95 Spanish Phrases

Beginners Spanish phrases: Part three

Rob Ashby

Rob Ashby

The Spanish Obsessive

This is part three of our tour through Spanish in essential basic phrases, helping you learn the basics of grammar while building a core of essential and adaptable phrases.

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41

Va a ser

It’s going to be

Construction

Here is the construction:

Va: From ir, meaning “to go”, conjugated for él, ella

a: To

ser: to be (in the infinitive).

Ir a + verb (infinitive) is a very useful construction to talk about the future, meaning “going to”.

Why we love it

“Va” comes from the verb “ir”, “to go”. It’s an irregular conjugation, and one you’ll have to memorise. “Ir” with “a” means “going to”, and is a good way of talking about the future. “Va a ser” means “it’s going to be” – a highly common phrase you’ll hear.

42

Vamos a ver

We’ll see/let’s see

Construction

This uses the same ir a + verb construction, this time with nosotros and the verb ver (“to see”).

Why we love it

You’ll hear this phrase so incredibly often – it’s pretty much used as a “filler” across all Spanish speaking countries, just as “let’s see” is in English.

43

¿Qué vas a hacer?

What are you going to do?

Construction

Qué means “what”, vas a is literally “you go to”, and hacer is “to do”. This means “what are you going to do”.

Why we love it

Although Spanish has a tense dedicated to the future, you can use the construction ir a + infinitive to talk about future plans. It’s incredibly common, and will help you out – a great one to learn!

44

Para saber

In order to know

Construction

Para, meaning “for”, “in order to”, and saber meaning “to know”: “In order to know”.

Why we love it

There are two words which learners often get mixed up: Por and para, which can both be translated as “for”. While we won’t go through all the rules now, we’ll give you a few useful phrases which also illustrate the uses of these words in different contexts. You’ll hear para saber a lot…

45

Solo por saber

Just to know

Construction

Solo meaning “just”, and por meaning, in this case, “to”, and saber, “to know”.

Why we love it

This phrase is subtly different to para saber, and could be translated as “so that I know”. Memorise this phrase and the previous one, and you’ll start to get to grips with the distinctions between ,por and para.

46

Por eso

That’s why/because of that

Construction

Eso means “that” – the literal translation here is “for that”, but it’s used in contexts meaning “that’s why”.

Why we love it

Another one to help you get to grips with por, and it’s an incredibly common and useful little nugget.

47

Para hacer eso

In order to do that

Construction

Both por and para can be used in combination with verbs in the infinitive. When para is used, it takes the meaning “in order to”, whereas when por is used, it takes the meaning “because of”.

Why we love it

A final phrase to help you to understand por vs para.

48

Acaba de llegar

He/she/it has just arrived

Construction

Acabar de (note the de) means “to have just…”, and is followed by the verb in the infinitive. In this case acaba de llegar: “he/she/it has just arrived” (llegar: To arrive).

Why we love it

“Acabar de” is a very common and useful construction, which is used to indicate that something has just happened – an indispensable verb to have in your toolbox.

49

No te preocupes

Don’t worry

Construction

The verb in this sentence is preocuparse, meaning “to worry”. It’s been conjugated for , and is a negative command, which has its own conjugations. We won’t go into detail on these now, but you’ll meet these kinds of phrases often.

Why we love it

When you use a command in a negative sense, you’re actually using the verb in the subjunctive. You’ll hear this phrase all the time!

50

¡No te vayas!

Don’t go!

Construction

This also uses a negative command, and is a common one you’ll hear. Vayas comes from the verb Ir, which is completely irregular…

Why we love it

Another very common phrase using a negative command.

51

Estoy muy aburrido

I’m very bored

Construction

This is a typical structure:

Estar + Intensifier + Adjective

Estoy muy aburrido

“I am very bored”

Remember that the o from aburrido indicates a male speaking. For a feminine ending, this would be aburrida.

Why we love it

Emotions use the verb estar, meaning “to be”. We’ve met this before – remember that to express emotions, use estar rather than ser.

52

Es muy aburrido

It’s very boring

Construction

This phrase uses exactly the same structure as the previous phrase, switching from estar to ser.

Why we love it

By switching from estar to ser, we change the meaning of this sentence. Ser indicates the quality, or essence of something – in this case, we’re saying that something is very boring.

53

Solo un poquito

Just a little bit

Construction

Solo means “just”, and poquito comes from poco, meaning “a little”. Notice the changing of the ending – ito is a diminutive ending, which adds affection and informality to whatever you are saying.

Why we love it

You’ll hear the ito ending everywhere, this is known as the “diminutive”. This can even be expanded to itito, although that’s really exaggerated!

54

Al contrario

On the contrary

Construction

Contrario is a cognate (ie, word which shares the same root) with “contrary”, so should be easy enough to learn.

Why we love it

Although the English translation “on the contrary” perhaps sounds a little dated and formal, this Spanish phrase is far more frequently heard, and is particularly useful when disagreeing with someone.

55

Por otro lado

On the other hand

Construction

Lado means “side”, so this phrase literally translates to “on the other side”, with the meaning “on the other hand” (ie, presenting a differing viewpoint).

Why we love it

Related to al contrario, this is another way of presenting the other side of an argument.

56

(Estoy) de acuerdo

I agree

Construction

Saying “I agree” is a little different in Spanish. This is the most common way, often shortened to de acuerdo, meaning “ok”.

Why we love it

Saying “I agree” is a little different in Spanish. This is the most common way, often shortened to de acuerdo, meaning “ok”.

57

¿Qué harías?

What would you do?

Construction

The “conditional”, meaning “would”, is formed by adding an “ía” ending before the end of the conjugated verb, for example:

Comer: To eat (infinitive)

Comes: You eat (informal)

Comerías: You (informal) would eat

With hacer, however, it’s slightly irregular. You’ll just have to memorise this for now!

Why we love it

This is a good phrase to remember to help you start getting your head around conditional endings, and is, of course, incredibly useful as a question!

58

Yo no podría

I couldn’t

Construction

Podría comes from the verb poder, meaning “to be able”, also in the conditional. This gives it the meaning of “could” (“could” = “would” + “be able to”). Note that the yo is often dropped in every day conversation.

Why we love it

Another phrase to help you get to grips with the conditional, and poder is also slightly irregular here, meaning that this phrase should be memorised.

59

Todos los días

Every day

Construction

Todos: All

Los: The

Días: Days

See “why we love it” for a little more explanation.

Why we love it

As you can see, when a noun is in the plural, the adjectives, articles (los) and determiners (todos) have to also be plural, as well as in the same gender. In this case, días is a plural, masculine noun, despite ending with a!

60

¿Cada cuánto?

How often?

Construction

Cada: Every/each

Cuánto: How much/many

Why we love it

This is a super easy way of saying “how often”, which literally means “every how much”.

61

Al día siguiente

The next/following day

Construction

Siguiente is an adjective, meaning “following”. As it ends in e, it doesn’t change based on the noun’s gender. Remember, día is a masculine noun, despite ending in a.

Why we love it

It’s always useful to have a number of Spanish time phrases in your pocket, and this one’s particularly useful, especially when it comes to relating stories/incidents.

62

Cada día

Every day

Construction

This has a very simple construction:

Cada: “Every”

Día: “Day”

Why we love it

Although this is a useful phrase, we also like it because it helps to emphasise a certain aspect of pronunciation which English speakers often get wrong: the soft “d”. Listen to the “d” sounds in the recording – these are much softer than English “d” sounds, and are almost like a “th” sound. Practise this phrase, and listen to your own “d” sound in other words.

63

La semana que viene

Next week

Construction

La semana que viene literally translates as “the week that comes”, meaning “next week”. Viene comes from venir, “to come”.

Why we love it

This is a different way of expressing “next week” than we might expect (“next week” would be la próxima semana), and is the standard way to refer to “next week”, so a good one to learn now.

64

¿Qué hora es?

What time is it?

Construction

This literally translates as “what hour is it” (hora meaning “hour”).

Why we love it

Although we have a whole podcast dedicated to telling the time in Spanish, this is a basic question that you need to master.

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