Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Alisha: Hi, Alisha here.
Fernando: Bienvenidos, soy Fernando. Welcome, I’m Fernando.
Alisha: Formal Greetings in Mexican Spanish
Fernando: In this lesson you will learn how to greet somebody formally in Spanish. In other words, what to say when you meet someone of superior rank.
Alisha: It can be your teacher, your boss or simply someone in the street, who you don’t know.
Fernando: The conversation takes place at a school.
Alisha: And it is between a student, Ashley, and her teacher, Mr. Gómez.
Fernando: The speakers have different professional ranks, so they will speak accordingly, using formal Spanish.
Alisha: Let’s listen to the conversation.

Lesson conversation

A: Buenos días señor Gómez
B: Buenos días, Ashley
A: ¿Cómo está usted?
B: Muy bien, gracias ¿y usted?
A: Muy bien, gracias.
Alisha: Let’s hear the conversation one time slowly.
A: Buenos días señor Gómez
B: Buenos días, Ashley
A: ¿Cómo está usted?
B: Muy bien, gracias ¿y usted?
A: Muy bien, gracias.
Alisha: Now let’s hear it with the English translation.
A: Buenos días señor Gómez
Alisha: Good morning Mr. Gómez
B: Buenos días, Ashley
Alisha: Good morning, Ashley
A: ¿Cómo está usted?
Alisha: How are you?
B: Muy bien, gracias ¿y usted?
Alisha: I’m fine thank you, and you?
A: Muy bien, gracias.
Alisha: I’m fine, thank you.
Alisha: So Fernando, they’re speaking formally in this conversation, right? That means there are formal and informal ways to speak?
Fernando: Yes, that’s exactly right. Which one you use depends on the person’s rank.
Alisha: What do you mean by “rank?”
Fernando: Well, it’s a bit complicated, but in Spanish-speaking countries, you have to be very aware of who is in a superior position to you, be it in age or professional standing, like, for example a teacher. Also, when talking to someone new, you are expected to use the formal word for “you”, ‘usted’.
Alisha: What about people who are younger than you?
Fernando: Normally, with people younger than you or with kids, you speak using informal speech. You use the informal word for “you”, ‘tú’.
Alisha: I see. What if you mess up and refer to someone using the wrong term?
Fernando: Well, it happens. Like you may refer someone using the casual form ‘tú’, and then realize he or she wasn’t comfortable. So you have to go back to “usted” and it’s not a nice feeling.
Alisha: Hmm, it does sound a bit complicated. So do you have to ask permission before you can move from ‘usted’ to ‘tú’?
Fernando: That’s right. But I think when in doubt, you should use ‘Usted’. If the other person thinks it’s okay to use ‘tú’, they will let you know.
Alisha: That’s good to know!
Alisha: Okay, let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
The first word we shall see is:
Fernando: buenos días [natural native speed]
Alisha: good morning
Fernando: buenos días [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Fernando: buenos días [natural native speed]
Fernando: señor, señora [natural native speed]
Alisha: Sir, Ma'am, Mr., Mrs., gentleman, lady
Fernando: señor, -a [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Fernando: señor, -a [natural native speed]
Fernando: cómo [natural native speed]
Alisha: how
Fernando: cómo [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Fernando: cómo [natural native speed]
Fernando: estar [natural native speed]
Alisha: to be (temporary conditions)
Fernando: estar [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Fernando: estar [natural native speed]
Fernando: usted [natural native speed]
Alisha: you (formal)
Fernando: usted [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Fernando: usted [natural native speed]
Fernando: muy bien [natural native speed]
Alisha: very well
Fernando: muy bien [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Fernando: muy bien [natural native speed]
Fernando: gracias [natural native speed]
Alisha: thanks, thank you
Fernando: gracias [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Fernando: gracias [natural native speed]
Fernando: y [natural native speed]
Alisha: and
Fernando: y [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Fernando: y [natural native speed]
Alisha: Let's have a closer look at the usage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson.
Fernando: The first phrase we’ll look at is....
Fernando: Buenos días.
Alisha: Which means “good morning”. To go along with that, we also have -
Fernando: Buenas tardes.
Alisha: “Good afternoon”, or “hello”, and…
Fernando: Buenas noches.
Alisha: “Good night.” One more time? Repeat after Fernando...
Fernando: “Good morning.” ‘Buenos días’ (pause). “Good afternoon”. Buenas tardes. (pause) “Good night.” Buenas noches. (pause).
Alisha: The phrase for “good night” can also mean “good evening”, right?
Fernando: Sure! Buenas noches can be used to greet someone when they go into a restaurant or party at night. But it is also a way to say Goodbye when people go back home, or before they go off to sleep.
Alisha: So when you are at home ready to go to bed you say buenas noches?
Fernando: That’s right. Please note that these are formal greetings. You wouldn’t say Buenos días or Buenas tardes to your friends at school.
Alisha: What’s our next word?
Fernando: Muy bien. Muy bien means “very well”. Muy means “very”, and bien means “well”.
Alisha: This was the answer to “how are you” in the dialogue, right?
Fernando: Yes. ¿Cómo está usted? Muy bien. “How are you? Very well.”
Alisha: We translated it simply as “I’m fine” in the dialogue.
Fernando: And we’ll look at that a bit more in the next section.
Alisha: Great, and what’s the last word we have?
Fernando: Gracias.
Alisha: Many listeners may already be familiar with this – it means “thank you”.
Fernando: These two phrases go together very well – muy bien, gracias. “Very well, thanks.”
Alisha: Ah, I see! So in the dialogue these two are like a set.
Fernando: That’s right!
Alisha: Ok, let’s move onto the grammar.

Lesson focus

Alisha: The focus of this lesson is greeting someone in formal Spanish.
Fernando: The main phrase we are learning is ¿cómo está usted?
Alisha: “How are you?” Now keep in mind that this is formal Spanish.
Fernando: Repeat after me - ¿cómo está usted? (pause)
Alisha: Fernando, let’s break it down.
Fernando: Okay.Cómo
Alisha: This means “how”
Fernando: está
Fernando: This is the verb… ESTAR. It’s conjugated in the third person form, está
Alisha: And lastly?
Fernando: Usted.
Alisha: The formal word for “you”. All together again?
Fernando: ¿Cómo está usted? (pause)
Alisha: We’ll learn how to ask the same question using informal Spanish in the next lesson, so stay tuned for that!
Fernando: But for now, let’s look at the answer for this.
Alisha: We actually saw it earlier in the vocab section.
Fernando: That’s right, it was Muy bien, gracias.
Alisha: Literally, “very well, thanks.” In the dialogue, we translated it as “I’m fine, thanks.” So, all together now. Listeners, please repeat. “How are you?”
Fernando: ¿Cómo está usted? (pause)
Alisha: I’m fine, thanks.
Fernando: Muy bien, gracias. (pause)
Alisha: Great! There’s one other little thing I want to mention.
Fernando: What’s that?
Alisha: After Mr. Gomez says “I’m fine, thank you,” he says “and you”?
Fernando: Oh, right. ¿Y usted?
Alisha: It literally means “and you”?
Fernando: Yes. ¿Y usted?
Alisha: Okay, so now it’s time for the listeners to come up with the phrases on their own. Are you ready listeners? Fernando will ask how you are. Please respond!
Fernando: Okay, here I go. ¿Cómo está usted? (pause)
Alisha: And the answer is?
Fernando: Muy bien, gracias.
Alisha: Great, Now let’s try it the other way around. Listeners, ask Fernando [pause]
Fernando: Muy bien, gracias.
Alisha: Great! How did you do?


Alisha: Fernando, I think that’s going to wrap up this lesson! Thanks for joining us, everyone!
Fernando: Nos vemos, hasta luego.
Alisha: See you next time!