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Top 10 Spanish Filler Words to Help You Sound Like a Native

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Even if you’ve mastered Spanish grammar, you might notice that during conversations with native speakers, some words frequently come up that don’t quite fit with everything you’ve learned about the language.

This might be frustrating and cause you to get lost in conversations, but there’s no need to panic. What you’re hearing are Spanish filler words

Filler words are an important part of every spoken language. They’re short words or phrases that are commonly used to indicate pauses, to fill gaps in speech, or to start conversations. While they don’t necessarily follow any grammar rules, they’re a unique part of speech that help make up the particularities of a language. 

Learning a few basic Spanish filler words will not only spare you a lot of headaches during your conversations, but it will also make you sound like a native speaker.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you should know about filler words in Spanish: why and how to use them, which ones are most common, and much more.

Ready to become a master of the Spanish language with SpanishPod101? Let’s go!

A Group of Four Friends Sitting Down with Drinks to Talk

Bueno, y ¿cómo han estado? / Well, so, how have you been?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. What are ‘muletillas’ and why are they important?
  2. The Top 10 Filler Words According to Their Functions
  3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words
  4. La despedida

1. What are ‘muletillas’ and why are they important?

As their name indicates, filler words are typically used to fill gaps in speech during a conversation. In Spanish, however, they’re given the name muletillas. Muletilla literally means “cane” or “crutches.” This term has a somewhat pejorative connotation, as it conveys the need for constant support in order to communicate. 

As you can guess, language purists do not encourage the use of muletillas. However, it is undeniable that they’ve become an important part of spoken Spanish.  

You can see the same phenomenon occurring in English. Just think of the words “well,” “like,” and “so,” which are used in just about every conversation. In addition to filling in any blank spaces, they help the speaker better structure their thoughts. Spanish filler words are used in much the same way! 

Filler words in Spanish can perform the following functions:

  • Indicate a pause so you can think or restructure your ideas
  • Connect your ideas and give your speech greater structure
  • Express agreement regarding what your conversation partner is saying
  • Emphasize a point
  • Gauge whether your conversation partner is following the conversation

Also keep in mind that Spanish filler words vary greatly from one country to another. We recommend keeping your ears open all the time in order to learn as many variations as possible. 

Now that you know the basics, here are 10 of the most common filler words in Spanish that you can start using in your conversations right away. 

2. The Top 10 Filler Words According to Their Functions

A Woman on Campus Waving Goodbye to Her Friends

Bueno, los veo en la clase de mañana. / Okay, see you in tomorrow’s class.

2.1 Filler Words to Take a Pause

#1. Bueno

SpanishLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Bueno“Well” / “Good”“Well” / “Okay”

Bueno is a very common muletilla in Spanish. It’s mostly used to take a pause as you gather your thoughts (just like “well” is used in English), but it can also be used as an affirmative filler word to show agreement. It’s also a common Spanish sentence starter.

Bueno, me parece ya es algo tarde, podemos continuar mañana. 
Well, I believe it is already a little late; we can continue tomorrow.

A: Te veo mañana en clases. 
B: Bueno, nos vemos mañana. 
A: See you tomorrow in class. 
B: Okay, see you tomorrow.

#2 Pues

SpanishLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Pues“Well” / “As” “Well”

Pues can be used interchangeably with bueno, and it’s also used very much like the English word “well.”

A: ¿Alguién sabe cuándo recibiremos las calificaciones de la clase de Inglés?
B: Pues, yo espero que mañana. 
A: Does anybody know when we are receiving our grades for the English class? 
B: Well, I expect that tomorrow.

A: ¿Irás a la fiesta de bienvenida? 
B: Pues no sé, estoy muy cansada. 
A: Are you going to the welcome party? 
B: Well, I don’t know, I am very tired.

    → You can sound even more like a native by learning additional Key Spanish Phrases in our free vocabulary list! 

2.2 Filler Words to Add Structure

#3 En fin

SpanishLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
En fin“In end”“Lastly” / “In short” / “Anyway”

En fin is used to wrap up or summarize a conversation, or to indicate that you’re getting ready to drive home your point. You can use this common Spanish filler to politely end a conversation and avoid an awkward silence. 

En fin, la reunión ha sido muy interesante, pero deberíamos comenzar a prepararnos para el examen. 
Anyway, the meeting has been very interesting, but we should start getting ready for the exam.

En fin, el objetivo del proyecto es aplicar todo lo que aprendieron durante el semestre.
In short, the goal of the project is to apply everything you learned during the semester.

#4 Entonces

SpanishLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Entonces“Then” / “Hence”“So” / “Then”

Entonces is a connecting and transitioning word you’ll hear very often during conversations. Although this word is also used in formal written Spanish, its meaning changes slightly when it’s used as a filler word.

In writing, you’ll mostly find it used as a connecting word similar to “then,” “therefore,” or “hence” in English. When used in a conversation, it can also serve this function as well as that of the English filler word “so.”

Entonces, ¿no hay clases mañana? 
So, there is no class tomorrow?

A: Está cerrado el laboratorio. 
B:
Entonces mejor vayamos a la biblioteca. 
A: The laboratory is closed.
B: We’d better go to the library then.

2.3 Filler Words to Express Agreement

A Woman Paying Close Attention in Class

Vale, ahora entiendo. / Got it, now I understand.

#5 Ya

SpanishLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Ya“Already” / “Now”“Yes”

The word ya literally means “already” or “now,” and you can find it used this way in both written Spanish and spoken Spanish. But, like the previous word we looked at, it can also serve another function when used as a filler word. In this context, ya can be used to express agreement.

A: Creo que no podré ir a la reunión, esta tarea me está tomando más tiempo de lo que pensé.
B: Ya, entiendo, yo también me siento un poco cansado tampoco sé si iré. 
A: I don’t know if I will go to the meeting; this homework is taking me longer than I expected. 
B: Yes, I understand; I also feel very tired myself. I don’t know if I will make it either.

A: Todavía no puedo decidir si continuar con mi posgrado o no.
B: Ya, es una decisión muy difícil. 
A: I still can’t decide if I should continue with graduate school or not. 
B: Yeah, that is a very difficult decision.

#6 Vale

SpanishLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Vale“It’s valid”“Okay” / “Right” / “Got it”

Vale is one of the most common Spanish filler words to hear in a conversation, especially in Spain. It’s a very versatile word and it can come up multiple times in a single sentence. You can use it to express agreement, to emphasize your engagement in a conversation, or to check the engagement of your conversation partner.

A: Tu estarás a cargo de la redacción del proyecto. 
B: Vale, me parece perfecto. 
A: You will be in charge of writing the project.
B: Got it, that’s perfect.

Paso por ti mañana a las 10 para ir a la conferencia, ¿vale? 
I’ll pick you up tomorrow at 10 to go to the conference, okay?

2.4 Filler Words to Show Emphasis

#7 Mira

SpanishLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Mira“Look”“Look”

Mira, which literally means “look,” can be used to emphasize something or to indicate that what we’re about to say is important. This filler word in Spanish is used very similarly to its English counterpart.

Mira, yo creo que lo mejor sería que mañana conversemos esto con el equipo completo
Look, I think it would be best if we talked about this with the whole team tomorrow.

Me parece una buena idea pero mira, no creo que se del agrado del profesor. 
Sounds like a good idea to me, but look, I don’t think the teacher will like it.

#8 Venga / Vamos

SpanishLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Venga / Vamos“Come” / “Come on”“Come on”

Though both words have the same meaning, venga is very commonly used in Spain while vamos is used in Latin American Spanish. This word is used to encourage someone to take action or to express incredulity.

Vamos, que llegamos tarde. 
Come on, we’re going to be late.

Venga, ¿en serio? no me lo creo.
Come on, really? I can’t believe it.

2.5 Filler Words to Check Engagement or Comprehension

Two Women Sitting on a Sofa and Chatting

Reunirnos para practicar nuestro español ha sido muy útil, ¿sabes? 
Meeting up to practice our Spanish has been very helpful, you know?

#9 ¿Sabes?

SpanishLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
¿Sabes?“You know?”“You know?”

Sabes literally means “you know.” Like in English, you use it to check in with your conversation partner and to emphasize your own engagement in the conversation.

Este semestre ha sido muy difícil continuar con el trabajo y la escuela ¿sabes? 
This semester, it has been very difficult to keep up with work and school, you know?

La maestra dijo que estaba de acuerdo con nuestra propuesta, nunca pensé que fuera tan flexible ¿sabes? 
The teacher said she was okay with our proposal. I never thought she would be that flexible, you know?

#10 ¿Viste?

SpanishLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Viste“Did you see?”“Did you see?” / “Right?”

This filler word is used a lot in South America, especially in Argentina, although it’s widely understood among Spanish speakers everywhere. It’s used to make sure your conversation partner is following the conversation or to ask them for agreement.

El proyecto final no fue tan complicado, ¿viste?
The final project wasn’t so complicated, right?

El director ignoró completamente nuestra solicitud ¿viste? 
The principal completely ignored our request, did you see?

3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words

A Woman Sitting on the Ground Holding a Speech Bubble by Her Face

En fin, ahora estoy lista para comenzar a usar muletillas en una conversación.
Anyway, now I am ready to start using filler words in a conversation.

As you can see, filler words are short and fairly easy to pick up. They are very versatile and can be used to make conversations more fluid. So that means you should start using them right away, right?

Well…yes and no. Filler words have their pros and cons, so let’s talk about them.

3.1 Sound Like a Native

Once you’ve mastered Spanish grammar and pronunciation, using filler words will definitely make your speech sound more natural and help you engage in conversations like a native. 

As we mentioned before, filler words are an essential part of any spoken language. According to experts, one in every ten words used when speaking is a filler word. Thus, learning how to identify and use them is an important step on your journey toward mastering Spanish.

3.2 Beware of Overusing Them

Despite the importance of Spanish sentence starters and filler words, you should be careful not to overuse them. An excess of filler words in your speech can make you sound hesitant. Like idioms, they should be used sparingly and according to the situation.

Remember the term muletillas? One of the reasons they’re called this is because it’s easy to start depending on filler words whenever you’re stuck or struggling to find the right words. Using filler words everytime you forget what comes next or get stuck in your flow of thought does not leave the best impression.

Our advice is to start by learning to identify the most common Spanish filler words when they appear in your conversations. Once you can do that, start slowly adding them to your own speech as auxiliaries, being careful not to depend upon them too much for communication. 

4. La despedida

In this guide, we’ve presented to you everything you should know about Spanish filler words: the most common ones, their meaning, and examples of how to use them. We’ve also talked about their importance as well as the risk of overusing them.

Is there any filler word in Spanish you know that we didn’t mention? Please let us know in the comments!

Once you have all of these words memorized, we recommend paying attention to how they’re used in conversations and how they change for different variations of Spanish. You can do this by listening to podcasts in Spanish, watching YouTube videos or movies, and more.

Remember that, at SpanishPod101.com, you can find lots of useful resources to practice your pronunciation, learn new vocabulary, and have fun while improving your Spanish.

If you’re looking for a faster and more intensive way to take your Spanish to the next level, you can try our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, which gives you access to 1-on-1 private coaching from a professional Spanish teacher.

So, get ready to practice and start using filler words in Spanish! We wish you happy learning with SpanishPod101 y ¡hasta luego!

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