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Basic Spanish Words for Beginners

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Have you decided to learn Spanish? Congratulations! It will be a very exciting and rewarding journey.

However, as you set out to learn this new language, you might not know where to begin. The sheer number of Spanish vocabulary words you have to learn can be overwhelming!

Keep in mind that you don’t need to rush into lessons that are above your level. It’s better to start from the basics and build a foundation that will help you reach your desired level of proficiency in Spanish!

To give you a boost, SpanishPod101 has compiled this guide to basic Spanish words for beginners. We’ve listed over 200 common Spanish words in different categories, providing additional information where necessary. 

Have fun!

A Man and a Woman Chatting while Drinking Coffee

You’re one step closer to your first conversation in Spanish!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Pronouns
  2. Articles
  3. Numbers
  4. Nouns
  5. Verbs
  6. Adjectives
  7. Conjunctions
  8. Prepositions
  9. Final Thoughts

1. Pronouns

Pronouns are some of the most important basic Spanish words for beginners. You’ll use them often in regular conversations!

However, when you start learning Spanish, you might be overwhelmed by how complex the pronoun system is. Don’t worry! We’ll start with the basics.

1 – Personal Subject Pronouns

Personal subject pronouns replace the subject of a sentence. You can use them to talk about a previously mentioned noun, whether it’s a person, an animal, or an object. In addition, you can use them to talk about yourself or to address other people.

  • Yo hablo español. → “I speak Spanish.”
  • Vosotros habláis inglés. → “You speak English.”

PersonSpanishEnglish
1st person sg.yoI
2nd person sg.you
3rd person sg.él, ellahe, she
1st person pl.nosotroswe
2nd person pl.vosotrosyou
3rd person pl.ellos, ellasthey

You might be surprised to learn that most native speakers won’t use personal subject pronouns to begin a sentence. The subject is often omitted unless it’s not obvious who or what we’re talking about.

  • Hablo español. → “(I) speak Spanish.”
  • Habláis inglés. → “(You) speak English.”

Apart from subject pronouns, other personal pronouns include direct object pronouns, indirect object pronouns, and prepositional pronouns. In Spanish, personal pronouns change form depending on their function and position in the sentence. Want to learn more? Check out SpanishPod101’s lesson on personal pronouns.

2 – Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns in Spanish (such as ese, este, and aquel) are quite easy for English speakers to grasp, as they work similarly to their English equivalents. You can use them to identify a person, an animal, or a thing, as well as its distance from you. These are some of the basic beginner Spanish words you need to learn early on!

In English, there are only four demonstrative pronouns: this and that and their plural forms these and those. However, in Spanish, there are fifteen! Why is that?

First of all, Spanish demonstrative pronouns correspond to the three different adverbs used to express distance: aquí (“here”), allá (“there”), and ahí (expresses something between here and there).

  • Este de aquí es mi perro. → “This is my dog.”
  • Esos de ahí son mis amigos. → “Those are my friends.”
  • Aquel de allá es mi coche. → “That is my school.”

The other main difference between Spanish and English demonstrative pronouns is the gender distinction, which applies to both singular and plural pronouns. Spanish has different forms for masculine, feminine, and neuter gender.

PersonSpanishEnglish
aquíahíallíherethere

masculine
sg.esteeseaquelthisthat
pl.estosesosaquellosthesethose

feminine
sg.estaesaaquellathisthat
pl.estasesasaquellasthesethose
neuterestoesoaquellothisthat

3 – Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are crucial in any language, making them some of the most important Spanish words for beginners to learn. Asking is the best way to learn, after all!

And here’s some good news: They’re very easy for English speakers to learn, as they work just like their English equivalents! 

  • Qué → “What”
    ¿Qué quieres comer? “What do you want to eat?”
  • Cuál → “Which”
    ¿Cuál de ellos es tu hijo? → “Which one is your son?”
  • Por qué → “Why”
    ¿Por qué dejaste tu trabajo? “Why did you quit your job?”
  • Quién → “Who”
    ¿Quién vas a invitar a tu cumpleaños? “Who will you invite to your birthday?”
  • Dónde → “Where”
    ¿Dónde vas a ir de vacaciones? “Where will you go on your vacation?”
  • Cuánto → “How much”
    ¿Cuánto pagaste por esta chaqueta? “How much did you pay for this jacket?”
  • Cuántos / Cuántas → “How many”
    ¿Cuántos días te vas a quedar? “How many days will you stay?”
    ¿Cuántas manzanas quieres comprar? “How many apples do you want to buy?”
  • Cuándo → “When”
    ¿Cuándo vas a tener el bebé? “When will you have the baby?”

Of course, it will be helpful to learn a few full questions by heart if you’re planning to visit Spain or have a conversation with a Spanish speaker. Fortunately, SpanishPod101 always has your back! Check out the Top 15 Questions You Should Know for Conversations.

A Woman Feeling the Stomach of a Pregnant Woman

¿Cuándo vas a tener el bebé? (“When will you have the baby?”)

2. Articles

One of the most characteristic aspects of the Spanish language is its articles. Studying these basic Spanish words for beginners is key to starting your learning journey off on the right foot.

Articles accompany nouns and can be definite (like the English word “the”) or indefinite (like the English words “a” and “an”).

  • El vaso “The glass”
  • Un vaso → “A glass”

In Spanish, however, they also indicate gender and number. This is why there are more articles to learn than there are in English. 

PersonDefinite articleIndefinite article

masculine
sg.elun
pl.losunos

feminine
sg.launa
pl.losunas

There is also the neuter article lo, which goes before adjectives, participles, and ordinal numbers that are not followed by a noun.

  • Lo mejor “The best”
  • Lo hablado → “What was said”
  • Lo primero “The first”

3. Numbers

When you start learning a language, you definitely have to learn how to count in it!

Let’s see the cardinal Spanish numbers from one to ten:

  • Uno → “One”
  • Dos → “Two”
  • Tres → “Three”
  • Cuatro → “Four”
  • Cinco → “Five”
  • Seis → “Six”
  • Siete → “Seven”
  • Ocho → “Eight”
  • Nueve → “Nine”
  • Diez → “Ten”

And here are the ordinal Spanish numbers from one to ten:

  • Primero → “First”
  • Segundo → “Second”
  • Tercero → “Third”
  • Cuarto → “Fourth”
  • Quinto → “Fifth”
  • Sexto → “Sixth”
  • Séptimo → “Seventh”
  • Octavo → “Eighth”
  • Noveno → “Ninth”
  • Décimo → “Tenth”

Once you’ve mastered counting from one to ten, check out SpanishPod101’s lessons on numbers to learn how to count to infinity!

4. Nouns

Nouns identify a person, animal, place, thing, or idea. Spanish nouns can be singular or plural, and each one has a grammatical gender

Below is a list of nouns you can use in your daily life, whether your back hurts, you’re looking for the post office, or you’re preparing a tasty meal. These basic beginner Spanish words can help you communicate general ideas even before you learn how to form sentences, so remember as many as you can!


1 – Body Parts

cuerpobody
cabezahead
caraface
ojoseyes
nariznose
bocamouth
orejasears
pelohair
mejillascheeks
cuelloneck
nucaback of the neck
hombrosshoulders
brazosarms
manoshands
Dedosfingers
uñasnails
pecho / pechoschest / breasts
These are some tricky words! Pechos is plural for pecho (“chest”), but it actually refers to “breasts.”
barrigabelly
espaldaback
caderahip
muslosthigh
piernaslegs
piesfeet

2 – Family

familiafamily
madre (Mamá)mother (Mom)
padre (Papá)father (Dad)
hijo / hijason / daughter
hermano / hermanabrother / sister
abuelo / abuelagrandfather / grandmother
tío / tíauncle / aunt
sobrino / sobrinanephew / niece
primo / primacousin

A Grandfather, Father, and Son

¡Una familia unida! (“A united family!”)

3 – Occupations

maestro / maestrateacher
profesor / profesoraprofessor
policíapoliceman / policewoman
médico / doctor / doctoradoctor
In Spanish, médico and doctor are used often equally. However, the phrase “to go to the doctor” is often said as “ir al médico” and, when you address the doctor directly you’ll refer to him or her as “doctor” or “doctora“, sometimes followed by his or her surname.
  • ¿Es grave, doctora García? → “Is it serious, doctor García?”
enfermero / enfermeranurse
abogado / abogadalawyer 
cocinero / cocineracook
camarero / camarera waiter / waitress
empresario / empresariabusinessman / businesswoman
oficinistaoffice worker

4 – Places Around Town

hospitalhospital
mercado / supermercadomarket / supermarket
escuelaschool
museomuseum
oficina de correospost office
universidaduniversity
comisaríapolice station
estación de trentrain station
aeropuertoairport
centro (de la ciudad)city center / downtown
In Spanish cities and towns, it’s common to refer to the old and central areas as el centro. It’s usually where there are the most tourist attractions and where rent is most expensive.
  • La estación del tren está en el centro. → “The train station is in the city center.”
afueras (de la ciudad)outskirts
Contrary to the concept of el centro, there is the concept of las afueras, which refers to the areas of a town or city that are farther away from the urban core.
  • El aeropuerto está en las afueras. → “The airport is in the city’s outskirts.”

5 – School and Office Essentials

lápizpencil
rotuladormarker
bolígrafopen
You’ll rarely hear a student say the word bolígrafo. The diminutive boli is much more commonly used.
ordenadorcomputer 
(ordenador) portátillaptop
To say “the laptop,” most Spanish speakers will say el portátil, but some may say ordenador too. Nowadays, laptops are more popular than traditional computers, so some people specify ordenador de sobremesa (literally, “on-desk computer”).
  • Prefiero usar el portátil en lugar del ordenador de sobremesa. → “I prefer using the laptop instead of the computer.”
libretanotebook
foliopiece of paper
carpetafolder
goma de borrareraser
marcadorhighlighter
clippaperclip
pizarrablackboard / whiteboard / chalkboard / greenboard
pupitredesk 
This word is used to talk specifically about school desks.
mochilabackpack

A Little Girl with a Backpack and Flower Bouquet Heading to School

Lista para la escuela (“Ready for school”)

6 – Food

verdurasvegetables
tomatetomato
lechugalettuce
pimientopepper
berenjenaeggplant
patatapotato
alcachofaartichoke
frutafruit
manzanaapple
perapear
plátanobanana
cerezascherries
sandíawatermelon
melónmelon
carnemeat
pescadofish
lechemilk
quesocheese
huevoseggs
harinaflour
salsalt
azúcarsugar
aceiteoil
mantequillabutter


5. Verbs

Verbs are some of the most common and basic beginner Spanish words. Why is that? Because verbs are used to describe every action in our lives! 

Here’s a list with over 50 verbs that will prove useful when you’re starting to speak Spanish. Did you know that in Spanish there are four different verbs that mean “to eat”? Keep reading! 


1 – Basic Auxiliary Verbs

haberto have
serto be
estarto be

The verbs ser and estar both translate to the English verb “to be,” but they serve different functions. 

Ser is used for permanent or lasting attributes, occupations, characteristics, origins, and relationships. It’s also used to give the time. 

  • Marta es una buena persona. → “Marta is a good person.”
  • Son las dos de la tarde. → “It is two in the afternoon.”

On the other hand, estar is used for positions, locations, actions, conditions, and emotions:

  • La ciudad de Moscú está en Rusia. → “The city of Moscow is in Russia.”
  • Estoy haciendo la compra. → “I’m doing the grocery shopping.”

These auxiliary verbs are some of the most important Spanish words for beginners to learn. They’re used with main verbs to express the tense or to explain the way in which the verb is understood.

  • He fregado los platos. → “I’m doing the dishes.”
  • Estoy haciendo la compra. → “I’m doing the shopping.”
  • La presidenta fue elegida por sus conciudadanos. → “The president was chosen by her fellow citizens.”

2 – Most Common Verbs

tenerto have 
Don’t mix up tener with haber!

Tener means “to have” in the sense of “to possess.”
hacerto do / to make
podercan
decirto say
irto go

3 – The Five Senses

ver / mirarto see / to watch
escuchar / oirto hear / to listen
olerto smell
degustarto taste
tocarto touch

Close-up of a Freckled Face and Green Eyes

¿Qué ven esos ojos? (“What do those eyes see?”)

4 – Basic Actions

caminarto walk
correrto run
hablarto talk
decirto say
contarto tell
llamarto call
escribirto write
leerto read
darto give
venirto come
llegarto arrive
marcharseto leave
ponerto put
dejarto leave / to put
Dejar is used in the sense of “leaving something” in a specific place.
quitarto remove

5 – Thoughts and Feelings

saberto know
conocerto know
Both conocer and saber translate to the English verb “to know.” However, they’re used in very different situations.

Saber is used when the speaker knows a fact, piece of information, or how to do something. Conocer, on the other hand, is used when the speaker knows a person, place, or thing.
  • Sé cocinar una paella riquísima. → “I know how to cook very good paella.”
  • ¿María? No la conozco. → “María? I don’t know her.”
sentirto feel
querer / amarto love
recordarto remember
añorarto miss
necesitarto need
soñarto dream
sufrirto suffer
llorarto cry
reirto laugh

6 – Daily Routine

despertarseto wake up
levantarseto get up
ducharseto shower
desayunarto eat breakfast
almorzarto eat lunch or second breakfast
comerto eat (lunch)
cenarto eat dinner
Spanish speakers use different verbs meaning “to eat,” depending on the meal they’re having.

The first meal of the day is desayuno, so the verb is always desayunar.

Almorzar means “to eat lunch,” but most people nowadays use it to talk about a second meal you have between breakfast and lunch (could be the Spanish equivalent to “brunch”).

Comer is the generic word for eating whatever and whenever, but if you say voy a comer you mean “I’m going to have lunch.”

Lastly, the final meal of the day is la cena; when you eat dinner, you’ll say cenar.
beberto drink
trabajarto work
estudiarto study
conducirto drive
dormirto sleep

7 – Life and Death

nacerto be born
vivirto live
respirarto breathe
crecerto grow (up)
morirto die

    → Learning the Spanish verb tenses can be overwhelming. But don’t worry, SpanishPod101 will help you master this subject in our Spanish Verb Conjugation Series.

A Newborn Baby being Held by a Doctor

¡Vivir es nacer a cada instante! -Erich Fromm (“To live is to be born every second!” -Erich Fromm)

6. Adjectives

Our next set of Spanish beginner words are adjectives. These colorful words can help you describe the world around you and strengthen the impact of your speaking or writing. 

Spanish adjectives agree in gender and number with the noun they describe. In this table, you’ll find both genders in the format [ Masculine / Feminine ]. If you see only one, it means the masculine and feminine forms are identical.

Plurals, on the other hand, are rather predictable and follow the general rules of Spanish plural formation.


1 – Describing Objects

The following adjectives can be used to describe the physical attributes or aspects of objects, and are sometimes used to describe people and animals too. 

grandebig
pequeño / pequeñasmall / little
largo / largalong
pesado / pesadaheavy
Beware! Most of the time, when people use pesado or pesada to describe a person, they’re using it as an insult to call them “tiresome” or “annoying.”
ligero / ligeralight

2 – Describing People

These adjectives, on the other hand, are mostly used to describe people. They can also describe animals where applicable. 

guapo / guapabeautiful / pretty / handsome
atractivo / atractivaattractive
alto / altatall
bajo / bajashort
delgado / delgadathin
gordo / gordafat
jovenyoung
viejo / viejaold
rubio / rubiablond 
moreno / morenadark (skinned or haired)
pelirrojo / pelirrojared-haired

3 – Describing Emotions

contento / contentahappy / pleased
felizhappy
emocionado / emocionadaexcited / emotional
ilusionado / ilusionadahopeful / excited
tristesad
desanimado / desanimadadisheartened
deprimido / deprimidadepressed
ansioso / ansiosaanxious / eager
aburrido / aburridabored
avergonzado / avergonzadaembarrassed / ashamed

4 – Describing Weather

lluviosorainy
nubladocloudy
ventosowindy
soleadosunny

7. Conjunctions

You can use conjunctions to connect words, clauses, and sentences. 

  • y → “and”
    El perro y el gato → “The dog and the cat”
  • ni → “nor”
    Ni el perro ni el gato “Not the dog nor the cat”
  • pero → “but”
    Quiero ir pero tengo que estudiar. → “I want to go but I have to study.”
  • porque → “because”
    Me marcho porque estoy cansado. → “I’m leaving because I’m tired.”

    Many people, even native Spanish speakers, mix up porque and por qué when they write, but they mean very different things! While porque means “because,” por qué means “why.”
  • como → “like” / “as”
    Pelean como el perro y el gato. → “They fight like dogs and cats.”
  • ya que → “because” / “since”
    Dejó los estudios ya que encontró un trabajo. “She quit her degree because she got a job.”
  • que “that” / “who”
    Mi madre es la persona que más me quiere. → “My mother is the person who loves me the most.”

Check out SpanishPod101’s lesson Spanish Conjunctions: But You Won’t Have Time! to learn about different types of conjunctions.

A Dog and Cat Cuddling

El perro y el gato (“The dog and the cat”)

8. Prepositions

  • a “to”
    Me voy a dormir. → “I’m going to sleep.”
  • de → “from” / “of”
    Recibí una carta de mi abuelo. “I received a letter from my grandad.”
  • en “in”
    Pon la ropa en la lavadora. → “Put the clothes in the washing machine.”
  • con → “with”
    Han venido con sus amigos. → “They have come with their friends.”
  • por “by” / “for”
    Este pastel está hecho por él mismo. → “This cake was made by himself.”
  • sin “without”
    He venido sin abrigo. → “I came without a coat.”
  • para “for”
    Mi sobrina dibujó esto para mí. → “My niece drew this for me.”

A Little Girl Holding up a Picture She Drew

Mi sobrina dibujó esto para mí. (“My niece drew this for me.”)

9. Final Thoughts

In this guide to basic Spanish words for beginners, you’ve learned more than 200 of the most common Spanish words. These will prove useful as you get ready to handle your first conversations in Spanish! 

How many of these words did you know already? Were any of them new to you? We look forward to hearing your thoughts! 

If you want to take your Spanish learning journey further, don’t forget to check out SpanishPod101. We have plenty of free vocabulary lists to help you expand your Spanish vocabulary, as well as useful lessons ranging from Beginner Level to Advanced

Enjoy the ride!

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