95 Spanish Phrases

Beginners Spanish phrases: Part two

Rob Ashby

Rob Ashby

The Spanish Obsessive

Welcome to the second set of phrases from our beginners Spanish phrases mini-series. You can test yourself using the quiz at the bottom of this article.

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22

¿Cómo se dice?

How do you say?

Construction

Cómo means “how”, and dice comes from decir, meaning “to say”. The se is known as the passive se, making this phrase passive (vs active). Compare a passive phrase:
¿Cómo se dice?
How is it said?
With an active phrase:
¿Cómo dices?
How do you say?
More about the passive se

Why we love it

You can use this phrase when you start out learning Spanish, and either point, hold up objects, or use an English word or phrase to ask for a translation.

23

¿Cómo se escribe?

How do you write?

Construction

This phrase uses the passive se again, this time with escribir, “to write”.

Why we love it

Use when you can’t understand someone, or need the spelling. This is a common way of asking someone to write something down or ask for the spelling.

24

Puedes repetirlo, por favor

Can you repeat it, please

Construction

Puedes comes from poder, meaning “to be able”, in this case conjugated for tú. Repetir means “to repeat”, and lo means “it”. You can use puedes in this useful construction:
Puede(s) + Verb in infinitive
“Can you” + verb

Why we love it

The same concept here, but because tarde is feminine, buenas uses a feminine ending.

25

¿Te importa hablar más despacio?

Do you mind speaking more slowly?

Construction

Importa comes from the verb importar, literally meaning “to matter”. A very common use of this is te/le importa + verb in infinitive, meaning “would you mind”. Use te for the informal , and le for the formal usted.
Hablar means “to talk”, and más
despacio
, “more slowly”.

Why we love it

Te importa is another useful phrase for asking someone to do something, offering another option from puedes.

26

Otra vez, por favor

Another time/again, please

Construction

Vez means “time” (ie, “a time”), and is feminine, so uses la or una. Otro means “another”, and the ending is changed to feminine: otra.

Why we love it

A shorter way of asking someone to repeat themselves, or this could be used to get someone to do something again.

27

No entiendo

I don’t understand

Construction

Entiendo comes from the verb entender, meaning “to understand”. It’s been conjugated for yo, and notice the additional i: Entiendo. This is called a “stem-changing verb”, where some verbs have additional sounds/letters in the stem (the part of the verb before the ending). There are various types of stem-changing verb, and you’ll come across them quite regularly.

Why we love it

Here’s a phrase you’ll certainly use all the time! You’ll find yourself relying on this from time to time…

28

¡Perdóname!

Excuse me!

Construction

This comes from perdonar, meaning “to parden”. The form you see it in here is known as the “imperative”, which is used for commands and exclamations such as this.

Why we love it

This is an expression you will use and hear all the time, and is also a good way to remember the imperative, command form.

29

¿Cuánto es?

How much is it?

Construction

Cuánto meaning “how much/many”, and es from the verb ser. Note the rising intonation to indicate a question.

Why we love it

This is a basic way of asking price, which you could pretty much use 100% of the time if you wanted.

30

Es muy caro/costoso

It’s very expensive

Construction

This is a classic structure:

Ser + Modifier + Adjective

Es + muy + caro/costoso

This is a construction that you can use to describe things – using the verb ser, a modifier (such as muy, or un poco), and an adjective. Make sure the adjective matches the noun in both gender and number.

Why we love it

Having asked for the price, you then will need to give your opinion of it! “Caro” is used in Spain; “costoso” more so in Latin America. However, both words would be understood in either country.

31

Es barato

It’s cheap

Construction

This phrase uses exactly the same structure as the previous one, without the modifier. Barato is understood universally to mean “cheap”.

Why we love it

Apart from being a super useful phrase, barato is a useful adjective, which is understood all around the Spanish speaking world.

32

Me pones X

Can I have X (Spain only!)

Construction

The literal translation sounds a little strange: “You put me X”. However, this effectively translates to “can I have”, or “could you bring me”, when ordering in a restaurant or bar. Be aware, though, that this is only used in Spain! In other Latin American countries, you would get a strange look if you used this phrase to order.

Why we love it

This verb phrase is used incredibly often in Spain to order at a bar, cafe, or restaurant. In Latin America, it can sound a little curt, so only use in Spain!

33

Me regalas X

Can I have X (Used in Latin America)

Construction

This is the same construction as the last phrase, in this case using the verb regalar, “to gift”. It’s used more in Colombia and understood throughout Latin America, and is a polite, low risk alternative to me pones.

Why we love it

When in doubt, be polite! You can use this phrase without fear of being seen as rude (although you would get away with me pones in most circumstances). If still in doubt, the reality is that most native speakers don’t even bother with me pones, me regalas, or anything like that. You can just say what you want, with por favor: Dos cervezas, por favor.

It’s unlikely that the waiter will be the person you’ll be practising your Spanish with anyway, so as long as you get what you ordered, job done!

34

Quiero tomar un café

I want to have a coffee

Construction

You can use quiero + verb in infinitive, and in this case we are using a very common verb in tomar, meaning “to have/drink”.

Why we love it

You wouldn’t necessarily use this to order at a cafe, but is more to say that you want something. Querer + “verb in infinitive” is another easy, useful set phrase to remember.

35

Quiero tomar el bus

I want to take the bus

Construction

This uses the same construction as the last phrase. Notice how tomar changes its meaning, depending on the context.

Why we love it

The same construction, but this time tomar is used with the meaning “to take”. Tomar is a highly versatile verb, whose meaning can change depending on the context. In the previous phrase, it meant “to drink”, and in this phrase, “to take”.

36

¿Qué tiempo hace?

How’s the weather?

Construction

Qué is a question word meaning “what”, and the verb used is hacer, literally “to do” – this is one of the key things to remember with weather! Tiempo translates as both “weather” and “time”.

Why we love it

With the weather, the key verb you’ll often hear is hacer – “what’s the weather doing”

37

Hace sol

It’s sunny

Construction

One of the simplest phrases! Sol is “sun”, and we use the verb hacer.

Why we love it

Using the verb “hacer” with the weather again!

38

Hace calor/frio

It’s hot/cold

Construction

Construction

Frio: “Cold”

Calor: “Hot”

Both of these use hacer, conjugated to hace.

Why we love it

When talking about the temperature, we also use the verb hacer.

39

Está lloviendo

It’s raining

Construction

The verb is llover. We’re using it with estar: Está lloviendo. This is known as the present continuous tense, which in English is our “-ing” ending, indicating that something is or was in progress: “It’s raining”.

Why we love it

Just to confuse things, you can’t say *hace lluvia. With rain, we need to say está lloviendo, or you could simply say llueve (literally, “it rains”).

40

¡Lo sabía!

I knew it!

Construction

Sabía comes from the verb saber, meaning “to know”. It’s been conjugated in the imperfect form, for yo. The imperfect is used for repeated, or habitual actions in the past, and is one of two past simple tenses (the other being the “preterite”).

Why we love it

This verb is in the imperfect form, meaning that it was an ongoing action in the past. To have known or not known something is an ongoing action, which is why most past forms of saber use the imperfect.

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