Can you learn Spanish in 20 minutes? Well no, that’s probably a bit ambitious, but there are hundreds of Spanish students coming through Buenos Aires each month, each with different reasons for wanting to learn Spanish. Whether it be a new job, boyfriend or just wanting a new experience. Some students are intent on learning the language to the point of fluency, a commitment heavy, time consuming but ultimately rewarding prospect.
Others however, just want to be able to get by, be able to order a coffee, ask directions and maybe stretch to having the odd chat to the locals. And there’s no doubt that putting in a bit of effort to learn a small amount Spanish will reap rewards and experiences that far outweigh the small amount of time and effort invested.
So, in order to meet the needs of the latter, we’ve asked our friends at Expanish to send us a sample of what they developed; The Ultimate Spanish Crash Course (a short course of individual two hour modules designed for those people who want to learn the basics of Spanish, in a short space of time).
Use this list of key words and phrases to kick start your Spanish before or during your visit to Buenos Aires. We hope you enjoy and that it comes in handy!
To start off, try to spend five minutes familiarizing yourself with the below words as they are some of the most commonly used and basic words in Spanish:
Si – Yes
No – No
Hola – Hello
Adios – Goodbye
Por favor – Please
Gracias – Thank you
Pero – But
Y – And
Bien – Good
Malo – Bad
Como – How
Que – What, which
Algo – Something
Alguien – Someone
Muy – Very
Mucho – A lot
Un poco – A bit
Grande – Big
Pequeña – Small
Quiero – I want
Tengo – I have
Note: The below words can be used as statements or questions dependent on the intonation. E.g. Tienes? / You have? posed as a question, takes on the meaning ‘Do you have?
Tienes – You have / Tienes? – Do you have?
Quieres – You want / Quieres? – Do you want?
Puedo – I can / Puedo? – Can I?
Puedes – You can / Puedes? – Can you?
Es / Esta – It is (A complex area that we won’t go into too much at this stage, usually, ‘Es‘ is used for permanent characteristics e.g. colors, and ‘Esta‘ for temporary states e.g. feeling tired)
First things first
Now we can begin putting the words together to make some basic sentences. First off, it’s likely you’ll need to make it clear what level of Spanish you’re at. Always a good ice breaker and should prevent any awkward situations later…
Hablo un poco de espanol – I speak a bit of Spanish
Pero no mucho – But not much
Hablas despacio por favor – Speak slowly please
You’ve made it clear your Spanish is basic, but this is unlikely to stop your conversation partner from delving a bit deeper. One of the first things you might be asked is where you’re from (note: Argentineans say ‘donde sos,’ instead of the usual ‘donde eres‘ )
De donde eres? De donde sos? – Where are you from?
Soy de…. – I’m from….
Me llamo... – My name is….
Como te llamas? – What is your name?
Como estas? / Que tal? / Como andas? – How are you?
Bien gracias – Good thank you
As a traveler in Buenos Aires, you’re bound to do a bit of shopping, whether you’re browsing the boutiques of Palermo or the markets of San Telmo, you’re likely to need some of the following phrases:
Puedo ayudarte? – Can i help you?
Solo mirando gracias – Just looking thank you
Cuanto sale? / Cuanto vale / Cuanto cobra / Cuanto es? – How much?
Puedes probarlo? – Can I try it?
Tienes mi tamaño? – Do you have my size?
Tienes cambio? – Do you have change?
No tengo cambio / Si, tengo cambio – I don’t have change / Yes, I have change
In restaurants and cafes
When spending time in restaurants and cafes in Argentina, be prepared for a different experience to elsewhere. You will notice the service is more relaxed…
Puedo ver la carta por favor? – Can i see the menu please?
Me puede traer? – Can you bring me?
Te pido …. .por favor? – Can i order…..please?
Esto no es lo que pedi – This isn’t what i ordered
Yo pedí – I ordered
La cuenta por favor – The bill please
Se puede pagar con tarjeta? – Is it possible to pay by card?
No, solo effectivo – No only cash
Buenos Aires isn’t always the easiest place to navigate, from the narrow crowded streets of Microcentro, the cobbled, crumbling streets of San Telmo to the wide avenues of Libertador, you’re likely to get lost at some stage and not all of the streets have road names and signs posted. In order to try and decipher the directions you get given, the trick is to pick up on the key words:
Disculpe, ¿cómo voy a…? – Pardon, how do i get to?
Me puede repetir, por favor – Can you repeat that to me please
Está (muy) lejos? / ¿Está cerca? – Is it (very) far? / Is it close?
A la izquierda/derecha, doblar – To the left/right, to turn…
Todo recto – Straight on
A la vuelta – Around the corner
Now if you are hungry for more basics check out The Ultimate Spanish Crash Course that Expanish created. It’s dynamic, fun and interactive with the intention of building the student’s confidence and giving them the basic tools to begin speaking Spanish in a short space of time.