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How to Introduce Yourself in Spanish

Quite honestly, introducing yourself in Spanish while in the vast majority of Spanish-speaking cultures, is quite the same as introductions in English-speaking ones.

That is, you start with a greeting (“Hi!”), you state your name (“I’m XXX”), you say a few cordial words (“Nice to meet you!”), and then you go back and forth with the other person making the usual chit-chat about where you come from, what you do, why you’re at that particular place at that particular time, etc.

Of course, as in English, this can vary a lot depending on whether you’re meeting someone your own age, someone older, someone younger, someone you work with, or someone you’re related to, so we’ll try to cover every one of those. That way you’ll be prepared to rock your next adventure in the Spanish-speaking society of your choice with helpful situational Spanish phrases.

Further, since they’re all, for the most part, in Latin cultures, Spanish-speakers enjoy physical contact when meeting someone. This can easily be one of the most common sources of awkwardness when first greeting people in Spanish, so we’ll talk about that as well.

In other words, this article will show you what to say, how to say it, and whether it’s okay to shake hands, hug, or kiss.

Table of Contents

  1. The First Meeting: Do’s and Don’ts of Physical Contact
  2. Introducing Yourself in Spanish
  3. Introducing Yourself – Informal
  4. Introducing Yourself – Formal
  5. Talking about Your Background
  6. It’s Okay to Fail
  7. How Can SpanishPod101 Help You Learn Other Ways To Introduce Yourself in Spanish?

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1. The First Meeting: Do’s And Don’ts of Physical Contact

Oh boy, you’re meeting someone new in a Spanish-speaking country. Here’s a quick guide to physical contact, with some pointers on how to greet in Spanish:

As a general tip, try to be very alert and see what the other person does before you do anything, then just react to that. You know that old adage: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

1- Man Greeting a Man

Now, if you’re a man saying hi to another man, that’s easy. Just shake hands! If it’s someone closer, just wait and see if they’re going to hug you in some way. If they do, just try to reciprocate.

But what’s closer? Maybe it’s a really good friend of your buddy’s, a distant cousin you haven’t met, your significant other’s family, etc. In a formal setting, just a nice handshake is good. The usual rules apply: Do a firm shake but not too hard, look the other person in the eyes, and don’t hold their hand for too long.

2- Man Greeting a Woman

If you’re a man saying hi to a woman from a Spanish-speaking culture, chances are it will be okay if you kiss her on the cheek. Most places in Latin America do only one kiss on the right cheek, while in Spain you do two, one on the right then one on the left.

Also, consider that in most cases it’s not actually a kiss. You don’t put your lips right on the other person’s cheek, as that should only be done with someone really close. Rather, you have your cheek meet theirs, and then you make that “kissing” sound, although your lips are pretty much kissing the air.

Now, some people find it too soon and too familiar to kiss on the cheek if you’re a complete stranger. Similar to the hug with a “closer” person, this only applies if it’s truly a more familiar, informal, and close tie. If it’s a business setting, or there was no connection whatsoever before meeting, just do a handshake and you’ll be fine.

3- Woman Greeting a Man

Woman greeting a man? You don’t have to kiss the cheek of anyone you don’t want to. In this case, rather than waiting for him to make the first move, you can just put your hand out and wait for him to shake it, making it clear in your body language that for the time being it’ll be just a handshake.

4- Woman Greeting a Woman

If you’re a woman meeting another woman, it’s pretty much the same thing. Kiss if it’s familiar/informal, stick to a handshake if it’s just too new.

As a final consideration, it’s normal to kiss someone goodbye even if at first you only shook their hand. It means that some familiarity and rapport was developed during your time together, like say, when saying goodbye to somebody that hosted you at the end of the trip. That’s good!

2. Introducing Yourself in Spanish

1- How to Say Hello

Once you’ve passed that potentially awkward moment of physical salutation, or even during, it’s time to say something. As in many countries, it’s an absolute no-brainer. You just say “Hi,” or “Hello,” which is just good ol’ Hola.

To say hello in Spanish, you can add more eloquence to your speech with this phrase:

  • Hola, ¿qué tal? which means “Hi, how’s it going?”.

2- How to Say Your Name in Spanish

After “hi,” you usually just present yourself by stating your name. Just like in English, Spanish-speaking cultures believe that you are your name. Tyler Durden would probably disagree, but I bet he was never in Ecuador. So you just say, Yo soy, which is “I am” followed by the beautiful name your parents gave to you.

3- How to Say “Nice to Meet You” in Spanish

Further, if you want to make your Spanish greeting even nicer, try adding a courtesy phrase, such as the English “Nice to meet you,” or “Pleasure to meet you.” In Spanish, we usually say Mucho gusto or Encantado de conocerte.

Here’s an example of how that looks all together. This is saying hi, saying your name, and even giving a courtesy phrase, all in Spanish. Look at you!

  • Hola, ¿qué tal? Yo soy Javier. *kisses cheek* / *shakes hand* Mucho gusto.
  • Another common option is to replace Yo soy with Me llamo.
  • Hola, ¿qué tal? Me llamo Javier.

That first part works for both formal and informal settings. For speech that’s more specific to each tone, let’s take a look at the other contextual Spanish phrases you use when introducing yourself in Spanish.

3. Introducing Yourself — Informal

Not everything in life is bound by business and strong formalities (thank goodness), so it’ll be nice to know some casual ways to introduce yourself in Spanish.

When meeting people your own age, and especially if it’s in a casual setting (i.e., no business), it’s okay to use the informal tone, which in Spanish is tutear when speaking to the other person.

That is, you’ll refer to them as and conjugate each verb in relation to them in that person.

Following the first sentences we saw above, what should follow? Usually, you’ll ask the person how he or she is. So “How are you?” in Spanish in an informal way is ¿Cómo estás?.

If they ask you first, then you answer (usually), Muy bien, gracias, ¿y tú? which means “I’m fine, thanks, and you?”.

Also, usually when you say your name, people answer with theirs. In case you’ve got a shy person before you, you can ask ¿Cómo te llamas?, which is the informal way of asking “What’s your name?” in Spanish.

What usually follows? Just like in most parts of the world, you may ask the person about their age and nationality. Then, they usually do the same thing. If you’re answering, age is stated in terms of having. In Spanish, nobody is a certain age, but they have a certain number of years in them. The verb “to have” in Spanish is tener, so you say:

  • Tengo XX años, ¿tú? Which means “I’m XX old, and you?”.

When it comes to nationality, Spanish speakers definitely express it in terms of being (ser), but also in terms of where you come from (venir).

  • Yo vengo de Spain, ¿tú de dónde vienes? or Yo soy [nationality] ¿y tú?

To give a full example:

  • Yo vengo de Colombia, ¿tú de dónde vienes? or Yo soy colombiano ¿y tú?

In case you didn’t catch it, those sentences mean, respectively,

  • “I come from Colombia, where are you from?”
  • or, “I’m Colombian, and you?”.

Let’s now look at formal ways to introduce yourself in Spanish.

4. Introducing Yourself – Formal

Pretty much, the only variation here is that you’ll be speaking to the other person in the formal form, which is usted, instead of .

Then the following alterations happen:

¿Cómo estás? turns into ¿Cómo está?. It’s indeed only an “s” away, but it makes all the difference.

As for ¿Cómo te llamas?, that turns into:

  • ¿Cómo se llama?
  • Or, even more formal, ¿Cómo se llama usted?
  • Or the variation, ¿Cuál es su nombre?.

Talking about age, it’s the same thing with the “s” in the verb tener. You ask:

  • ¿Cuántos años tiene?
  • Or ¿Qué edad tiene usted?

Now, an important thing to note here is that it’s usually not polite to ask someone older than you how old they are. If they’re younger than, or around the same age, as you, then you won’t be talking to them in usted in most cases.

As for nationality, ¿tú de dónde vienes? becomes ¿de dónde es usted?.

Not that hard, hey? As another tip, when unsure of whether you should speak to the other person in the formal form or informal, it’s better to start with the formal. If they prefer , they’ll usually let you know by saying something like hablame de ‘tú’, which in some cases, is quite a compliment.

It means that they see you as their equal, respect you enough to talk to you in equal terms, or, depending on the person, that they simply prefer to shun formalities and want to keep things relaxed and casual.

5. Talking about Your Background

The next part of a usual first-encounter conversation includes introducing yourself further by talking about what you do and what you’re doing at that particular place.

The phrases for this in Spanish are the usual, so let’s look at them real quick, starting with talking about your profession in Spanish, or what you’re doing at this point in your life.

  • “I study [field of studies]” : Estudio [área de estudios]
  • “I work in [workfield]” : Trabajo en [rubro laboral]
  • “I’m a [name of profession]” : Soy [nombre de la profesión]

When it comes to what you’re doing there, variations can start to go crazy. But let’s just start with the fact that you’re there, probably doing something. Might be studying, working, or just traveling. Either way, the way you say that in English is very similar to how you’d say it in Spanish:

  • “I’m studying at / I’m studying X” : Estoy estudiando en / Estoy estudiando X
  • “I’m working at / I’m working in” : Estoy trabajando en
  • “I’m traveling” : Estoy viajando

6. It’s Okay to Fail

Now that you’ve read this guide on how to greet in Spanish and have learned some Spanish introductory phrases, it’s important to realize that it’s perfectly normal if you don’t get this exactly right the first time, or the first twenty times!

When you’re learning a new language, and are immersing yourself in a foreign culture (which is one of the best aspects of learning that language), it’s perfectly fine to make an absolute fool of yourself from time to time.

Otherwise how would you learn? Maybe sometimes you’ll get the kissing thing all wrong; maybe you’ll have an awkward moment when hugging another man; maybe you’ll freeze when the time to present yourself to a stranger in Spanish finally comes.

Whatever it is, it’s all about practice. The fact that you’re taking the time to read this already says a lot about your commitment to reaching fluency. Keep at it!

7. How Can SpanishPod101 Help You Learn Other Ways To Introduce Yourself in Spanish?

If you liked this guide to the essential phrases to introduce yourself in Spanish, then feel free to find more resources, idiomatic expressions, and fun lessons on our SpanishPod101 website. We have over 1800 audio and video lessons, lively community forums, and a good combination of energetic hosts to help you with your Spanish needs in a fun and easy manner!

Now get out there and put the useful Spanish phrases you learned to good use!

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