You’ve booked your ticket.
Your bags are packed.
You can’t wait to begin your journey to a Spanish-speaking country.
Now there’s a simple thing you can do that can have a BIG impact on your trip.
Learn some Spanish!
Your trip will be so much more fun and meaningful if you can communicate with locals.
Now, here are the bare essentials, the most common survival Spanish travel phrases that will set you up to get your point across.
56 Useful Spanish Travel Phrases Every Traveler Should Learn
Spanish-speaking countries are very polite societies and you must always be courteous and say “hello” and “how are you?”. And don’t worry about making mistakes. They will try their utmost to understand you and to make sure you understand them. Just try your best and they will be so happy with your effort.
Good morning – Buenos días (bway nos dee ahs)
Good afternoon – Buenas tardes (bway nahs tar days)
Good evening – Buenas noches (bway nahs noh chayss)
Hola (oh lah) is “hi” and you can say that with people you know.
¿Cómo está? (coh moh es tah) is “how are you?” if you don’t know someone and ¿Cómo estás? (coh moh es tahs) if you do know them.
If they ask you how you are, you can say “good, thank you” – “bien, gracias” (bee ayn, grah cee ahs) because you, too, are a polite person.
Don’t ever forget: Please – Por favor (por fah vohr) – and Thank you – Gracias (grah cee ahs). These are VERY IMPORTANT words in Spanish.
When you are introduced to someone, you say “Mucho gusto” (moo choh goos toh) and they will say the same thing back to you. It means, “nice to meet you.”
¿Habla inglés? (ahblah een glays)? – Do you speak English? While it is never correct to assume that someone speaks English, you can ask if they do and they will like you so much better for asking in Spanish.
Be sure to check out this post if you want to learn more useful Spanish greetings.
Basic vocabulary for many uses
You can go far with some very easy-to-remember words and phrases. You can always use “I want,” “I like,” “Do you have…?” and if you don’t know the noun, you can simply point at the object.
I want, I don’t want – Yo quiero, yo no quiero (yoh kee ayr oh, yoh noh kee ayr oh)
I would like (more polite) – Me gustaría (may goo stah ree ah)
Where is – ¿Dónde está? (dohn des tah)
How much does it cost – ¿Cuánto cuesta? (cwahn toh cways tah)?
What time is it? – ¿Qué hora es? (kay orah ess)?
Do you have? – ¿Tiene? (tee ayn ay)?
I have, I don’t have – Yo tengo, yo no tengo (yoh tayn goh, yoh noh tayn goh)
I understand, I don’t understand – Yo entiendo, yo no entiendo (yoh ayn tee ayn doh, yoh noh ayn tee ayn doh)
Do you understand? – ¿Entiende? (ayn tee ayn day)?
FluentU is a great tool to master essential but versatile phrases like these, since it teaches you new vocabulary in real-world contexts. FluentU provides authentic Spanish videos, like movie trailers, music videos, inspiring talks and more, that’ve been transformed into a language learning experience.
Each video comes with interactive captions–just click any unfamiliar word and you’ll get an instant definition, translation and native pronunciation. Better yet, FluentU will also show you other videos with the word so you understand how native speakers use it in different contexts.
The videos are organized by genre and learning level. FluentU remembers what you’ve watched and suggests other videos based on that information, so your learning is personalized and highly relevant to you. Don’t forget to pack a FluentU free trial before your trip!
Simple Verbs: Where is, I want and I need!
You can say a lot of things with very simple verbs. I want a hotel, I want a taxi, I need pesos. Where is the train station? The bathroom? The airport? The fact of the matter is that you can say a lot using” I want,” “I need,” “I can,” “I may,” or “where is,” and then you just need to supply a noun. It may not be the sophisticated way you speak in English, but you will be understood.
I want a ticket, a hotel, a taxi – Yo quiero un boleto, un hotel, un taxi (yoh kee ayr oh oon boh lay toh, oon oh tayl, oon tahk see)
Directions: How do I get there from here?
If you get a bit lost or unsure of how to get somewhere, you need some simple ways of finding how to find your way. “Where is” is the simplest way of asking. The phrase is “¿dónde está?” (dohn des tah) and here are some examples:
Where is the bus train station (or bus station) – ¿Dónde está la estación de ferrocarril? (dohn des tah la ays ta see ohn day fay roh cahrreel) or “autobuses” (ow toe boos ehs).
Where is a restaurant? – ¿Dónde hay un restaurante? (dohn day eye oon rays tore rahn tay)?
A train? – ¿Un tren? (oon trayn)?
The street … ? – ¿La calle … ? (lah cah yay)?
A bank? – ¿Un banco? (oon bahn coh)?
Where is the bathroom? – ¿Dónde está el baño? – (dohn days tah el ban yoh)?
I’m looking for a hotel – Busco un hotel(yoh kee ayr oh oon oh tel)
I need – Yo necesito (yoh nay say see toh). Very useful, and you can supply the noun.
Yo necesito un hotel / un cuarto / un cuarto con baño – (yoh nay say see toh oon oh tayl, oon cwar toh, oon cwar toh cohn ban yoh)
Where is the exchange? ; Where is a bank? – ¿Dónde hay una casa de cambio? (dohn days tah oon ah cah sah day cahm bee oh) ;
¿Dónde está el banco?(dohn days tah ayl bahn coh)?
Money – Dinero (dee nayr oh).
Understanding their directions
Once you have asked a question, someone will answer you in Spanish. Here are some simple directions that someone may give you, to turn right, to turn left, or to go straight ahead. Listen for these key words:
Right – A la derecha ( a lah day ray chah)
Left – A la izquierda (ah lah eez kee ayr dah)
Straight ahead – Derecho (Day ray choh)
At the corner – En la esquina (a lah ays kee nah)
In one, two, three, four blocks – A una cuadra, a dos, tres, cuatro cuadras – (a oona dohss, trayss, cwah troh cwah drahs)
At a restaurant — What do you want to eat or drink?
Probably the most useful phrases you will need are in a restaurant. Ask for anything by using “quiero” (kee ayr oh) or “quisiera” (kee see ayr oh) – “I want” or “I would like.” And remember to say “por favor” and “gracias”!
A table – Una mesa (oona may sah)
A table for two, three, four – Una mesa para dos tres, cuatro (oona may sah pah rah dohss, trays, kwah troh)
A menu – Un menú (oon may noo)
Soup – Sopa (soh pah)
Salad – Ensalada(ayn sah lah dah)
Hamburger (Another necessity!) – Hamburguesa (ahm boor gay sah)
With ketchup, mustard, tomato, lettuce – Con salsa de tomate, mostaza, tomate, lechuga – ( cohn sahl sah day toh mah tay, mohs tah sah, toh mah tay, lay choo gah)
An appetizer – Una entrada (oona ayn trah dah)
Dessert – Un postre (oon pohs tray)
A drink – Una bebida (oona bay bee dah)
Water – Agua (ah gwah)
Red wine, white whine – Vino tinto (vee noh teen toh), vino blanco (vee noh blahn coh)
Beer – Cerveza (sayr vay sah)
Coffee – Un café (oon cah fay)
Calling a waiter or waitress – ¡Señor! or ¡Señorita! (say nyor, say nyor eetah)
The check – La cuenta (lah cwayn tah)
Credit cards. Many places in smaller towns still do not take credit cards so make sure you have enough cash with you. You can ask if you can use a credit card – una tarjeta de credito (oonah tar hey tah day cray dee toh).
If you have questions, you can always use a noun with a question. For example, you can pull out your credit card and say: ¿Tarjeta de credito? They will understand.
An all-purpose word: No funciona (noh foonk see oh nah) – It doesn’t work! You can use this for a million circumstances! Just point at the shower or whatever and say “¡No funciona!”
Practice saying everything aloud so that you will (1) remember some of the phrases without looking, and (2) learn how to say these phrases relatively quickly and smoothly. Just hearing them spoken aloud will also help in your comprehension when people are speaking to you.
Take a small pocket dictionary with you. While you don’t want to try to look up verb declensions in the middle of talking with someone, you can look up nouns quickly. Collins has a great dictionary measuring 3” x 4” and it has some more travel vocabulary as well.
Better yet, take a phrasebook. There are tons of incredible phrasebooks (some that are partially travel guides) offered by Lonely Planetwhich are perfect for traveling and pulling out at a moment’s notice. This way, if you ever forget one of your most important travel phrases, you’ll be able to remind yourself. And if you find a regional Spanish phrasebook that focuses on your travel destination, you’ll find even more useful phrases that locals love to use.
Learning to count
Counting – it is good if you can spend a half hour or hour learning some basic numbers. It really is just some simple memorization and you can find numbers in any book on Spanish or on the Internet. But, if all else fails, pull out a pen and paper and write down the number you want and encourage the other person to do the same.
And One More Thing…
If you like learning authentic Spanish lessons like these, ones that actually will help you survive out in the Spanish-speaking world, then you’ll love FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos like music videos, commercials, news, and inspiring talks and turns them into Spanish learning experiences.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos—topics like soccer, TV shows, business, movies and even magical realism, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s Learn Mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU App from the iTunes store. The Android app is coming soon!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.
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In order to do well on the AP Spanish exam’sfree-response section, you must be able to write a persuasive essay based on three Spanish-language sources.
Are you up to the task?
After years of elementary, middle and high school Spanish, the time has come—you’re getting ready to tackle the AP Spanish exam.
You can conjugate any irregular verb you see. You’ve got conditionals down pat. And your vocabulary is out of this world.
But can you form a coherent argument… in Spanish?
Here we’ve put together a list of 40 vocabulary words that will come in handy for making and supporting arguments in your AP Spanish essays, and in any other piece of Spanish writing!
What’s the AP Spanish Free-response Section Like?
The free-response section of the exam is meant to test your ability to communicate with others in spoken and written Spanish.
There are two essays in the free-response section. The interpersonal essay asks you to respond to an email. The presentational essay tests how well you can draw information from Spanish-language sources, form an argument and write formally. This second essay is a little less straightforward, so we’ll walk you through it here.
So, how does it work?
The presentational essay is based on three sources. Two of them are written sources and one is an audio source.
These sources can be just about anything: Advertisements, articles, infographics, letters, maps, interviews, radio programs, podcasts and conversations are just some examples of the types of sources you may encounter.
You’ll have about 55 minutes to complete this particular essay. First, you’ll have six minutes to read the prompt and the two written sources, and then you’ll hear the audio source twice. Finally, you’ll have 40 minutes to plan and write your essay.
The essay is graded on the basis of Spanish language skills like reading, listening, writing and grammar—but it’s also based on your general ability to analyze the sources and make a strong, coherent argument.
How to Prepare for the Free-response Section
In many ways, preparing for the free-response section is the same as preparing for the rest of the AP exam.
It involves studying grammar and vocabulary, and it also means immersing yourself in the Spanish language as much as possible. The more exposure you have to Spanish-language sources leading up to the exam day, the easier it’ll be for you to understand and analyze the three sources you encounter in the presentational essay task.
Seeking out native Spanish sources is easy, and FluentU has got you covered. Here, you can find info on great news outlets, podcasts, YouTube channels and blogs—all in Spanish. Even following some Spanish Twitter feeds or listening to Spanish music can be a great way to work a little language practice into your day.
There are also some targeted ways to practice for the free-response section.
- Do practice exams and read sample essays.The College Board has posted the full AP exams from the last several years. Try to read the sources and write the essay in the allotted 55 minutes. When you’re done, go back and slowly revise your essay for errors in grammar, spelling and logic. After that, you can also check out the grading rubric provided by the College Board and several sample persuasive essays. Try to compare your essay against the rubric and the samples to see how you can improve your writing.
- Practice summarizing and analyzing Spanish-language sources. Remember all those great resources listed above? Well, it’s not enough to just read or listen to them. The whole point of the presentational essay is to measure your ability to summarize, synthesize and argue. So, after you read or listen to a Spanish-language source, take five minutes to summarize it—on paper. Identify the main argument, and then make a bulleted list of important points. Finally, write a few sentences summarizing your personal opinion.
- Learn targeted vocabulary for talking about opinions and arguments. Is there anything more frustrating than knowing exactly what you want to say, but not having the vocabulary to say it? This article lists many crucial vocabulary words for expressing and supporting opinions in persuasive essays. Using these words and phrases will make your writing flow more smoothly—and they’ll allow you to argue with more credibility and style.
40 Persuasive Vocabulary Words for Writing Strong AP Spanish Essays
Agreeing and Disagreeing
Estoy de acuerdo/No estoy de acuerdo — I agree/I disagree
Estoy de acuerdo con lo que dice el autor. (I agree with what the author says.)
No estoy de acuerdo con la idea principal de la fuente número dos. (I disagree with the main idea of source number two.)
En mi opinión — In my opinion
En mi opinión, los jóvenes deberían comer más sano. (In my opinion, young people should eat healthier.)
La verdad es— The truth is
La verdad es que todavía hay mucha desigualdad en los Estados Unidos. (The truth is there is still a lot of inequality in the United States.)
Es verdad — It’s true
Es verdad que las redes sociales pueden ser peligrosas. (It’s true that social media can be dangerous.)
Es falso—It’s false
Hay gente que dice que las redes sociales son peligrosas, pero esto es falso. (There are people who say that social media is dangerous, but this is false.)
Me parece/No me parece—It seems to me/It doesn’t seem to me
Me parece bien que los niños asistan a colegios bilingües. (I think it’s a good idea that children attend bilingual schools.)
No me parece bien que los niños asistan a colegios bilingües. (I don’t think it’s a good idea that children attend bilingual schools.)
Remember that since me parece implies an opinion or emotion, you must conjugate the verb in the subjunctive tense.
(Yo) pienso que—I think that
Yo pienso que no hay nada más importante que la familia. (I think that there is nothing more important than family.)
(Yo) creo que — I believe that
Yo creo que todos los adolescentes deberían aprender a tocar un instrumento. (I believe that all adolescents should learn to play an instrument.)
Stating an Opinion
The following phrases all have the same structure: Es + adjective + que.
This structure is similar to the English “It’s [adjective] that…” and is great for expressing and supporting opinions in a strong and confident manner. Here are some phrases that are especially useful when making and defending claims in a persuasive essay:
Es evidente que—It’s evident that
Es claro que—It’s clear that
Es cierto que —It’s certain that
Es obvio que— It’s obvious that
Es importante que — It’s important that
Es necesario que— It’s necessary that
Es probable que—It’s probable that
Es dudoso que — It’s doubtful that
For some of these phrases, the verb following the word que must be conjugated in the indicative, while others require the subjunctive. A good rule of thumb is that when implying that something is certain, use the indicative. When expressing doubt or expressing some other emotion, use the subjunctive.
On this list, evidente, claro, cierto and obvio use indicative verbs, and importante, necesario, probable and dudoso use subjunctive verbs.
Es cierto que nuestro clima está cambiando. (It is certain that our climate is changing.)
Es importante que la gente sepa hablar más de un idioma. (It’s important that people know how to speak more than one language.)
Supporting an Opinion
These words will help you refer to your three sources, which contain information that will help you support your argument. This section also contains transition words to connect one part of your argument to the next.
Según— According to
Según el autor… (according to the author…)
La fuente —The source
Según la fuente numero 1… (According to source number one…)
El tema—The theme/topic
Esto es un tema muy importante. (This is a very important topic.)
La fuente muestra la importancia de la diversidad. (The source shows the importance of diversity.)
Remember, mostrar is an o-ue stem-changing verb—pay attention to conjugation!
La tabla demuestra que muchos jóvenes en España juegan al fútbol. (The table demonstrates that many youths in Spain play football.)
Demostrar is also an o-ue stem changing verb. Luckily for you, it follows the exact same conjugation rules as mostrar!
La tabla indica que hay muchas familias pobres en ese barrio. (The table indicates that there are many poor families in that neighborhood.)
Estos datos apoyan la idea de que el clima está cambiando. (This data supports the idea that the climate is changing)
Por otra parte— On the other hand
Es importante que la economía crezca, pero por otra parte, tenemos que cuidar el medio ambiente. (It’s important that the economy grows, but on the other hand, we have to care for the environment.)
Por lo cual—For this reason/That’s why/Which is why
This phrase is used in the middle of a sentence to connect ideas.
La Amazonía tiene un alto nivel de biodiversidad, por lo cual la conservación de esta región debe ser una prioridad. (The Amazon has a high level of biodiversity, which is why the conservation of this region must be a priority.)
Además — Additionally
This word is usually seen at the beginning of a sentence, and it’s useful for transitioning from one idea or argument to another.
Además, es evidente que la tecnología nos ayuda mucho. (Additionally, it’s evident that technology helps us a lot.)
This is another good transition word. In your essay, you may want to present an alternate argument and then explain why you disagree with it. Sin embargo is very helpful for this.
Obviamente, estudiar es muy importante. Sin embargo, es necesario que los adolescentes tengan tiempo para jugar con sus amigos. (Obviously, studying is very important. However, it’s necessary that teenagers have time to play with their friends.)
En comparación —In comparison
En comparación, la fuente número 2 indica que hay más obesidad en Estados Unidos que en España. (In comparison, source number 2 indicates that there is more obesity in the United States than in Spain.)
Al igual que —Just like
Al igual que en los años 40, hoy en día hay mucha gente que no quiere ayudar a los refugiados de guerra. (Just like in the 40s, today there are many people who don’t want to help war refugees.)
Tanto ________ como ________ — _________ as well as ___________
Fill in this phrase with two nouns to emphasize that you’re talking equally about two different things.
Tanto chicos como chicas deberían aprender a cocinar, limpiar, coser y cuidar a los bebés. (Boys as well as girls ought to learn how to cook, clean, sew and care for babies.)
Remember that Spanish has two translations for the English word “but.” The word sino is like the English phrase “but rather,” used to introduce an alternative.
Leer no es una pérdida de tiempo, sino una manera de aprender y de conocer otras culturas. (Reading isn’t a waste of time, but rather a way to learn and understand other cultures.)
Sin duda— Without a doubt
Sin duda, el cambio climático es el problema más grave que enfrenta nuestra planeta. (Without a doubt, climate change is the most serious problem that our planet faces.)
Aunque— Even though/Although
Aunque is followed by an indicative verb when the outcome is known, but a subjunctive verb when the outcome is speculative.
Aunque cuesta mucho dinero, tenemos que buscar una solución. (Even though it costs a lot of money, we have to search for a solution.)
Aunque cueste mucho dinero, tenemos que buscar una solución. (Even though it may cost a lot of money, we have to search for a solution.)
Concluding Your Essay
In your final paragraph, you’ll want to provide a summary of your main argument and your main supporting points. You can use the following helpful phrases:
En conclusión—In conclusion
En resumen—In summary
En conclusión,/En resumen,/En fin, las tres fuentes muestran que la contaminación del aire es un problema muy grave para todo el mundo. (In summary, the three sources show that air pollution is a very serious problem for the whole world.)
After summarizing your essay, you’ll want to re-state your main argument in a succinct, strongly-worded sentence. Start with these phrases:
Por estas razones—For these reasons
Por eso — That is why
Entonces — So
Por estas razones,/Por eso,/Así que/Entonces, afirmo que los adolescentes no deberían usar las redes sociales. (For these reasons, I affirm that teenagers should not use social media.)
Learn and study these words—they’ll help you express yourself more fluidly in your AP Spanish essays.
But, of course, learning vocabulary is just one way to prepare for the free-response section.
Remember to expose yourself to as many Spanish-language sources as you can before test day, and don’t forget to think critically about those sources as you read them!
With practice, writing strong essays for the AP Spanish exam will be a breeze.
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