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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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The Top Spanish Love Phrases to Say “I Love You” in Spanish

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Spanish can be used to express love with a lot of passion, probably because Spaniards are very affectionate themselves. But, sometimes, all this enthusiasm can be confusing. 

Do they love me? Do they just like me as a friend?

If you were wondering how to say “I love you,” in Spanish or understand if someone actually loves you back, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide from SpanishPod101, you’ll learn the top phrases and expressions you’ll need to pursue your love interest. We’ll cover everything from asking your crush out on a date to actually proposing to him/her.

Of course, if you’re getting to know a native Spanish speaker, there’s no better way to woo them than by using romantic phrases in their mother tongue. And if you’re already married to a Spanish speaker, learn as soon as possible how to express your love in Spanish (please!).

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Getting to Know Each Other: Confess Your Affection
  2. Fall in Deeper: “I Love You” and More
  3. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More
  4. Endearment Terms: Cute Couple Nicknames
  5. Bonus: Must-Know Love Idioms
  6. Final Thoughts

Two Heart-Shaped Balloons Floating against a Blue, Slightly Cloudy Sky

How do you say “I love you,” in Spanish? Let’s get romantic!

1. Getting to Know Each Other: Confess Your Affection

Do you have a crush on a Spanish person? Congratulations! You’re in for a passionate ride. That is, of course, if you play your cards right.

Here are the most important phrases and steps that will get you from a first date (or casual encounter…don’t be too formal with Spaniards) to a more long-term relationship with the man/woman of your dreams!

¿Puedo invitarte a una copa?
¿Te apetece que vayamos a cenar?
Can I buy you a drink?
Would you fancy having dinner with me?
In Spanish culture, it’s not so common to ask for a formal cita or “date.”

If you like someone, you would probably invite them a tomar algo (“to have a drink”) or to go have dinner together. Make it casual but romantic!


Me encantaría volverte a ver.I’d love to see you again.

El tiempo vuela cuando estoy contigo.Time flies when I’m with you.
This is kind of a cheesy way to say that you have so much fun with your love interest that you can’t get enough of being by his/her side.

Me gustas [mucho].I like you [a lot].
This might be confusing for Spanish learners, as the verb gustar is usually translated as “to like.”

In Spanish, if you say Me gusta la paella, you mean that you like paella as a type of food. But if you say Me gustas to a person, then you’re probably implying a romantic intention.


Me vuelves loco / loca.I’m crazy about you.
Caution! It can also be said in a negative way, as in: “You make me go crazy.” Don’t forget to read the tone!

¿Quieres salir conmigo?
¿Quieres ser mi novio / novia?
Will you go out with me?
Will you be my boyfriend/girlfriend?
In Spanish, you would normally use salir con alguien to mean “dating someone.”

“Boyfriend” and “girlfriend” are novio and novia respectively, but some people prefer the more neutral word pareja (“partner”).

A Man and Woman Having Drinks and Exchanging Phone Numbers

¿Vamos a tomar algo? (“Should we go have a drink?”)

2. Fall in Deeper: “I Love You” and More

Ah, the honeymoon phase… When you’re head over heels in love with someone and you can’t wait to express all the feelings you have for him/her.

If you’re worried that your vocabulary is too limited to express how that special someone makes you feel, SpanishPod101 has got you covered. Here are a few love phrases in Spanish you can use to share your heart—and maybe even steal theirs. 

Te quiero [mucho].I love you [so much].
When Spaniards are in love, they say te quiero to their partner. 

However, like in English, this expression is also used in reference to all kinds of love (such as love for your family or your friends). It’s even normal to say ¡Te quiero muchísimo! to your pet.

Te amo.I love you.
Here’s where it can get tricky for Spanish learners. 

In Castilian Spanish, te amo has a much deeper meaning than te quiero. It’s almost exclusively used for romantic love, and in highly passionate contexts. You can get an idea of how powerful this phrase is for Spaniards by listening to the famous folkloric song by Rocío Jurado Como yo te amo (“As I love you”).

In Latin America, however, it’s equivalent to te quiero and can be used to express all kinds of love. 

Estoy enamorado / enamorada de ti.I’m in love with you.

Me muero de ganas de verte.I can’t wait to see you again.
Literally, “I’m dying to see you.”

Spanish people use me muero (“I’m dying”) in many circumstances when they want to be hyperbolic. For instance, they say Me muero de hambre (“I’m dying of hunger”) when they want some food. So dramatic!

No puedo dejar de pensar en ti.I can’t stop thinking about you.

Eres el amor de mi vida.You’re the love of my life.

    → Looking for even more ways to express your love in Spanish? Check out SpanishPod101’s blog post How to Say “I Love You” in Spanish to plan the most romantic Valentine’s Day for your significant other!
A Couple being Intimate

Eres el amor de mi vida. (“You’re the love of my life.”)

3. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More

When things get really serious and you want to spend your whole life with someone, there are some expressions that you’ll need to know in order to put a ring on it. 

Below are some romantic Spanish phrases for taking the relationship a step further, as well as some tips regarding what to expect when dating a Spaniard! 

Me gustaría construir una vida junto a ti.I’d love to build a life with you.

Quiero que conozcas a mi familia.I want you to meet my family.
This is one of the typical steps we take when getting serious in a relationship.

However, remember that Spanish people are very close to their relatives. So instead of only meeting their parents, expect to be introduced to parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins… 

Learn more about Spanish family values in our article about Spanish culture.

¿Vamos a vivir juntos?Do you want to live with me?

Te veo como al padre / a la madre de mis hijos.I see you as the father / mother of my children.
This is something you might say earlier on in the relationship if you have a corazonada (a “gut feeling”) that you might have found “the one.”

That said, you probably shouldn’t say this to someone you haven’t known very long—it might scare them! 

The most likely scenario is that you’ll let your friends know you feel this way about your new love interest first, and discuss it with said love interest later on when things are a bit more solid. 

Quiero pasar mi vida entera junto a ti.I want to spend my life with you.
In most real-life situations, this is probably a big hint to a marriage proposal.

¿Quieres casarte conmigo?Will you marry me?
Do I hear campanas de boda (“wedding bells”)?

¡Viva los novios! (“Hooray for the newlyweds!”)

A Newlywed Couple being Congratulated by Friends and Family

¡Viva los novios! (“Hooray for the newlyweds!”)

4. Endearment Terms: Cute Couple Nicknames

Spanish people tend to be very affectionate and like to give cute nicknames to their loved ones. It’s a way to say “I love you,” in Spanish on a daily basis. You can make all the nicknames below even cheesier by using the diminutive forms (like cielo-cielito or vida-vidita). 

But keep in mind that they’re not exclusively used for romantic love. In some situations, words that mean “my love” in Spanish can also be used for people dear to you, members of your family (especially children), and even people you’ve just met. Don’t freak out if some nice shop assistant calls you by one of the following nicknames…it doesn’t mean that he/she is hitting on you, it’s just how Spaniards talk!

Mi amor
Amorcito
My love
You can use mi amor, amorcito (if you’re a bit cheesy), or even just amor.

Cariño
Cari
Similar to “Honey”
The word cariño in Spanish means “affection” or “care.” It’s very common and used in many situations; you can have cariño for someone, but also for a special sweater you like to wear.

This affectionate nickname is used mainly in the forms of cariño, its shortened form cari, and even the diminutive form cariñito. There’s a popular Peruvian cumbia love song called Cariñito by Los Hijos del Sol that uses this cheesy nickname.

Rey / ReinaKing / Queen

CieloSimilar to “Honey” (literally, “Heaven”)
In Spanish, cielo means both “heaven” and “sky.” So if someone calls you cielo, you’ll never know if it’s because you’re like paradise to them or beautiful like the sky.

Mi vida
Vida mía
My life

CorazónMy heart

A Man Holding Bouquet of Roses behind His Back for a Woman

Treat your partner like a rey / reina!

5. Bonus: Must-Know Love Idioms

There are many ways to say “I love you,” in Spanish. You could just say Te quiero, but doesn’t Te quiero como la pera al pero sound much cooler?

Keep reading to discover the most peculiar and curious love idioms and expressions in the Spanish language.

Ser su media naranjaTo be his/her soulmate
This saying literally means that the two parts of a couple are “half oranges” that, when they find each other, make a whole orange. The origin of this idiom comes from an ancient Greek legend.

Weird, huh? Well, this is a common way to say that they were destined to be together.

TortolitosLovebirds
Even if tortolitos literally means “lovebirds,” it’s often used to mock a couple when they are seen being very affectionate to each other.

For example:

Uy, aquí sobramos, ¡vamos a dejar solos a los tortolitos! 
“Whoa, we’re too many here, let’s leave the lovebirds alone!”

Ser enamoradizoTo be someone that falls in love easily
There’s an actual expression for someone who falls in love too easily!

When someone is very enamoradizo, it means that he/she is a hopeless romantic but probably cannot commit to a relationship because they are enchanted by too many people.

Estar hechos el uno para el otroTo be made for each other

Te quiero como la pera al pero.I love you like the female pear to the male pear.
Okay, this is more funny than romantic…but it’s worth explaining this crazy Spanish idiom! 

It’s a comical way to say “I love you,” comparing your love for someone to the love that the pera (“pear,” a feminine word) has for the pero (or male pear). Of course, the “male pear” doesn’t exist, because pero actually means “but.”

El amor todo lo cura.Love heals all.
Caution! It’s often used as a pun, saying: El amor todo locura. It sounds exactly the same, but actually means, “Love is all craziness.”

A Whole Orange beside a Half Orange

Still looking for your media naranja (“soulmate”)?

6. Final Thoughts

Feeling romantic already? All clear on how to express your love in Spanish? In this guide, you’ve learned the top love phrases in Spanish that will get you from asking your crush out on a date to actually calling him/her by a cute couple’s nickname.

Learning a new language can bring us closer to the people who we (potentially) love. At SpanishPod101.com, you can find everything you need to improve your Spanish no matter your current level. We offer plenty of lessons, interesting blog posts, and free vocabulary lists featuring the most common words and their pronunciation.

Start speaking this passionate language today and win the heart of your future lover with these Spanish love phrases and romantic words!

¡Viva el amor! (“Long live love!”)

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Master the Art of Saying No with Negatives in Spanish

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Saying no in Spanish might sound quite easy, especially considering that the word “no” is used in both Spanish and English. However, there are some tricks and rules you’ll need to learn in order to master this important aspect of day-to-day conversations. The good news is that once you have these rules down, you’ll be able to make negative commands in Spanish, politely decline something, or answer a question in the negative. 

You should know that there are some grammar rules in English that don’t quite apply in Spanish. For starters, the use of double negatives—which is a grammatical error in English—is considered correct in Spanish and is very common. The usage of plural nouns is different as well, and of course, exact phrases and expressions differ.

But don’t worry! As always, we’re here to help. 

In this article, we’ll teach you…

  • …the most common negative words in Spanish.
  • …the basic negation forms and structures you should know. 
  • …how to form negative questions and answers. 
  • …how to use double negatives in Spanish.
  • …and more! 

You’ll want to master the art of making negative sentences early on, as they’re essential to even the most basic conversations. So, keep reading and get ready to improve your Spanish with SpanishPod101!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Negation in Spanish: An Overview
  2. Negative Questions and Answers: Rules and Examples
  3. Double Negatives
  4. A Few More Negative Expressions in Spanish
  5. La despedida

1. Negation in Spanish: An Overview

The most basic way to make a sentence negative in Spanish is to place a “no” before the verb and after the subject. Following this very simple rule, you can start using basic negation in your conversations:

  • Subject + No + Verb

Let’s see some examples of positive sentences turned to negative following this rule:

Quiero ir de vacaciones a la playa este verano.
I want to go on vacation to the beach this summer.

No quiero ir de vacaciones a la playa este verano.
I don’t want to go on vacation to the beach this summer.

Llegar a la estación de tren es fácil.
Getting to the train station is easy.

Llegar a la estación de tren no es fácil.
Getting to the train station is not easy.

As for compound sentences that have more than one verb, you’ll have to place the “no” before the first verb.

Este viaje ha sido muy divertido.
This trip has been very fun.

Este viaje no ha sido muy divertido.
This trip hasn’t been very fun.

However, placing the “no” before the verb is not the only way to make negative sentences in Spanish. Just like in English, there are other words you can use (never, neither, nobody, etc.) to the same effect. Below are some examples of how to use the most common Spanish negation words.

1- Most Common Negative Words in Spanish

Nunca – Never

  • Yo nunca he ido a Europa.
    I have never been to Europe.

Nada – Nothing / Anything

  • No quiero comer nada.
    I don’t want to eat anything.

Nadie – Nobody

  • Nadie vino a la fiesta. 
    Nobody came to the party.

Ni – Neither / Nor

* When the verb appears before the ni in a sentence, that verb has to be negative.

  • Ni yo ni mi hermana fuimos al tour.
    Neither I nor my sister went to the tour.
  • No fuimos al tour ni yo ni mi hermana.
    Neither I nor my sister went to the tour.

Ningun (o) (a) – None / Any

* Ninguno is a pretty unique negative word. When using it, you have to change the ending according to the grammatical gender of the noun that follows.

  • A: ¿Qué ciudad te gustó más, Praga o Berlín? 
    B: No me gustó ninguna. 
    A: Which city did you like the most, Prague or Berlin?
    B: I didn’t like either.
  • Ninguno de los asientos estaba vacío.
    None of the seats were free.
  • A: ¿Tuviste algún problema durante tu viaje? 
    B: No, no tuve ningún problema.
    A: Did you have any issues during your trip?
    B: No, I didn’t have any.

Tampoco – Neither / Either

  • Tu pasaporte no ha expirado todavía, el mío tampoco. 
    Your passport hasn’t expired yet, neither has mine.
  • ¿Entiendes Aleman? Nosotros tampoco entendemos.
    Do you understand German? We don’t understand either.

Todavía no – Not yet / Still not

  • Todavía no he terminado de empacar. 
    I haven’t finished packing yet.

Ya no – Not anymore / No longer

  • Ya no tengo efectivo, debería ir al cajero.
    I no longer have any cash, I should go to the ATM.
  • A: ¿Todavía piensas ir a esquiar este invierno? 
    B: Ya no.
    A: Are you still planning on going skiing this winter?
    B: Not anymore.

Sin / Without

  • No puedo viajar sin mi suéter favorito.
    I can’t travel without my favorite sweater.

A Guy Trying to Figure Out How to Pack Things into His Van

No estamos listos todavía. / We are not ready yet.

2- Affirmative and Negative Words in Spanish

Another important thing to remember is that, just like in English, many negative words in Spanish have a positive counterpart. By replacing a positive word with a negative word, you can turn a positive sentence into a negative one (and vice-versa). These positive words are also called indefinite words as they refer to persons, things, animals, etc. that are not specifically defined.  

Negative WordsPositive (Indefinite) Words
Nunca / NeverSiempre / Always
Nada / NothingAlgo / Something
Nadie / NobodyAlguien / Somebody
Ni / Neither, NorO / Or
Ninguno / NoneAlguno / Some, Any
Tampoco / NeitherTambién / Also, Too

Example:

Yo tampoco viajo en barco. / I don’t travel by boat either.
Yo también viajo en barco. / I travel by boat too.

2. Negative Questions and Answers: Rules and Examples

Two Women Looking at a Bus Schedule

¿No sabes dónde está la estación de autobús? / Don’t you know where the bus station is?

When asking negative questions in Spanish or giving negative answers, you have to keep in mind that Spanish has no equivalent for the English word “don’t.” For this reason, you’ll have to use no twice when answering (more on this in a little bit). Let’s see some examples!

Question: ¿Te gustó el viaje? / Did you like the trip?
Answer: No, no me gustó. / No, I didn’t like it.

Question: ¿No visitaste la torre Eiffel? / Didn’t you visit the Eiffel Tower?
Answer: No, no la visité. / No, I didn’t visit it.

3. Double Negatives

A Woman Grabbing Her Luggage at the Airport

Yo nunca antes viajé sola. / I never traveled alone before.

You might have heard a million times from your elementary school teacher that using double negatives is a no-no. For example, the following sentences would be grammatically incorrect in English: 

I don’t want no food.
I don’t like nobody.

This is because, in English, the two negative words cancel each other out. But this rule does not apply to Spanish grammar!

Negative expressions in Spanish are often formed using the so-called double negative. This is considered correct, and in some cases, it’s even required. In Spanish, the double negative reinforces the sentence

The formula is:

  • No + Verb + Negative word

Some examples:

    Ella no trajo nada de alimentos al campamento. / She didn’t bring any food to the camp.
    No me acompañó nadie al aeropuerto. / Nobody came with me to the airport.
    Yo no disfruto nunca de los viajes en autobús. / I never enjoy bus trips.
    A él no le gustó ninguno de los platillos locales. / He didn’t like any of the local dishes.
    Yo no bebo tampoco. / I don’t drink either.

Directly translating double negatives might sound very odd to you, which is why we recommend becoming familiar with the sounds and structures of Spanish without translating what you hear word for word. This is the best way to become fluent faster.

4. A Few More Negative Expressions in Spanish

Women with Delayed Flight Sleeping in the Airport

No veo el tren por ningún lado, debe estar retrasado. / I don’t see the train anywhere, it must be delayed.

Last but not least, here’s a list of very useful negative expressions in Spanish that will come in handy during your travels in Spanish-speaking countries.

1- No entiendo nada. / I don’t understand anything.

No entiendo nada, ¿podrías repetir por favor?
I don’t understand anything, could you repeat please?

2- No falta nada. / Nothing is missing.

Antes de irnos debemos asegurarnos que no falte nada en nuestras mochilas.
Before we leave we have to make sure nothing is missing from our backpacks.

3- Por ningún lado / Anywhere

¿Has visto mi chamarra? No la encuentro por ningún lado.
Have you seen my jacket? I can’t find it anywhere.

4- No pasa nada. / It’s okay.

No pasa nada, vamos a encontrar tu cartera.
It’s okay, we will find your wallet.

5- Todavía no / Not yet

A: ¿Estás lista? 
B: Todavía no.

A: Are you ready?
B: Not yet.

6- De ninguna manera / By no means

De ninguna manera saldrás solo después de las 11 de la noche.
By no means will you go out alone after 11 at night.

7- Ya no / No longer

Ya no quiero ir.
I no longer want to go.

  • For more useful negative words in Spanish, see our vocabulary list for rejecting an invitation and check out this video:

5. La despedida

In this guide, you’ve learned all the basics you’ll need to master negation in Spanish: 

  • The most important negative words in Spanish
  • The different rules involved in Spanish sentence negation 
  • The most common negative expressions in Spanish

You’ve also seen many examples, so you can start trying to make your own sentences right away.

Is there anything you would like to learn about Spanish negation that we didn’t cover here? Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments, and ideas, and we’ll make sure to answer any questions that might come up!

Remember that SpanishPod101 offers a great library of resources to help you in every step of your language learning journey. Learn or review all the basics with our guides and lessons for beginners, grow your vocabulary, or master your pronunciation with a free lifetime account. Better still, upgrade to a Premium PLUS membership and gain access to our MyTeacher service to take 1-on-1 lessons with your own personal tutor! 

Don’t know where to begin? Why not start by reading some more of our blog entries for inspiration?

Happy learning! Y ¡Hasta luego!

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The Ultimate Guide to Spanish Tenses

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One of the most daunting things when learning a new language, especially if that language is Spanish, is trying to master the verb tenses and conjugations. Spanish conjugation rules are quite different from those of English, and it might seem to you that there are too many Spanish tenses and endless exceptions. It might feel like a very long journey to embark on.

But don’t fear! 

Spanish is a complex language, and yes, there are numerous tenses to master. Nevertheless, there are numerous tricks and rules to make it all a lot easier. It’s all about learning patterns and practice, practice, practice.

We want to help you out on your mission to become an expert in Spanish verb tenses. Because it’s our goal to make the process as painless as possible for you, we’ll cover only the most important tenses in Spanish: simple past, present, and future.

After mastering these tenses, you’ll be able to start building more complex sentences and engaging in conversations. Once you have these down, we recommend that you continue your studies by learning all of the other complex tenses and irregular verbs.

Ready to take a huge step forward in your Spanish learning with SpanishPod101?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Spanish Tenses in a Nutshell
  2. Present Simple Tense: El Presente Simple
  3. Past Simple Tense: El Pasado Simple
  4. Simple Future Tense: El Futuro Simple
  5. Irregular Verbs
  6. Auxiliary Verbs
  7. La despedida

1. Spanish Tenses in a Nutshell

The three main tenses in Spanish are: 

  • Presente (Present)
  • Pasado / Pretérito (Past) 
  • Futuro (Future) 

There are also three modes (sometimes called ‘moods’) in which these tenses can be conjugated:

  • Indicative
  • Subjunctive
  • Imperative

There are also several variations of these tenses and modes, which allow you to express verbs in a greater variety of contexts. A great example of this is the Spanish conditional, a form that’s used to talk about things that might happen if another thing happens or a certain condition is met. 

So how do you know which Spanish tenses to learn first? 

As a beginner, you only need to worry about mastering the three basic tenses: simple present, past, and future. By learning these first, you’ll get familiarized with the structures and patterns used to conjugate verbs in Spanish—more importantly, you’ll be able to start communicating! From then on, learning everything else will be easier.

→ For a more extensive overview of all Spanish tenses, visit our Spanish Verbs Guide.

1.1 Key Things to Know Before You Start Conjugating

Before we get ahead of ourselves, there are two basic things you need to learn before diving into Spanish conjugation: 

1) Verbs in their infinitive form 

2) Pronouns

The conjugation pattern to be used for each tense will depend on the type of verb you’re using (its ending in the infinitive) and the subject of the sentence (the pronoun).

What do we mean by the verb’s ending? Unlike English, which adds a “to” before any verb to turn it into its dictionary form, Spanish infinitive forms are defined by how the verb ends (the verb’s last two letters). Each verb ends in either -ar, -er, or -ir. This is how we classify verbs in order to conjugate them.

Verbs in infinitive form
Verbs ending in -arVerbs ending in -erVerbs ending in -ir
hablar (to speak)comer (to eat)vivir (to live)
soñar (to dream)perder (to lose)sentir (to feel)
cantar (to sing)beber (to drink)salir (to exit)
pensar (to think)correr (to run)escribir (to write)
dejar (to leave)leer (to read)dormir (to sleep)

Pronouns
Yo
You (Informal)*
UstedYou (Formal)
ÉlHe 
EllaShe
NosotrosWe
Ustedes You
Ellos Them
Vosotros*You

→ For more verb examples, visit our list of the 50 Most Common Verbs.

*A couple of notes:

There are some regional variations regarding formal and informal uses of “you.” While most countries in Latin America use for informal conversations and usted for formal ones, usted is used as a general form in some South American countries.

Vosotros is used only by Spanish speakers in Spain, while standard Latin American Spanish uses ustedes. We’ll focus on standard Latin American Spanish in this article, but we wanted to let you know about the variations so they don’t come as a surprise to you.

Okay, now you know the key elements. Let’s start conjugating verbs!

2. Present Simple Tense: El Presente Simple

A Couple Cooking in the Kitchen Together

Every weekend I cook pasta. – Cada fin de semana cocino pasta.

So let’s get started! 

As we mentioned, to conjugate a verb you have to use its infinitive form. From that form, you’ll extract the root of the verb and add a different ending depending on the tense and pronoun.

Let’s see an example with the verb comer (to eat):

→ Infinitive form: Comer→ Root: Com
→ Present simple tense conjugation: Yo com(o) – I eat

Remember: The ending you need to add will change according to the ending of the infinitive verb. So let’s see how to conjugate verbs in the present simple tense for every ending. 

2.1 Simple Present Tense Verbs Ending in –AR

Verb: Cocinar (To Cook) 
PronounSimple Present Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Cocin+o
(You)Cocin+as
Usted (You)Cocin+a
Él (He)Cocin+a
Ella (She)Cocin+a
Nosotros (We)Cocin+amos
Ustedes (You)Cocin+an
Ellos (They)Cocin+an

Do you see a pattern here? Yes! The letter a from the -ar ending stays most of the time; remembering that will make it easier for you to remember the formulas for conjugating AR verbs in the present tense in Spanish. Just practice and memorize these endings, and it will get much easier to learn the rest of the tenses and forms.

2.2 Simple Present Tense Verbs Ending in -ER

Verb: Comer (To Eat)
PronounSimple Present Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Com+o
(You)Com+es
Usted (You)Com+e
Él (He)Com+e
Ella (She)Com+e
Nosotros (We)Com+emos
Ustedes (You)Com+en
Ellos (They)Com+en

We told you it would get easier and it did, right? The formulas here are pretty much the same as those for AR verbs; you just have to switch the letter a for e.

2.3 Simple Present Tense Verbs Ending in -IR

Verb: Vivir (To Live)
PronounSimple Present Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Viv+o
(You)Viv+es
Usted (You)Viv+e
Él (He)Viv+e
Ella (She)Viv+e
Nosotros (We)Viv+imos
Ustedes (You)Viv+en
Ellos (They)Viv+en

Okay, this one is a bit trickier. IR verbs have pretty much the same conjugation as ER verbs, changing only for the pronoun we, where the i stays. 

We recommend that you start learning the simple present tense first; once you’re completely confident with this tense, move on to the next one. Mastering the simple present tense in Spanish will allow you to start communicating more fluently, have conversations, and start identifying patterns in conjugation that will be very useful when learning the other tenses.

3. Past Simple Tense: El Pasado Simple

A Group of Friends Eating Salad Together

Yesterday, my friends and I ate salad. – Ayer, mis amigas y yo comimos ensalada.

Once you’ve mastered the simple present tense, you can move on to the simple past tense. And we have some good news for you! This one will be easier. In the Spanish past tense, ER and IR verbs have the exact same conjugation. There are also many patterns you’ll identify that will make your learning go smoother.

So let’s see how to conjugate for the simple past tense in Spanish!

3.1 Simple Past Tense Verbs Ending in -AR

Verb: Cocinar (To Cook) 
PronounSimple Past Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Cocin+é
(You)Cocin+aste
Usted (You)Cocin+ó
Él (He)Cocin+ó
Ella (She)Cocin+ó
Nosotros (We)Cocin+amos
Ustedes (You)Cocin+aron
Ellos (They)Cocin+aron

Keep an eye on the accents, because they’re very important. The tense changes depending on whether the accent is absent or present. For example: cocino means “I cook” but cocinó means “You/He/She cooked.”

3.2 Simple Past Tense Verbs Ending in -ER

Verb: Comer (To Eat)
PronounSimple Past Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Com+í
(You)Com+iste
Usted (You)Com+
Él (He)Com+
Ella (She)Com+
Nosotros (We)Com+imos
Ustedes (You)Com+ieron
Ellos (They)Com+ieron

3.3 Simple Past Tense Verbs Ending in -IR

Verb: Vivir (To Live)
PronounSimple Past Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Viv+í
(You)Viv+iste
Usted (You)Viv+
Él (He)Viv+
Ella (She)Viv+
Nosotros (We)Viv+imos
Ustedes (You)Viv+ieron
Ellos (They)Viv+ieron

As we mentioned, ER and IR verbs have the exact same conjugation in the past tense. And we have even more good news: The simple future tense in Spanish is the easiest of the three!

→ If you’re curious about irregular verb conjugation in the past tense, check out this video:



4. Simple Future Tense: El Futuro Simple

A Seaside Village in Catalonia, Spain

When I retire, I will live on the beach. – Cuando me retire viviré en la playa.

As we promised, everything gets even easier at this point. The future simple tense uses the same conjugation pattern for all three verb forms. The only difference is that to conjugate for the future tense in Spanish, you don’t extract the verb’s root form; rather, you keep the verb in its infinitive form and then add the conjugation.

Let’s see how!

4.1 Simple Future Tense Verbs Ending in -AR

Verb: Cocinar (To Cook) 
PronounSimple Future Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Cocinar+é
(You)Cocinar+ás
Usted (You)Cocinar+á
Él (He)Cocinar+á
Ella (She)Cocinar+á
Nosotros (We)Cocinar+emos
Ustedes (You)Cocinar+án
Ellos (They)Cocinar+án

4.2 Simple Future Tense Verbs Ending in -ER

Verb: Comer (To Eat)
PronounSimple Future Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Comer+é
(You)Comer+ás
Usted (You)Comer+á
Él (He)Comer+á
Ella (She)Comer+á
Nosotros (We)Comer+emos
Ustedes (You)Comer+án
Ellos (They)Comer+án

4.3 Simple Future Tense Verbs Ending in -IR

Verb: Vivir (To Live)
PronounSimple Future Tense Conjugation
Yo (I)Vivir+é
(You)Vivir+ás
Usted (You)Vivir+á
Él (He)Vivir+á
Ella (She)Vivir+á
Nosotros (We)Vivir+emos
Ustedes (You)Vivir+án
Ellos (They)Vivir+an

As you can see, this tense is the easiest of the three. You just have to learn the different formulas and apply them to all verbs in their infinitive form. There’s just one important thing to keep in mind: 

Unlike English speakers, Spanish speakers often use the simple future tense to talk about a distant future; there’s a different tense to talk about the near future. But don’t worry about it yet! Just keep it in mind.

5. Irregular Verbs

A Chef Sprinkling a Spice into a Pot

I am a culinary student. – Yo soy estudiante de cocina.

Okay. Now that you have the basics, you can start thinking about irregular verbs. Some of the most commonly used verbs in Spanish happen to be irregular.

Irregular Verbs (Infinitive Form)
Ser To be (Permanent quality)
EstarTo be (Temporary state)
HaberTo have (Auxiliary verb)
Tener To have
Hacer To do
Poder To be able
Decir To say
Ir To go
Ver To see
DarTo give

Irregular verbs have their particular patterns of conjugation. Let’s see a brief example of how to use one of the most common irregular verbs: ser (to be).

  • Yo soy estudiante de idiomas. → I am a language student.
  • Tú eres estudiante de idiomas. → You are a language student.
  • Él es estudiante de idiomas. → He is a language student.
  • Ella es estudiante de idiomas. → She is a language student.
  • Nosotros somos estudiantes de idiomas. → We are language students.
  • Ustedes son estudiantes de idiomas. → You are language students.

You’ll want to study all of these verbs separately. You’ll find many patterns that will help you learn them faster, but it’s a matter of dedication and practice to completely master them.

→ If you want to learn more irregular verbs, don’t forget to check out this video:



6. Auxiliary Verbs

Last but not least, let’s talk about the use of auxiliary verbs in Spanish. You’ll want to consider these verbs as your next step after learning the three basic tenses and mastering some of the irregular verbs’ conjugations. 

Just like in English, an auxiliary verb is used along with a main verb to indicate a tense or to indicate the way in which the verb should be interpreted. It’s a verb that affects the meaning of the main verb.

The most common auxiliary verbs in Spanish are:

Ser → To be
Estar → To be
Hacer → To do
Haber → To have

Let’s see an example:

  • He estudiado toda la tarde. → I have studied all afternoon.

However, it’s important to note that auxiliary verbs are used much less in Spanish than they are in English. This is because Spanish has conjugation forms to indicate tenses that are often indicated with auxiliary verbs in English. An example of this is the auxiliary verb “to do.”

For example: 

  • English: Do you cook?
  • Spanish: ¿Cocinas?

So in Spanish, you just conjugate the verb in the simple present tense; there’s no need to add an auxiliary verb. For now, focus on the three main tenses. This will all be clearer by the time you start learning about auxiliary verbs in depth. 

La despedida

In this guide, you’ve learned all the basics about Spanish verb tenses. Before you can expect to master all Spanish tenses, you’ll need to focus on learning the simple present, past, and future. With these three tenses alone, you can start engaging in conversations and building your skills. 

Remember that SpanishPod101 offers numerous resources to help you learn and practice your Spanish. Make sure to check out our verb lists, pronunciation guides, and lesson library. If you need extra help, you can also try out our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher. This will give you the personal guidance of a private teacher to help you out with all your technical questions, pronunciation, and anything else you need. 

Before you leave: Is there anything about these basic tenses that you’d still like to know? 

Happy learning with SpanishPod101. ¡Hasta luego!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Spanish?

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At some point, every Spanish learner has asked the question: How long does it take to learn Spanish? And there’s no easy answer! It depends on many factors, such as your commitment and available resources. The total amount of time it takes you to reach a certain level of fluency may vary significantly from that of another learner. 

But don’t get discouraged! Beginning your Spanish language learning journey now will be well worth it. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world (second only to Mandarin), and is growing in use every day. In addition to reaping the benefits of knowing such a widely spoken language, this journey will help you get closer to the wonderful Spanish culture and give you the confidence needed to travel solo to many Spanish-speaking countries!

In this article, you’ll get an estimate of how long it will take you to learn Spanish fluently based on your objectives and circumstances. We’ll also provide you with a list of the best ways to learn Spanish fast, so you can speed up your progress!

A Woman Smiling and Holding a Map

Planning a trip to Spain? Then keep reading for the best way to learn Spanish fast.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Factors You Should Take Into Account
  2. Mastering the Basics
  3. Reaching an Intermediate Level
  4. Native-Like Fluency
  5. Your Journey to Learning Spanish Starts Now!

Factors You Should Take Into Account

The journey of learning Spanish (or any other foreign language) is different for everyone. There are several factors that you should take into account before deciding to learn a language from scratch, as they play a key role in determining how long the process will take you. 

Try to answer the following questions:

What languages do you speak?

Your native language (and any other languages you speak) is a crucial factor to consider when you begin learning Spanish.

First of all, it’s much easier to learn a language if you can already speak another language with similar roots. For example, if you can speak a Romance language such as French, you’ll learn Spanish faster than someone who only speaks Japanese, for example. 

Being able to speak English is a good starting point for learning Spanish, as the two languages share many of the same Latin influences. For this reason, they use the same alphabet and have many similar words and structures. This similarity even extends to idioms and proverbs, many of which are almost the same in both languages; you can see this firsthand in our SpanishPod101 blog entry on Spanish Proverbs.

Another reason to consider the languages you speak is because bilinguals find it easier to learn a third language. Research shows that the more languages one knows, the easier it is for that person to learn a new foreign language. The human brain applies language skills from one language to another, so learning other languages can even improve your speaking skills in your native language! 

Which learning method are you following?

Time estimations on how long it takes to learn Spanish are usually based on classroom hours. However, there are many different types of methodologies when it comes to foreign language learning, and different methodologies can also coexist within a given classroom.

Are you learning Spanish in an academic environment? Or maybe you’re following SpanishPod101’s lessons? Are you consistently investing several hours a week, or casually using online tools when you feel like it?

Keep in mind that you need a balance between intensity and consistency to really master a language. Doing intensive training helps you take a big leap forward when learning a language, but you’ll quickly forget what you’ve learned if you’re not consistently practicing your knowledge afterward. Likewise, if you commit every week but invest little time, your progress will be very slow. 

If you’re interested in how to learn Spanish fast, remember: Balance is key!

A Row of Three Students Taking a Test in the Classroom

What methodology are you following to learn Spanish?

What’s your level of immersion?

Besides the hours you spend actually taking lessons and practicing what you’ve learned, the best way to learn Spanish fast is to surround yourself with the language as much as you can. In other words: Your level of immersion is very important.

Learning Spanish while living in downtown Madrid is not the same as having limited contact with the language a few hours per week in your classroom. But don’t worry, it’s not compulsory to move to a Spanish-speaking country! There are many ways to increase your exposure to Spanish and immerse yourself in the language. 

You can watch Spanish TV shows with English subtitles, read Spanish media, find a Spanish conversation partner or group, translate Spanish lyrics, and the list goes on… 

Later in this article, we’ll give you some more tips to increase your level of immersion in relation to your level of fluency.

How motivated are you?

The reason you’re learning Spanish has more influence on your learning progress than you might think. Are you moving to a Spanish-speaking country? Does your job require you to be fluent in Spanish? Do you have Spanish-speaking friends? Do you like Spanish pop music?

If you’re learning Spanish out of obligation, it’ll be harder for you to commit and you won’t progress very quickly. If that’s the case for you, try finding elements that motivate you based on your interests. For instance, watching Spanish football games or going to a Spanish cooking class could be just the extra motivation you need! 

The more incentives you have to learn a language, the faster you will learn. Your level of motivation will determine the amount of time and effort you’ll be willing to invest in learning Spanish. Try to always remember the reason you started your learning journey in the first place and, at the same time, search for new sources of motivation to avoid losing interest. 

    SpanishPod101’s blog is a great tool for learning new things and curious facts about the Spanish language and culture. Keep up with our latest posts to stay inspired!

What’s your objective?

In addition to your motivations, you should consider your objectives when you start learning a language. What level of fluency do you want to reach? Would you be satisfied with some basic knowledge to help you get around during a trip to Spain? Or maybe you want to be able to hold a one-on-one conversation in Spanish? Do you have your sights set on reaching a native level of fluency?

    → At SpanishPod101.com, you get lessons based on your goals and needs. You can start speaking Spanish from the first lesson!

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages has categorized knowledge of European languages into three levels: Basic (A), Intermediate (B), and Advanced (C). Here’s a quick breakdown: 

  • Basic User (A)
    • Breakthrough (A1)
    • Waystage (A2)
  • Independent User (B)
    • Threshold (B1)
    • Vantage (B2)
  • Proficient User (C)
    • Effective Operational Proficiency (C1)
    • Mastery (C2)

The Common Reference Framework also states the estimated number of hours needed to reach each level. Keep reading to find out what they are!

Asian and Caucasian Coworkers Chatting

Do you want to be proficient in Spanish in a professional environment?

Mastering the Basics

When you first start studying the Spanish language, you’ll learn how to engage in basic interactions and how to get by in a Spanish-speaking environment. Here are the two beginner levels and how long it takes to reach each one: 

Breakthrough > 90-100 hours: 

It takes between 90 and 100 hours to reach a basic level of Spanish that allows you to use and understand common everyday expressions and basic phrases. At this point, you can introduce yourself and talk about some personal details about where you live, your friends and family, etc. You can also hold a conversation if the other person speaks slowly and uses a basic vocabulary.

Waystage > 180-200 hours: 

The elementary level of Spanish can take you up to 200 hours to master. At this level, you can understand frequently used expressions in everyday life (such as asking for directions or tips for shopping). You’re able to describe your environment and have simple conversations about your current situation or familiar routines.

Here are some tips on how to learn Spanish faster at the Beginner stage:

Reaching an Intermediate Level

Wondering how long it takes to achieve an intermediate level of Spanish? Here’s some useful information on the two intermediate levels:

Threshold > 350-400 hours:

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages estimates that it takes around 350-400 hours to reach the Threshold level of Spanish. At this level, you can understand conversational and written input on everyday matters such as work, school, and leisure. You can also be independent when traveling to a Spanish-speaking country and give your opinion on plans or events. In addition, you can produce texts and describe abstract issues such as your dreams and hopes.

Vantage > 500-600 hours:

This level will take you between 500 and 600 hours to master. Once you do, you’ll be able to understand the main ideas of complex and technical texts. You’ll also be able to hold one-on-one conversations with a certain degree of fluency and spontaneity without causing strain on native speakers. Finally, you’ll be able to produce detailed texts on a wide range of topics while voicing your opinion.

Here are some tips you can follow to reach an intermediate level of fluency in Spanish:

Beautiful Buildings in Barcelona, Spain

An intermediate level of fluency in Spanish will help you interact with the locals in Barcelona.

Native-Like Fluency

If your ambition is to reach an advanced and proficient level of Spanish that allows you to blend in with the natives, pay attention to the following sections:

Effective Operational Proficiency > 700-800 hours:

If you want to learn Spanish fast, you need to be aware that the Effective Operational Proficiency level will take you up to 800 hours to achieve. Of course, at this level, you can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning. You can express yourself with fluency and flexibility in social, academic, or professional situations without searching for words or expressions too much. You’re able to produce complex and well-organized texts using connectors.

Mastery > 1000-1200 hours:

The top Spanish level is Mastery, which you’ll achieve after investing between 1000 and 1200 hours of your time. At this level, you can understand almost everything you hear or read. You’re able to summarize information and reconstruct arguments from different written and spoken sources. You can express yourself fluently and precisely, and you can distinguish between different shades of meaning in complex situations. 

If you’re looking to give your Spanish knowledge a boost and reach a proficient level, here are some things you can do:
  • Read Spanish newspapers on a daily basis.
  • Listen to Spanish podcasts. Of course, you can start with SpanishPod101!
  • Translate Spanish poetry into your native language.

Your Journey to Learning Spanish Starts Now!

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Did this article help motivate you? We hope so! The Spanish language is not only beautiful, but it can also be helpful in the professional and academic world as it’s the second most spoken language in the world. 

So, without further ado, let’s get on with it! At SpanishPod101.com, you’ll find tons of tools for learning Spanish that cater to a variety of levels, objectives, and interests. There are plenty of lessons, videos, and blog posts that will help you achieve your desired level of fluency in Spanish.

Start by planning a schedule, and then stick to it. Consistency and motivation are the keys to successfully learning a language. Savor this first step in your Spanish learning journey, and never give up.

See you soon, hasta pronto!

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The Top 30 Essential Spanish Proverbs

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Proverbs are an essential part of popular and oral culture. Often transmitted to children by the elder generations, they are language’s time capsules that carry a lot of history—and unique cultural perspective—with them.

Because proverbs from around the world have very different origins and have evolved from their original meanings over time, they can be difficult to understand without context or a good guide in hand.

Fortunately, we’ve got you covered! SpanishPod101 brings you the top thirty Spanish proverbs and sayings that will help you speak like a local (or at least understand why Spaniards say that the world is a handkerchief). 

Ready? Then let’s get started.

A Little Girl Hugging Her Mother from Behind

From that stick, that chip or like mother, like daughter!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Proverbs About Relationships
  2. Proverbs About Opportunity
  3. Proverbs About Personality
  4. Proverbs About Social Situations
  5. Proverbs About Life Situations
  6. Proverbs About Actions and Consequences
  7. Life Mottos
  8. Final Thoughts

1. Proverbs About Relationships

Wherever you live in the world, relationships are an essential part of everyday life. Here are some Spanish proverbs about family, friendship, and love to give you some cultural perspective!

#1

SpanishDe tal palo, tal astilla.
Literally“From such a stick, such a chip.”
EquivalentLike father, like son. / The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
This common Spanish proverb refers to the genetic characteristics or personality traits that sons and daughters inherit from their parents.

Ana tiene los mismos ojos que su madre. De tal palo, tal astilla.
“Ana has the same eyes as her mother. From that stick, that chip.”


#2

SpanishDime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres.
Literally“Tell me with whom you walk, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
EquivalentA man is known by the company he keeps.
This saying suggests that you can tell someone’s personality by their friends or company.

Usually, this phrase is used with a pejorative tone. It advises others to be mindful of the personal image they project when going around with “bad influences.”

#3

SpanishUn clavo saca otro clavo.
Literally“One nail drives out another.”
This Spanish proverb means that a new love interest helps one forget a heartbreak. It metaphorically refers to the pain of a romantic breakup as something that’s nailed onto you. 

The fun twist here is that the expression “echar un clavo” means “to have sex,” similar to the English “to screw someone.” So “Un clavo saca otro clavo” suggests that having sex with someone new can help you forget your ex.

#4

SpanishDios los cría y ellos se juntan.
Literally“God creates them and they get together.”
EquivalentBirds of a feather flock together.
Similar to “Dime con quien andas, y te diré quién eres,” this Spanish proverb has to do with the common traits of people who spend time together.

It means that we tend to get together with people who resemble us in personality or interests.

#5

SpanishOjos que no ven, corazón que no siente.
Literally“Eyes that don’t see, heart that doesn’t feel.”
EquivalentIf you don’t see it, you can’t feel it.
This popular Spanish proverb means that people don’t suffer for what they don’t know.

Nowadays, this saying refers to all types of situations, from politics to work. But it’s most commonly used in reference to romantic relationships in which one of the partners is cheating on the other without them knowing about it.


Two Birds Perched on a Branch

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

2. Proverbs About Opportunity

Opportunity: One of those things we all encounter, but far too often don’t recognize until it’s too late. Following are some common proverbs in Spanish that speak on opportunity and how to make the most of it! 

#6

SpanishMás vale pájaro en mano que cien volando.
Literally“A bird in the hand is more worthy than a hundred flying.”
EquivalentA bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
This Spanish proverb is nearly identical to its English equivalent, and it means that it’s better to make sure you keep what you have instead of taking risks that could make you lose everything.

It’s often used in money- or work-related situations as advice to ambitious people who are thinking of gambling or taking a big risk.

#7

SpanishA caballo regalado, no le mires el diente.
Literally“Don’t check the teeth of a gift horse.”
EquivalentNever look a gift horse in the mouth.
These wise words remind us not to be picky about something we’ve received for free or as a gift, and to be grateful even if you don’t like it a lot.

A: El coche que me ha dado la abuela no corre demasiado.
B: A caballo regalado, no le mires el diente.

A: “The car grandma gave me doesn’t go very fast.”
B: “Don’t check the teeth of a gifted horse.”

#8

SpanishA falta de pan, buenas son tortas.
Literally“In the absence of bread, cakes are good.”
EquivalentHalf a loaf is better than none.
This Spanish proverb emphasizes the importance of being flexible when things don’t go our way and valuing what we do have. 

Its English equivalent is “Half a loaf is better than none,” but it has a more pessimistic point of view. The Spanish expression is not about settling for less, but rather about settling for something different than what was expected.

    → As you can see, the Spanish value those who are grateful. Learn how to say “Thank You!” on SpanishPod101.com.

3. Proverbs About Personality

What do the Spanish have to say about personality and character traits? Here’s just a small sample…

#9

SpanishPerro ladrador, poco mordedor.
Literally“A barking dog, not much of a biter.”
EquivalentHis bark is worse than his bite.
This is one of the most-used proverbs in the world—we can find it, for instance, in the Spanish, Italian, and English languages. It’s believed to have originated somewhere in Eastern Europe.

It refers to people who can be very threatening with their words but won’t ever act on them.

A Monkey

Even if the monkey wears silk, it’s still a monkey!

#10

SpanishAunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda.
Literally“Even if the monkey wears silk, it remains a monkey.”
EquivalentYou can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
Funny Spanish proverbs are some of the Spaniard’s actual favorites. This one refers to ugly people who, even if they wear nice and expensive clothes and a lot of makeup, are still ugly.

In a more figurative sense, it talks about people who like to pretend they’re something they’re not.

#11

SpanishEn casa del herrero, cuchillo de palo.
Literally“In the house of the blacksmith, wooden knives.”
EquivalentThe shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.
This Spanish proverb refers to people who don’t follow the advice they give or don’t lead by example. It can also refer to the paradox of lacking something where it should be abundant.

¿Un médico que fuma? En casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo.
“A doctor who smokes? The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.”

4. Proverbs About Social Situations

What would we be without the people around us? Here are a few humorous Spanish-language proverbs regarding people and social situations. 

#12

SpanishÉramos pocos y parió la abuela.
Literally“We were a few and then the grandmother gave birth.”
EquivalentThat was all we needed.
This funny Spanish proverb is often used as a colloquial way to say that a situation got worse. It can also refer to a social situation in which there were too many people in one place, and many more arrived unexpectedly.

This is a sample of typical Spanish sarcasm, where an expression means the opposite of what it says.

#13

SpanishHablando del rey de Roma, que por la puerta asoma.
Literally“Speaking of the King of Rome, that comes through the door.”
EquivalentSpeak of the Devil and he shall appear.
This Spanish saying is very similar to its English counterpart. It’s used on those occasions when someone who is being talked about appears unexpectedly, especially when that person was being criticized. 

Originally, the expression didn’t say “rey, but “ruin” (meaning “mean” or “despicable”), so the connotation of the proverb was clearly negative.

A Woman Holding a Globe in Her Hands

It’s a small world.

#14

SpanishEl mundo es un pañuelo.
Literally“The world is a handkerchief.”
EquivalentIt’s a small world.
This proverb is commonly used as an expression of surprise when running into someone you know in a place you didn’t expect them to be.

Its reference to the handkerchief, however, has puzzled many linguists over the years. The most plausible theory for the origin of this Spanish saying is that the term “handkerchief” seems to refer to the first world maps, which were printed on fabric and could fit in one’s hand.

#15

SpanishCada loco con su tema.
Literally“Each crazy person with their topic.”
EquivalentTo each their own.
This expression can apply to two different situations. 

The first one is when, in a social gathering, no one is paying attention to the others and everyone is doing their own thing.

Its second meaning refers to the different obsessions that every person has. For example: 

A mi madre le gusta ver el fútbol y a mi padre la telenovela, cada loco con su tema.
“My mum likes watching soccer and my dad the soap opera, to each their own.”

5. Proverbs About Life Situations

The following Spanish proverbs about life situations lend us wisdom regarding the many circumstances we often find ourselves in. 

#16

SpanishTodos los caminos llevan a Roma.
EquivalentAll roads lead to Rome.
We can find this proverb in many languages, as it has been inherited directly from the Latin language. It might sound like an exaggeration, but during the time of the Roman Empire, it made a lot of sense. The Romans built a network of roads that could take a person from any point in the Empire to Rome, the capital.

The contemporary version refers to the different ways in which an objective can be reached.

#17

SpanishNo todo el monte es orégano.
Literally“Not all the hill is oregano.”
EquivalentLife is not a bed of roses.
This expression alludes to the difficulties that are presented to us throughout the course of our lives.

For example, one could say this when they really enjoy the college degree they’re studying, but have to take a very difficult exam: 

Normalmente me parecen fáciles las clases de Medicina, pero no todo el monte es orégano.
“I usually find that Medicine lessons are easy, but life is not a bed of roses.”

#18

SpanishUna golondrina no hace verano.
EquivalentOne swallow does not make a summer.
This expression is found in both English and Spanish, and it warns us that an isolated event is not always an indicator of what is to come. 

There are longer versions of this proverb, as well: 

Una golondrina no hace verano, ni una sola virtud bienaventurado.
“One swallow does not make a summer, nor a single virtue a blessed person.”

Ni un dedo hace una mano, ni una golondrina verano.
“One finger does not make a hand, nor does a swallow make summer.”

Three Walnuts, with One of Them Broken Open

Much noise and few walnuts…

#19

SpanishMucho ruido y pocas nueces.
Literally“Much noise and few walnuts.”
EquivalentMuch ado about nothing.
This phrase is the translation of the title of the famous Shakespearean comedy Much Ado About Nothing, written in 1600.

It’s a popular proverb about people who make a fuss about something that really isn’t important. 

6. Proverbs About Actions and Consequences

You may have heard the popular quips, “Actions have consequences,” and “What goes up must come down.” But what do the Spanish have to say on the topic? 

#20

SpanishDar en el clavo.
Equivalent“Hit the nail on the head.”
This Spanish idiom is used when something is spot-on, like when a decision has been proven to be the right one.

El regalo le ha encantado a Manuel, hemos dado en el clavo.
“Manuel loved the present; we hit the nail on the head.”

The Spanish City of Seville

Don’t go to Seville, unless you want to lose your chair!

#21

SpanishQuien va a Sevilla, pierde su silla.
Literally“He who goes to Seville, loses its chair.”
This proverb is used in countless situations, and it refers to losing privileges because of abandoning them temporarily. It’s a favorite proverb among children; they use it to claim an actual chair when the person that was using it gets up for a moment.

This expression refers to an historical event that occurred in 1460. The archbishop of Seville Alonso de Fonseca left to solve a dispute in Galicia and left his nephew in charge, who refused to give up the chair once his uncle came back.

#22

SpanishEl que ríe último, ríe mejor.
EquivalentHe who laughs last laughs best.
This common proverb warns us not to declare victory before the war is over, as life can be full of surprises.

Hoy has ganado la partida, pero quien ríe último ríe mejor.
“Today you’ve won the match, but he who laughs last laughs best.”

#23

SpanishTira la piedra y esconde la mano.
Literally“He throws the stone and hides the hand.”
This Spanish proverb is used to talk about someone who does something and doesn’t take responsibility for his or her actions.

It has a very pejorative connotation, as it’s often used to describe someone as cowardly or malicious.

#24

SpanishCría fama y échate a dormir.
Literally“Raise fame and lie down to sleep.”
EquivalentYour reputation follows you.
This saying means that, once you’ve created a reputation for yourself, it will precede you and be difficult to change. It can be used in both positive and negative situations; for example, everyone may think you’re a good person (positive) or the word on the street could be that you’re tight with money (negative).

Spanish proverbs and their meanings are very indicative of the country’s culture. You can see this in the use of “lie down to sleep.” Oftentimes, people who got somewhere without much effort are depicted as lazy (and lazy in Spain is characterized as someone who loves siesta or naps).

#25

SpanishEl que parte y reparte, se queda la mejor parte.
EquivalentHe who distributes ends up with the best part.
This Spanish proverb refers to the fact that someone who has access to something ends up keeping the best for themselves. It’s often used when talking about money-related corruption.

Someone Hitting Snooze on Their Alarm Clock

The early bird catches the worm.

7. Life Mottos

Many people have mottos, expressions, or mantras they use for daily guidance or wisdom. So let’s conclude our Spanish proverbs list with some popular life mottos! 

#26

SpanishA quien madruga, Dios le ayuda.
Literally“He who wakes up early is helped by God.”
EquivalentThe early bird catches the worm.
This Catholic expression is used to encourage people to wake up early so they can make the most of their day. It’s mainly used in non-religious situations and often by non-religious people.

#27

SpanishEl que no llora, no mama.
Literally“He who doesn’t cry, doesn’t nurse.”
EquivalentThe squeaky wheel gets the grease.
This saying means that when you want something, you have to ask for it. Frequently, it’s used when someone complains too late about not having received something they wanted:

A: ¿No me habéis dejado pizza? ¡Yo también quería!
B: ¡El que no llora, no mama!

A: “You didn’t leave any pizza for me? I wanted a slice!”
B: “He who doesn’t cry, doesn’t nurse!”

#28

SpanishQuerer es poder.
Literally“To want is to be able to.”
EquivalentWhere there is a will, there is a way.
This motto states that if you put in the effort to get something, you’ll get it. It highlights the importance of willpower, determination, and perseverance.

#29

SpanishMás vale prevenir que curar.
Literally“Better anticipate than treat.”
EquivalentBetter safe than sorry.
This wise Spanish proverb is a moral lesson on precaution. It means that it’s better to anticipate a bad situation before it’s too late to solve the problem.

A funny variation is: Más vale sudar que estornudar. (“Better to sweat than to sneeze.”) It’s used by parents who cover their children with warm clothes to prevent them from catching a cold.

#30

SpanishNunca digas de esta agua no beberé.
Literally“Never say ‘I won’t ever drink from that water.’”
EquivalentNever say never.
As much as we hate something, we cannot ever be sure that we won’t do it at some point.

This common Spanish proverb has a humorous longer version that says: 

Nunca digas de esta agua no beberé ni este cura es mi padre.
“Never say ‘I won’t ever drink from that water,’ nor ‘this priest is not my father.’”


8. Final Thoughts

Learning Spanish proverbs will not only prove useful in many life situations, but it will also help you get to know the unique Spanish culture and worldview. Did we miss any topics? Let us know, and be sure to share this guide if you enjoyed it! 

If you’re thinking about starting Spanish lessons, why not begin by checking out SpanishPod101.com? We offer different plans to cater to a variety of learning styles, lessons suited for different levels, and a blog with tons of free resources about the Spanish language and culture.

And, if you still need a little push, watch this video on our YouTube channel to discover some great reasons you should learn Spanish. Good luck with your lessons on SpanishPod101.com, and remember that querer es poder!

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Barcelona Travel Guide: Explore This Unique Spanish City

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While Europe is home to a rich collection of heavily touristed cities, Barcelona is one of its most popular thanks to its beauty, unique sights, vibrant nightlife and cultural life, budget-friendly options, nice weather…and don’t forget the beach! Millions of people from all over the world visit—and subsequently fall in love with—this lively Spanish city each year.

If you’re planning to visit Barcelona, it’s important that you prepare for your trip. Although many sights are within walking distance of each other, there are so many places to visit in Barcelona that you need to plan ahead in order to make the most of your time there. Preparing well in advance also gives you time to adjust your plan to meet your budget and take the needed precautions regarding safety, weather, and language barriers.

But look no further, as you’ve come to the right place! This Barcelona Travel Guide from SpanishPod101 will give you the best tips to help you see the best attractions and really enjoy yourself!

Pink Flowers, with La Sagrada Familia in the Background

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Before You Go
  2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip
  3. Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)
  4. Survival Spanish Phrases for Travelers
  5. Final Thoughts

1. Before You Go

Barcelona is Spain’s second-largest city and is the capital of Catalonia, a semi-autonomous region in the northeastern part of the country. The city offers a mix of beautiful sights, quirky neighborhoods, attractive culture and gastronomy, and a vibrant nightlife that attracts all kinds of tourism.

The best time to visit Barcelona is in early spring or fall when temperatures are mild and the city is not so crowded. Although winters are not extremely cold, the days are shorter so you can’t count on spending much time outdoors. Summers are quite hot and humid, with average daytime temperatures hanging around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). The city is also very crowded during that time of year, which makes the visit less pleasant and more expensive. The clothes you should pack depends entirely on the time of year you visit, but it’s a good idea to take an umbrella with you during the spring and fall, as showers are quite common.

Public transportation is a good and affordable option for getting around Barcelona, although many sights are within easy walking distance of each other. Walking allows you to get lost in the quirky streets of some of the most beautiful quarters, which are some of the true beauties Barcelona has to offer. However, if you need to take public transportation, both the metro and bus systems work perfectly—the bus even has good night service. Make sure to buy the integrated ticket, which allows you to take any public transportation in the city.

A Narrow Street in the Old City of Barcelona

A narrow street in the Old City of Barcelona

Despite the city’s grandeur, it is possible to visit Barcelona on a budget. There are thousands of choices when it comes to lodging, and you can find hotels, hostels, and Airbnb starting at around 20€ per night. Meals can be tricky, though; it’s important to avoid the most touristic spots as they charge much more. Look for less crowded streets and ask for the menú del día or “daily menu,” a fixed-price menu usually cheaper than the à la carte menu. 

Because Barcelona is a very touristic city, you should expect crowds—really big crowds. For most attractions in Barcelona, you should make sure to arrive with plenty of time to spare, as you’ll likely be waiting in a long line. Also be aware that there’s an increasing discomfort among Barcelona locals regarding some kinds of tourists that visit the city, as well as the gentrification process it’s going through. Try to be respectful when interacting with locals, try not to make noise at night (especially on weeknights), and understand that some places (such as public transportation) are transit points for people going to work or school.

The Catalan language is co-official with Spanish, and it’s used in all public signaling. Most locals are bilingual and almost all of them speak Spanish, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice what you’ve learned in your SpanishPod101 lessons. But don’t worry if you have limited knowledge of the Spanish language. It’s very easy to get around speaking English, especially in the more touristic spots.

And, lastly, some final practical tips: 

Spain is part of the Schengen Agreement, so you don’t need a visa to visit but you do need a valid passport

The currency of the country is the euro. You can exchange currency in many spots, especially in the most touristic areas, and there are also plenty of ATMs available. 

As for safety tips, beware of pickpockets! They tend to be in the most crowded places, so take good care of your passport and cell phone, and try to divide your cash between different pockets or people in your party. That said, don’t worry too much about robberies or violent crimes, as they are not frequent. Overall, Barcelona is a safe and peaceful city.


2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip

When visiting a big city like Barcelona, it’s crucial to adapt the list of places you’ll visit—and how you get to them—according to the total time you’ll have. So, if you want to really visit Barcelona in three days or less, here is some advice: 

  • Stick to the must-see places.
  • Take public transportation. 
  • Limit the time you spend wandering around the city’s streets. (Believe us, it’s very easy to get trapped in the beauty of some quarters and lose track of time!)

Here are the best places to visit in Barcelona for a shorter trip: 

Sagrada Familia

First up, the Sagrada Familia. The famous church is probably the most internationally well-known symbol of the city. The name translates to “the Sacred Family,” and it’s a Catholic cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudí, one of the best architects in history. Gaudí began designing the Sagrada Familia back in 1882 and, because of its exceptional and complex design, it’s still under construction almost a century after the architect’s death. Its beauty and uniqueness make it one of the must-see places in Barcelona, no matter the length of your trip. Don’t forget to book your ticket in advance!

Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas, featured in just about every Barcelona travel guide, is one of the spots you can hardly miss when visiting this Spanish city. Right at the heart of the Old City, this vibrant and crowded boulevard divides the Raval quarter (a quirky and artistic neighborhood with a lively mix of immigrant communities and splendid nightlife), and the Gothic quarter (a stunning medieval-esque area which is home of the Catalan and municipal governments as well as the Barcelona Cathedral). It provides easy access for people with mobility problems and it’s a cool shopping spot.

Plaza Real

In the Gothic quarter, we find another one of the best places to visit in Barcelona: the Plaza Real. This “Royal Square” is full of palm trees and is a real delight to the eyes. It’s a great and romantic place to have a little rest in the afternoon, having a drink in one of the many terraces. However, when the evening comes, Plaza Real becomes one of the hottest nightlife spots. If you’re wondering what to visit in Barcelona at night, this is one of the best places for a fun time, whether you just want to drink a cocktail in one of the bars or dance in some of the coolest clubs in the city.

La Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona.

La Barceloneta beach in Barcelona.

La Barceloneta

If you chose to visit Barcelona because of the beach, you cannot miss La Barceloneta. It’s the most famous and centric beach in the city (and also very crowded in the summertime). But La Barceloneta is much more than a beach: it’s also the old fishermen quarter. This beautiful neighborhood is currently in a precarious balance between the authenticity of the locals and mass tourism. However, the locals still resist and continue some of the traditions that give this area such an attractive charisma, such as hanging up the washing in the balconies and growing plants on the streets.

Bunkers del Carmel

Finally, if you have very little time to visit Barcelona, you cannot miss the best view of the city from the Bunkers del Carmel. This viewpoint is an old anti-aircraft battery from the Spanish Civil War times. You need to take public transportation to get there, and it should be taken into account that it’s not wheelchair-friendly. However, if you have the chance, it’s worth the visit! You will get to experience a 360-degree panoramic view of the whole city, with the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the Collserola Mountains on the other. Try to avoid visiting the Bunkers over the weekend, as it gets crowded. And if you feel like getting up early, the view of the sunrise is spectacular. Oh, and did we mention that admission is free?

3. Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)

If you have the opportunity to plan a longer trip, here are a few extra places to visit in Barcelona that you should add to your list. Take into account that you can elongate your visits to each spot by just forgetting the map and walking around the narrow city streets to get lost in their beauty and uniqueness.

Barrio de Gracia

Barrio de Gracia is one of those places where you could walk for hours, finding special corners and amazing little shops. This quarter used to be an old independent town that, when Barcelona grew in the nineteenth century as a result of the great boom of the Catalan industry, was annexed to the city as it is today. Gracia is home to artists, young people, and bohemian people from all over the world, and it’s also one of the most politically and socially active communities. Every August, the Barrio de Gracia celebrates its own festivities, and neighbors decorate the streets, organize concerts, and throw parties in a big show of creativity.


Park Güell

Another gem that Barcelona offers visitors is Park Güell. This was also designed by Gaudí, the Catalan architect responsible for the Sagrada Familia. This park is like none other in the world. As you come in, you’re welcomed by a colorful dragon fountain in the middle of a sinuous staircase. There’s also a forest-like porch full of columns and a viewpoint with the characteristic mosaic benches that offer you a nice view of the city. It’s worth spending some time to enjoy the beauty of the place. Unfortunately, admission isn’t free for tourists anymore as it used to get too overcrowded, so you should book tickets in advance.

Santa María del Mar

Santa María del Mar is a Gothic-style church in the heart of the Born quarter. As it’s hidden inside those narrow streets, you cannot see it until you’re right in front of it. For the same reason, it’s almost impossible to take a full picture of the facade and the mighty two tall bell towers. Lovers of old European architecture will enjoy the typical bare walls of the Catalan Gothic on the inside, and all visitors will appreciate the majesty of its columns, its high ceiling, and its solemnity. The Born quarter is also attractive to history lovers, and it has plenty of special bars and little restaurants for curious tourists who are willing to dive into the endless narrow streets.

The Santa Maria del Mar Church in the Born quarter of Barcelona

The Santa Maria del Mar Church in the Born quarter of Barcelona

Camp Nou Stadium

An obligatory stop in Barcelona for sports and football fans is the Camp Nou Stadium. This is the famous home of the Barcelona football team and one of the biggest attractions in the city. Spanish football culture is huge, with people from all over the world going crazy for the Barcelona team—right alongside the locals. Apart from the match days, you can go on guided visits inside the Camp Nou Stadium and in the Barcelona team museum, which is actually the most-visited museum in the whole region of Catalonia. 

Montjuïc Hill

And lastly, your Barcelona travel plan should also include the landmark hill of Montjuïc. Apart from the nice views that this seaside hill offers, there’s a park with nearly endless activities and places to visit. There’s the National Art Museum, the Montjuïc Castle, a miniature village, the Olympic Stadium, and pool facilities… Originally, Montjuïc was one of the first inhabited places in what is now Barcelona. Here, you will find an ancient Jewish cemetery as well as the modern Barcelona cemetery. As you can see, you won’t run out of possibilities when visiting Montjuïc.

4. Survival Spanish Phrases for Travelers 

As we mentioned before, it’s quite easy to get around Barcelona speaking English. However, speaking a little Spanish will definitely be of use, especially if you don’t want to visit only the highly touristic parts of the city. Here are ten Spanish survival phrases for travelers:

  1. Hola. (“Hello.”)

    This universally known Spanish greeting is the go-to when entering a place or meeting someone. Also, it’s the exact same word the Catalan language uses! If you want to learn more Spanish greeting expressions, check out our lesson on How to Say Hello in Spanish.
  1. Gracias. (“Thank you.”)

    There’s a Spanish proverb that says: Es de bien nacido ser agradecido. It means something along the lines of: “Being grateful is being kind.” Say gracias to staff members in hotels, restaurants, museums, public transportation… Everybody loves a grateful tourist!
  1. Adiós. (“Goodbye.”)

    This expression is commonly used for saying goodbye to someone, whether it means “see you later” or is a more definite goodbye. It’s polite to say it when leaving restaurants or shops.
  1. Perdona. (“Sorry.” / “Excuse me.” / “Pardon.”)

    You can say perdona when you bump into someone or when you need to ask for someone’s attention, like a waiter in a restaurant or someone in the street when you need to ask directions. Check out SpanishPod101’s blog post on asking directions to learn more about this. When you say perdona as a question, it also means that you haven’t understood what someone has said.
  1. Muy bien. / Muy bueno. (“Very good.”)

    Both muy bien and muy bueno mean “very good,” but the one you should use depends on the situation. For instance, you would say muy bien when asked how you slept and muy bueno when asked how the wine was.
  1. Lo siento, no te entiendo. (“I’m sorry, I don’t understand you.”)

    This is a common sentence that all travelers need to know in order to survive a Spanish conversation that’s above their level of knowledge. It’s polite and might help you gain the local person’s sympathy.
  1. ¿Dónde está el baño? (“Where’s the bathroom?”)

    Another basic phrase when visiting Spain. You can add a perdona in front of the phrase if you want to be even more polite.
  1. ¿Cuánto cuesta? (“How much is it?”)

    Whenever you want to know the price of an item in a shop or of a meal in a restaurant, you can use this expression. Alternatively, you could say: ¿Cuánto vale?
  1. Quiero esto. (“I want this.”)

    This is another expression that can be used while shopping or ordering food. If you want to use the more polite version, similar to “I would like this,” you can say: Querría esto.
  1. ¡Ayuda! (“Help!”)

    Whenever you find yourself in an emergency situation, whether you need help with your suitcase because it’s too heavy or you’re in actual danger, you can scream ¡Ayuda! If the situation is extreme and you’re in need of urgent assistance from the police, you can also use the word ¡Socorro!

The National Art Museum in Montjuïc Hill, Barcelona

The National Art Museum in Montjuïc Hill, Barcelona

Final Thoughts 

Barcelona is an ideal vacation destination as it can fulfill a large variety of personal interests and can be adapted for all budgets. We hope that reading this Barcelona travel guide got you excited to plan a trip to this beautiful and special Spanish city. 

What did you think of our recommendations for the best places to visit in Barcelona? Did we miss any important spots?

Now is a great time for you to practice your Spanish! Apart from the ten expressions we taught you in this guide, you can learn even more Common Spanish Phrases you might need for your trip.

Learning Spanish with SpanishPod101 before you head off on your next adventure will allow you to make deeper connections with locals and have a more meaningful travel experience. We hope to see you around!

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English Words Used in Spanish: Do You Speak Spanglish?

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All over the world, the use of words borrowed from the English language is rapidly growing. The internet, social media, and the internationalization of American cultural products are among the biggest “English word exporters.”

However, several factors have created a special bond between the Spanish and English languages. For starters, the proximity between the U.S. and Latin America (which is home to the largest number of Spanish speakers in the world) has allowed a great cultural exchange—and with it, an important language exchange. As such, there are several English words used in Spanish and Spanish words used in English. 

There is a huge Latin American community living in the United States, and this community has brought elements of the Latin American culture and language into the country. Spanish spoken in the U.S. has changed with time, giving birth to Spanglish: the excessive mixing of English and Spanish by Spanish speakers. 

Nonetheless, the mixing of Spanish and English words is not exclusive to Latinos living in the U.S. The use of English words in the Spanish language is present in every Spanish-speaking country, and the language exchange has actually happened both ways! There are numerous words used in the English language that come from Spanish.

In this article, you’ll learn everything about Spanglish, imported English words used in Spanish, and Spanish words used in English. We’ll show you the most popular words and how they are used, so you’ll never be caught off-guard. 
Are you ready to take your Spanish speaking to a whole new level with SpanishPod101? Then let’s begin.

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Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. What is Spanglish?
  2. Some Common Spanglish Words
  3. English Loanwords vs. Spanglish
  4. How are Anglicisms Used in Spanish?
  5. Borrowed Spanish Words Used in English
  6. La Despedida

1. What is Spanglish?

Spanglish isn’t something new—it’s a complex linguistic phenomenon that has been building for years now. Some linguists affirm that it dates back to the times when a great part of the North American territory was actually a part of Mexico. Others date it to more recent years, with the immigration of numerous people of Latin American origin into the U.S.

Spanglish is basically a mix between Spanish and English in speech. While it is not an official language and there are no rules about its usage, a lot of people use it in their daily lives. But how did it originate and where does it come from?

The Latin population in the U.S. and the hybridization between Spanish and English

Currently, there are about 30 million people of Hispanic origin living in the United States. Around 60% of this population is bilingual, using both English and Spanish in their daily lives. These bilingual speakers sometimes have a very particular way of mixing English and Spanish when speaking, using what we now call Spanglish.

Some of these newcomers to the U.S. did not speak English when they arrived, so in their effort to communicate, they would mix Spanish with the English words they did know. This way of speaking has passed through generations, and for some, it has become a part of their identity.

With time, the new generations born in the U.S. (whose first language was English) started taking words or expressions from English and using them in Spanish with their own literal translations. Some of these words became so common that they are now widely used and have become a part of the Spanish jargon.

Here’s an example:

EnglishSpanglishCorrect Spanish Translation
“to call back”llamar para atrásllamar de vuelta

Another thing that happens in Spanglish is the “Spanization” of English words. For example:

EnglishSpanglishCorrect Spanish Translation
“to park”parquearseestacionarse

Who speaks Spanglish?

Tacos in Los Angeles

Tacos in Los Angeles

As we mentioned before, Spanglish was born in the U.S., and it’s widely spoken in Spanish-speaking communities in North America. This is especially common in states like California, Texas, and New York, which have very large Hispanic populations.

However, the phenomenon of Spanglish has expanded. In northern Mexico, a lot of people use Spanglish regularly. This is also the case in Central America, particularly in areas of Panama that were heavily influenced by America during the construction of the Panama Canal. Some linguists have also found Spanglish jargon used in Hispanic communities living in Australia and New Zealand.

2. Some Common Spanglish Words

Here are a few more Spanglish examples you’re likely to hear:

English SpanglishActual Spanish Translation
Actually ActualmenteEn realidad
To checkChequearVerificar
To freezeFrizarCongelar
To watchWacharMirar
To rentRentarAlquilar
To parkParquearEstacionarse

Confusing, right? 

Well, it’s just a matter of getting used to managing Spanish and English at the same time. Once you get the hang of it, the words start to flow. 

Some of these words are actually so widely used that they have remained in use all over Latin America. A good example is rentar, which a lot of people don’t even know comes from the English word “rent.”

3. English Loanwords vs. Spanglish

Loanwords are another story. They are foreign words that become part of another language’s common vocabulary without a translation. This is something that happens in every language.

Many English loanwords used in Spanish are related to technology. Here are some examples:

  • Influencer
  • Email
  • Click
  • Google
  • Hack

Most of these words are adapted for or assimilated into the Spanish language. For example, verbs tend to be conjugated according to Spanish conjugation rules. Other loanwords remain unassimilated and are used exactly as they’re used in English.

We’ll explain this in more detail later in the article. For now, have a look at some of the most common English words used in Spanish.

In Sports

A Man Riding a Wave on a Surfboard

To surf (Surfear)

SpinningTengo clase de Spinning en el gimnasio.
“I have a spinning class at the gym.”
SurfEste fin de semana iré a surfear.
 “This weekend I will go surfing.”
PenaltyEl partido se definió por penaltis.
 “The match was defined by penalties.”
Football El futbol es mi deporte favorito.
“Football is my favorite sport.”
GoalEl equipo anotó 3 goles.
“The team scored three goals.”

At the Restaurant

SandwichTengo antojo de un sandwich.
“I am craving a sandwich.”
CocktailLa margarita es mi cóctel favorito.
“Margarita is my favorite cocktail.”
KetchupQuiero una hamburguesa sin catsup, por favor.
“I want a burger without ketchup, please.”
PieVoy a hornear un pay.
“I will bake a pie.”
ToppingQuiero un helado con topping de chocolate.
“I want an ice cream with chocolate topping.”

At Work

MarketingTrabajo en marketing.
“I work in marketing.”
InternSoy intern en una ONG.
“I am an intern at an NGO.”
EmailTe enviaré un email.
“I will send you an email.”
Home officeUna vez al mes hago home office.
“I work from home once a month.”
ITEl equipo de IT arreglará tu computadora.
“The IT team will fix your computer.”

Traveling

Women in Check in Counter

To check in (Hacer check in)

Check inTenemos que hacer check-in en el hotel.
“We have to check in at the hotel.”
Check outEl check-out es a las 12.
“Checkout is at 12.”
LoftRenté un loft en la playa.
“I rented a loft at the beach.”
VoucherLa aerolinea me dio un voucher.
“The airline gave me a voucher.”
All-inclusiveMe quedaré en un all inclusive estas vacaciones.
“This holiday, I will stay at an all-inclusive.”

4. How are Anglicisms Used in Spanish?

As we mentioned earlier, English words used in Spanish are often merged into the language and are “hispanicized.” This means they are adapted phonologically, graphically, and orthographically to the Spanish language. For example:

Verbs are given a Spanish conjugation.

Voy a googlear eso. “I will Google that.”
Hackearon mi computadora. “My computer was hacked.”

Words are also hispanicized in their pronunciation.

Voy a jugar voleibol. “I will play volleyball.”
Hace frío afuera, voy a usar un suéter.“It is cold outside, I will wear a sweater.”

However, language experts suggest that the correct way to use English words in Spanish is to maintain their original spelling and pronunciation:

Soy un ingeniero de software. → I am a software engineer.

If you want to learn more about how to pronounce words in Spanish like a native, check out this lesson series!

Is it correct to use Anglicisms in Spanish?

The evolution of languages is a common thing, especially in our globalized society. The inclusion of foreign words in a language is part of this evolution and is something that just can’t be avoided.

However, RAE (Real Academia Española de la Lengua), the biggest authority on the Spanish language, suggests avoiding the use of unnecessary anglicisms, especially when there are Spanish words available.

The use of English words in Spanish changes greatly from country to country. Inhabitants of countries with stronger cultural ties to the U.S., such as Panama, commonly use English words in their vocabulary. Countries like Spain, on the other hand, are more protective toward the purity of the language and tend to have fewer English words incorporated into their vocabulary.

5. Borrowed Spanish Words Used in English

English and Spanish speakers have been exchanging their cultures and languages for centuries, and the relationship goes both ways. As such, there are many borrowed Spanish words used in English. 

As you may know, a big part of the United States’ territory used to be part of Mexico about one and a half centuries ago. The Mexican influence in the southern U.S. is especially evident in the number of Mexican Spanish words used in English. 

Now, with the growing number of Americans of Hispanic origin, there are more and more Spanish words being used in English. It’s interesting to note that while many of the English words commonly used in Spanish are verbs, most Spanish words used in English are nouns.

    → Would you like to learn more about Mexican Spanish? Find all the basics in this quick lesson.

Food

Mexican food is extremely popular in America, so many of the Mexican words in English are food-related.

A Plate of Hardshell Tacos with Peppers

Jalapeños (Hot peppers)“I want nachos with jalapeños.
Quiero nachos con jalapeños.
Cocoa (From ‘cacao,’ the fruit used to make chocolate)“I’d like to drink hot cocoa.
Me gustaría tomar chocolate caliente.
Avocado (Anglicization of Spanish aguacate)“Avocado is my favorite fruit.
El aguacate es mi fruta favorita.
Quesadilla (Mexican meal)“I ate some quesadillas at the Mexican restaurant.
Comí quesadillas en el restaurante mexicano.
Tamale (Mexican meal)“My grandma makes delicious tamales.
Mi abuela hace tamales deliciosos.
    → Craving some Mexican food? Learn how to order it in Mexican Spanish like a pro in this lesson!

Animals and Nature

Canyon (A deep valley)“I want to visit the Grand Canyon.
Quiero visitar el gran cañón.
Arroyo (A creek or wash)“Let’s refresh our hands in the arroyo.
Refresquémos nuestras manos en el arroyo.
Tornado (Funnel-shaped windstorm)“We have to find shelter before the tornado.
Tenemos que buscar refugio antes del tornado.
Sierra (Chain of mountains)“The Sierra Nevada crosses the state of California.
La sierra nevada cruza el estado de california.
Mosquito (Insect)“Mosquitos come out at sunset.
Los mosquitos salen al atardecer.
    → Would you like to learn more about insect names in Spanish? Then don’t miss our Bugs and Insects vocabulary list!

People and Places

Fiesta (Party)“The village had a fiesta for its patron saint.
El pueblo tuvo una fiesta para su santo patrono.
Patio (Terrace, porch)“I will go get some sun on the patio.
Voy a tomar sol en el patio.
Ranch (Large farm)“They have hundreds of cows on the ranch.
Tienen cientos de vacas en el rancho.
Aficionado (Fan)“I am a jazz aficionado.
Soy un aficionado del jazz.
Conquistador (Conqueror)“The Spanish conquistadores arrived in Cuba in 1492.
Los conquistadores españoles llegaron a Cuba en 1492.

Well, these are just some of the most common Spanish words used in English—there are many more! In Spanish, the pronunciation of many of these words is anglicized to adapt to their English-language counterparts. 

La Despedida

In this guide, you’ve learned about the strong bond between the Spanish and English languages. After reading through so many language exchange examples, can you think of any words we missed? 

This is just an overview, and with time, you’ll become more fluent in Spanish and start having conversations with Spanish speakers. The more you converse, the more you’ll realize that the Spanglish phenomenon is more diverse than you could imagine and that it manifests itself differently from one Spanish-speaking country to another. 

If you want to learn more Spanish vocabulary and become a master of the language, don’t forget to check out SpanishPod101’s resource library. You can find vocabulary lists, a lesson library, and flashcards to make your learning process fun and easy. 

And don’t forget that SpanishPod101 also offers personalized one-on-one lessons with a professional teacher. Just sign up for a Premium PLUS account, and your teacher can guide you through each step of your learning journey and expedite your progress.

Happy learning y hasta luego!

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The Spanish Culture: A Guide to the Peculiarities of Spain

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Are you planning on visiting Spain? This European country has many peculiarities you might not have heard about before, but no fear! Here you’ll find all you need to know to immerse yourself in the Spanish culture.

The culture of Spain is very unique, colored by its people’s outlook on life. Studying the Spanish language and culture opens a window to the country’s rich history, tradition, and lifestyle, beyond the clichés of paella, flamenco, and siesta.

In this guide, you’ll find the key Spanish culture facts you need to get a closer look at life in this sunny and lively Mediterranean country.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Values and Beliefs
  2. Family and Work
  3. Religions
  4. Traditional Holidays
  5. Food
  6. Art
  7. Final Thoughts

1. Values and Beliefs

Pink Flowers in Barcelona, Spain with the Sagrada Família in the Distance

The richness of Spanish culture is largely due to the complex history of Spain and its territorial distribution. The Iberian Peninsula has always been a transit point, a gateway between Africa and Europe. Therefore, many civilizations—such as the Phoenicians, the Romans, and the Arabs—have passed through or settled in what is now modern Spain, leaving their mark on the Spanish culture.

Spain is also considered a ‘nation of nations,’ which means that some regions have their own culture. Some of these regions even have their own languages—Catalan, Galician, Basque, and Occitan—that have co-official status with the Spanish language. 

The coexistence of different cultures within the same state makes national identity a sensitive issue, and people have even been known to dispute the presence of the Spanish Flag. The country’s imperial past is one reason for this division within the Spanish population. Many argue that the celebration of the Spanish National Day, which marks the date the Spanish conquerors arrived in America, is a disregard of all the suffering caused to its native peoples.

All this plurality has also had an impact on Spanish political culture, which has always been considered complex and often polarized. The country has been historically divided into two political entities: 

  • A more hierarchical-type society of conservative values and centralist tendencies
  • Its rebellious counterpart which is known for some of the regions’ pro-independence movements 

Spanish democracy is only 43 years old. Still, the footprint of the Spanish Civil War and the 36-year Franco dictatorship still impact and polarize the Spanish population.

Overall, Spanish culture shares many similarities with those of other Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Greece, and even Morocco and other North African countries. Spanish culture values collective life, or the concept of working as a community and sharing life with others. One of the first things that strikes first-time visitors to Spain is how vibrant its streets are and how the Spanish population seems to enjoy spending time in the streets. This love of time outdoors may be partly due to Spain’s famous nice weather (which is actually not so typical in the rainy Northern regions!).

Triangular Flags Hung for a Festival in Spain

2. Family and Work

Spanish family values are central to Spanish culture. The mentioned collective-oriented aspect of its Mediterranean character is represented in the archetypical Spanish family, in which family members share close bonds and tend to gather frequently. In Spanish culture, family is considered one of the fundamental pillars of every person’s life.

As for the structure of the Spanish family, grandparents tend to be the junction point, acting as “patriarchs” or “matriarchs.” Family gatherings usually happen around shared meals, and that’s one of the reasons why Spain’s food culture is so important. Although it’s not so common anymore, different generations in a family used to live together under the same roof. Even today, children’s upbringing is often shared with the grandparents, especially because their parents’ jobs typically require long working hours.

The fact that Spaniards work more hours than the average European is the differential element of the Spanish workplace culture. This aspect is crucial to the Spanish lifestyle as it challenges work-life balance and shapes the way people spend their time. Areas of life affected by this work culture include:

  • school and after-school activities
  • commercial hours
  • television’s prime time
  • Spanish people’s meals and bedtime, which is later than in neighboring countries

The misleading cliché of the siesta or nap gives foreigners the impression that the Spanish people have an easy-going, or even lazy, character. But as the data shows, this is not close to reality. People also see this cliché as being a differentiating factor between Spanish regions, especially when comparing the North and the South. However, the reality is that individual work values are generally the same across regions. The difference lies in the types of economy, with the North being more industrial and the South being more agricultural. Thus, in the South, the hot weather keeps people from working in the fields at the warmest hours.

Because of Spain’s long history of high unemployment rates, Spanish people are often conservative about their professional careers and tend to avoid taking risky moves. Entrepreneurship and business culture in Spain face many challenges, especially because of the country’s demanding fiscal system. That’s why most people long for stable wage labor, and why working for the public system is regarded as a successful career.


3. Religions

Spain is a secular state and its Constitution protects its people’s freedom of belief. Catholic Christianity is the dominant religion, but non-practicing Catholics represent almost half of the population—only around 25% are practicing Catholics. Spanish culture and tradition, however, are deeply influenced by Catholicism even among non-practicing Catholics, atheists, and agnostics.

The long history of Spain as a Catholic state and the social status of the Catholic church in the country influence Spanish people’s public and private lives. This includes everything from the celebration of local holidays to all of the street names dedicated to Catholic saints. Even children’s education is influenced, as most semi-private and private schools in Spain are Catholic.

Other religions in Spain are practiced by minorities, some native and others of an immigrant origin. Evangelical gypsy communities are an example of a native religious minority, while those of immigrant origin include:

  • Muslims 
  • Northern-African communities
  • Southeast Asian communities
  • Orthodox Eastern Europe communities
  • Evangelist Latin American communities

In big cities like Madrid and Barcelona, holidays celebrated by immigrant communities are starting to gain recognition and participation from native communities. Examples of this include the Chinese New Year and the Muslim Feast of the Lamb.

A Catholic Procession for Easter in Spain

4. Traditional Holidays 

Traditional Spanish culture is shaped around its main holidays. Most of them—such as Christmas, Holy Week (Easter), and Corpus Christi—are shared with other Catholic and Christian countries. Most local holidays have religious origins as well, celebrating a region’s patron saint such as San Isidro in Madrid or La Mercè in Barcelona. Some religion-related holidays have origins in old pagan celebrations. An example of this is San Juan, a traditional celebration of summer’s arrival during which people gather and light bonfires on the beach. 

Popular and folkloric traditions also play a big role in Spanish culture. Some of these traditional holidays have gained international fame, such as the famous bull racing on San Fermín in Pamplona or the Tomatina, a tomato fight celebrated in the village of Buñol. Carnival is another big event that’s celebrated differently from one region to another, but mostly involves wearing costumes (like during Halloween, although without the spooky theme) and excess partying.

In Spanish culture, holidays are mainly celebrated outdoors and they bring the whole community together in a mix of big public money spending and civic self-organization. Spanish people are very fond of their local and national traditions, and many people are involved in comparsas. These are groups that organize the celebrations, play folkloric music, or perform traditional dances.

5. Food 

Spanish culture and food are two concepts that go hand in hand

The communal lifestyle is reflected in gatherings around a table with good food and drinks, whether it’s in a bar, a restaurant, or in somebody’s home. Spanish people often show their love for others by cooking food for them, and this is often portrayed by the archetypical Spanish grandmother who cooks for the whole family and always worries about her grandchildren being too thin.

Foreigners are often surprised when they order a drink in a bar and receive a complimentary dish on the side (called a tapa). A popular element of Spanish cuisine, tapas are commonly mistaken as being a specific type of food. But tapas actually consists of several small dishes that are set in the middle of the table for everyone to share. The main difference between Spanish tapas and similar small dishes in other countries is that Spaniards don’t normally cook this way at home. Tapas are almost exclusively consumed in bars or restaurants.

Paella, the famous Spanish rice dish, is normally cooked in a big pan. In the region of Valencia where the dish was invented, it’s traditionally shared among several people, with everyone eating straight from the pan with their own spoon. Paella is a typical meal for Sunday reunions among family and friends, and it’s traditionally offered on the Thursday menu in restaurants. Paella (and other dishes cooked similarly, such as fideuà) are often prepared for big celebrations using pans that can hold hundreds of servings. This is another area where the Spanish values of community and sharing are represented in Spain’s food culture.

Alcoholic beverages are also a big part of the community-oriented lifestyle in gatherings and celebrations. Although Spain is a big producer and exporter of wine, and although the famous Spanish drink sangría is made with wine, Spanish people mainly consume beer in social contexts. Beer companies in Spain are very important and they sponsor some of the main social events and activities, from traditional local holidays to football teams.


Someone Cooking Large Batches of Paella

6. Art

Spain has contributed greatly to the world of art. The most famous piece of Spanish literature is Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, which is considered the first modern novel. Painters of the Spanish Golden Era such as Velázquez or el Greco, as well as twentieth-century painters like Picasso or Dalí, are some of the most influential artists in Western culture. Some of the most well-known pieces of Spanish art are shown in the world’s most important museums, such as the Louvre in Paris or the MET in New York City. 

The Spanish contribution to architecture is also very relevant. For instance, the Al-Andalus architectural heritage, from the centuries of Arab rule in Spain, is unique in the world. The modernist movement has left some of the most singular buildings in different cities across Spain. The movement was led in the twentieth century by Gaudí, one of the most famous architects in history who was responsible for the Sagrada Família Basilica in Barcelona, among other buildings. 

One of the most distinctive features of Spanish culture is flamenco, a unique genre of music and dance. Flamenco originates from the gypsy communities of southern Spain and their folkloric traditions. The term actually refers to a variety of music and dance styles. 

As Iberians share a common Spanish language and culture with most Latin American countries, there’s a great deal of cultural exchange between them. An example is the frequent collaborations between Spanish and Latin American filmmakers. Music is another area where Latin American culture has had a big influence on Spanish culture. From salsa to the current boom of reggaeton, Spanish people have always consumed a great deal of Latino music.

Two Women Dancing to Sevillana Folk Music for April’s Fair

7. Final Thoughts

We hope that our Spanish culture guide has helped you get closer to this joyful and vibrant Mediterranean country. What facts have surprised you the most?

Learning the Spanish language and culture can be a thrilling experience, as foreign languages are the windows to different realities. And at SpanishPod101.com, you’ll find the best resources to learn Spanish! For example, you can check out our Spanish Vocab Builder lessons to learn new Spanish words every day.

Do you want to know how to order the yummiest Spanish food? Are you interested in experiencing some unique Spanish celebrations? Then sign up today!

We look forward to seeing you around.

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Variety in Spanish: Understanding the Differences

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If you’re reading this, it’s because you already know how important and useful it is to learn the Spanish language. There are about 405-million native speakers, and there are even more people who speak Spanish as a second language for business, education, or love.

Why? 

Well, Spanish is the official language in twenty countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela. 

Because the language is spoken in so many countries, there are quite a few Spanish dialects and varieties out there!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Can Spanish People and Latin Americans Understand Each Other?
  2. How to Spot the Differences in Pronunciation
  3. Differences in Vocabulary
  4. Differences in Grammar
  5. Which Spanish Variety Should You Learn?
  6. Conclusion

1. Can Spanish People and Latin Americans Understand Each Other?

One Women Telling a Secret to Another One in Her Ear

Although the Spanish language is exactly the same among all the countries where it’s the official language, there are some differences between Spanish dialects. Take, for example, Mexican Spanish vs. Castillian Spanish.

1- How can you spot the differences?

Think of the many countries where English is spoken: England, Australia, Ireland, the United States, and New Zealand! You may know by now that the language is the same, but that there are some differences in accent, pronunciation, intonation, speed, and vocabulary.

While differences like these aren’t usually major, there are many varieties in Spanish. This means that if an Argentinian goes to Spain or a Spanish person goes to Latin America, it can be tricky to communicate at the beginning. But after a few days, they’ll be able to adapt and understand each other. 

When it comes to writing, Mexican Spanish and the Spanish in Spain are similar to each other. But the pronunciation, vocabulary, and the meanings of words are different. Mexican Spanish tends to use what we call Spanglish (English + Spanish) because the Mexican culture has a lot of influence from the USA. A great way to see some examples of this and train your ears for this type of language is to watch some Mexican movies

Yellow Pin on Spanish-speaking Region

Let’s learn more about the different varieties of Spanish and compare the most common ones to each other. In this article, we’ll cover: 

  • Mexican Spanish vs. Castilian Spanish
  • Peruvian Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish
  • Puerto Rican Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish
  • Argentinian Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish 
  • Chilean Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish 

Before you continue, you may want to learn more interesting facts about the Spanish language.

2- What are the main differences between all the varieties of Spanish?

Don’t get confused by the amount of information you may find on the internet. The main differences between the Spanish dialects and varieties are the pronunciation and the vocabulary. This means that the difference exists mainly in spoken language because Spanish grammar, especially in writing, is identical across Spanish-speaking countries. 

A- Can all Spanish-speakers understand each other? 

This is the most common question I get asked when I meet travelers, and the answer is: Yes! No matter where a Spanish-speaker is from, where they are, or who they’re talking to, they can understand each other by simply listening carefully, speaking slowly, and putting words into context when using unfamiliar vocabulary. 

In addition, Netflix, music, and the internet have brought together the differences between pronunciations, vocabulary, and slang. Check out our list of the best movies on Netflix to learn Spanish

B- What is the correct term to differentiate between the different types of Spanish? 

The Spanish language originated in Spain, and the Spanish spoken in Spain is called Castilian: castellano. It refers to the province of Castile located in Central Spain. In English, you can just refer to this variety of Spanish as European Spanish or Peninsular Spanish, instead of Castilian Spanish. 

For those who speak Spanish in Latin America, it’s called Latin American Spanish or español latino

C- What are the different types of Spanish?

Latin American Spanish may vary among the countries where it’s spoken. The main varieties in Spanish are: Caribbean, South American Pacific, Central American, Highland (which is more standard), and Argentinian-Uruguayan-Paraguayan Spanish. 

In Spain, there are two principal varieties of Spanish, which are Andalusian and Castilian.

Woman Holding Red and Green Apple

2. How to Spot the Differences in Pronunciation


The main difference between all the varieties of Spanish is the pronunciation. One of the most notable examples of this is in Mexican Spanish vs. Castilian Spanish: Seseo vs. Ceceo.  

  • Ceceo is when Spanish-speakers from Spain pronounce -c and -z as -th-. 

For example:

Caza (“Hunt”)

In this example, the word would be pronounced as ca-th-a. On the other hand, a Latin American speaker would pronounce this word with seseo: ca-s-a.

  • Seseo is when Latin American-speakers pronounce the -c and -z as -s. So casa and caza will sound exactly the same.  

Latin American Spanish people don’t use the ceceo. Take, for instance, gracias (“thank you”).

  • European Spanish: Grathias
  • Latin American Spanish: Grasias

Now, there’s another distinction you should know about: Yeismo

1- What is Yeismo?

Yeismo is the accent and the way that Argentinian, Uruguayan, and Paraguayan people speak Spanish. They pronounce the -ll and -y as -ch. 

For example:

Argentinian Spanish pronunciation. 

  • Lluvia (“Rain”) is pronounced as chuvia.
  • Ayer (“Yesterday”) is pronounced as acher.

Another notable difference between Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish is the pronunciation of -j.

In Spain, people put more emphasis on -j than Latin Americans do. This is partially because they tend to use a swearing word with this sound more often: Joder (“F***k”).

We’ve only covered a few of the differences between the varieties of Spanish. There are many more accents, pronunciations, and vocabulary differences, but the farther along you get in your Spanish studies, the better you’ll be able to distinguish between them. 

3. Differences in Vocabulary

Each variety of Spanish has slight variations in vocabulary and word meanings.

For example, the Mexican word for “car” is carro, the Spanish word is coche, and the Argentinian word is  auto. 

Now, here’s a difference of word meaning in Chilean Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish:

Chileans say chucha when a place is far away, while Mexicans may use chingada. And Colombians will use chucha to say that something smells very bad.

Another difference between Mexican Spanish vs. Spanish in Spain is the way they say “money.”

Spanish and Mexicans call money dinero, whereas some people in Latin America call it plata:

  • No tengo dinero.
  • No tengo plata.
  • “I have no money.”

“Mobile phone” for the Spanish is móvil, whereas the Colombians call it celular.

Coger in Latin America is a vulgar word for the act of intercourse, whereas for people in Spain, it’s an innocent and common word that means “to take” or “to catch.” 

In terms of Peruvian Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish, the difference is in the way they speak. Some people consider Peruvian Spanish very slow, and Peruvians often don’t pronounce words in their entirety. 

An example of Peruvian Spanish:

  • “You are crazy!”
  • ¡Estás loco!
  • ¡’tas loco!
  • “Are you okay?”
  • ¿Estás bien?
  • ¿’ta bien?

This way of speaking in Spanish is very common in many regions of Spain (like the Autonomous Community of Andalucía) as well as in many other regions of Latin America. This is especially true for the cities around the coast. 

While you’re learning Spanish, don’t worry too much about these differences. It may be very difficult to understand this type of language, but your ears will get used to it as you advance in your learning.

4. Differences in Grammar

The main difference in grammar is the plural form of “you” in Spanish: Ustedes vs. vs. Vos. 

Another difference is that Latin American-speakers use a lot of words that come from United States English. These words are usually adapted for Spanish, pronounced and written with Spanish phonetics. This isn’t very common in peninsular Spanish, although Spanish-speakers there will understand you if you use them. Spanish is evolving all the time, and English- and Spanish-speakers are living side-by-side all over North America.

Many Words Typed on White Papers

Let’s see some differences between Mexican Spanish and European Spanish words:


EnglishAdapted from EnglishEuropean Spanish
“Apply”AplicarInscribirse or Postularse
  • “I applied to four Spanish universities.”
  • Apliqué en cuatro universidades españolas. (Latin American Spanish)
  • Me he inscrito en cuatro universidades españolas. (European Spanish)

EnglishAdapted from EnglishEuropean Spanish
“Check”Chequear or ChecarComprobar or Revisar
  • “Juan, can you check my homework, please?”
  • Juan, puedes chequear mis tareas, ¿por favor? (Latin American Spanish)
  • Juan, puedes revisar mis deberes, ¿por favor? (European Spanish)

EnglishAdapted from EnglishEuropean Spanish
“Balance”BalancearEquilibrar
  • “Meditation balances your mind.”
  • La meditación balancea tu mente. (Latin American Spanish)
  • La meditación equilibra tu mente. (European Spanish)

Like English, Spanish has evolved and adapted to every culture, country, and region, both in speech and writing.

Talking About the Past in Latin American Spanish vs. Iberian Spanish

Another difference in grammar is the use of the past tense. In Iberian Spanish, you’ll see that the past perfect is used most often: “to have” + the verb in the past participle. Latin American Spanish will use the simple past more often.

  • European/Castilian Spanish, past perfect: he comprado
  • Latin American Spanish, past simple: compré

Example:

  • “This morning, I went to do my grocery shopping.”
  • Esta mañana he ido hacer la compra. (European/Castilian Spanish)
  • Esta mañana fui a hacer la compra. (Latin American Spanish)

5. Which Spanish Variety Should You Learn?

I get asked this question a lot, and the answer always depends on what you’re learning Spanish for. If you’re learning Spanish because you want to travel the world, especially South America, you should learn the type of Spanish spoken in the places you want to visit most.

Woman Uncertain of Something

If you’re learning Spanish for business, education, or the media, you may learn neutral Spanish for Spain. But if you’re going to work in a certain country, you should familiarize yourself with their Spanish so you can better enjoy your time there.

Some people find Latin American Spanish easier than the Spanish from Spain, whereas others may prefer Spain’s variety because the language originated there. 

What I always suggest is to learn the Spanish variety of your choice in a place where that variety is spoken. This will help you get used to pronunciation and other nuances of that variety faster!

6. Conclusion

For more information about the Spanish language, visit our website SpanishPod101.com. We hope to make every aspect of your learning journey both fun and informative, and we believe that with enough hard work and determination, you can master any variety of Spanish! 

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you learned anything new today about Spanish dialects and varieties. Which one do you want to learn, and why? We look forward to hearing from you! 

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