the post office …el correos/la oficina de correos

the toilet …el baño/los aseos

Where does the bus to… leave from? ¿De dónde sale la guagua para…?

I’d like a (return) ticket to… Quisiera un billete (de ida y vuelta) para…

What time does it leave? ¿A qué hora sale?

Numbers and days

1 un/uno/una

2 dos

3 tres

4 cuatro

5 cinco 

6 seis 

7 siete 

8 ocho 

9 nueve 

10 diez 

11 once 

12 doce 

13 trece

14 catorce

15 quince

16 diez y seis

17 diez y siete

18 diez y ocho

19 diez y nueve

20 veinte

100 cien(to) 

1000 mil

Monday lunes

Tuesday martes

Wednesday miércoles

Thursday jueves

Friday viernes

Saturday sábado

Sunday domingo

Menu reader

To have breakfast Esmorzar 

To have lunch Dinar 

To have dinner Sopar 

Knife Ganivet 

Fork Forquilla 

Spoon Cullera 

Table Taula 

Bottle Ampolla 

Glass Got 

Menu Carta 

Soup Sopa 

Salad Amanida 

Hors d’oeuvres Entremesos 

You’ll hear these casual phrases out and about in Barcelona – and dropping them in to conversation will make you smug with sophistication: 

Fem un café? Let’s have a coffee
Salut i força al canut! To health and money
Déu n’hi do! Wow!
S’ha acabat el bròquil The jig is up
Quatre gats Four cats (as in, only four people turned up, a small gathering)

agua minerale mineral water

à la plancha grilled

al ajillo in garlic

al punto medium

arroz rice

asado roast

atún tuna

azúcar sugar

bacalao cod

bocadillo sandwich

boquerones anchovies

buey/res beef

café coffee

calamares squid

callos tripe

cangrejo crab

cerdo pork

cerveza beer

champiñones mushrooms

cocido stew

cordero lamb

ensalada salad

entremeses hors-d’oeuvre

flan caramel custard

helado ice cream

jamón serrano cured ham

judías beans

langosta lobster

leche milk

mariscos shellfish

mejillones mussels

pan bread

pescado fish

picante spicy

pollo chicken

postre dessert

pulpitos baby octopus

queso cheese

sal salt

ternera veal

tortilla omelette

trucha trout 

salsa sauce

vino wine

verduras vegetables

Una cerveza, por favor One beer, please

You could also be interested in

Find your perfect destination

Sign up to our newsletter

We'll send you exclusive offers and sneak peeks of our best deals,
plus travel tips and the latest advice on where you can go.