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10 basics to get your Spanish conversations started

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Studying a new language can be daunting – there´s so much to learn! But it can also be really fun! So if you´re learning Spanish to enhance your conversational skills whilst living or travelling abroad (which I highly recommend), here´s 10 of the basics to get you started (and for you to study in between classes!) …

Greetings and Farewells

These are of course the foundations to making conversation in Spanish. You´ll need to start with a “buenas días”, “buenas tardes” or “buenas noches”, depending on the time of day. “Buenas días” means “good day” and is used in the morning, before midday. “Buenas tardes” means “good afternoon” and is used in the afternoon, after midday. “Buenas noches”, means “good evening/night” and is used in the evening, after 6pm. Or for something more casual (once you know a person) you can use “Hola” to say “hello”. Remember, in Spanish, “h” at the beginning of a word is silent.

When you´re saying “goodbye” to your new found friend (having of course, perfectly used all the Spanish you´ve learnt at Spanish Panama Language School), you can say “adiós”, “chao” or “hasta luego”. Don´t forget to forget about the “h” at the beginning of “hasta” (it´s silent).

Introductions

A useful first sentence in any conversation is: “me llamo Penny” or “mi nombre es Penny” (“my name is Penny”). Now remember, in Spanish a “ll” is pronounced like a “y” in English, so phonetically, llamo is “ya-mo”.

Next, you might like to ask your new friend´s name – “¿Cual es tu nombre?” or “¿Como te llama?” (don´t forget how to pronounce the “ll”!!).

Finally, you can say “mucho gusto” (“nice to meet you”).

Asking “how are you?”

There are a couple of ways to ask how your new friend is going: “¿Que tal?” or “¿Como estas?” are common. Your friend will probably reply “bien gracias, ¿y tu?” (“good thanks, and you?”) and you can reply “bien gracias”. The thing to remember here is that “y” in Spanish is pronounced like “ee” in English.

Good manners

I´m sure your mom always told you to use your manners, right? Well in Spanish you´ll need to use “por favor” when saying “please” and “gracias” when saying “thank you”.

“De nada” means “you´re welcome” (after someone thanks you for something).

Excuse me!

Oops! You´ve accidentally bumped into someone! Or maybe you just need to get past them. It´s best to use “con permiso” (“excuse me”) when trying to get past someone. “Lo siento” (“I´m sorry”), “perdón” (“pardon me”) are good terms to use when saying “sorry”.

How much?

Heading out to buy some souvenirs? You´ll need to put your bargaining (or Panama!) hat on and learn to ask “how much is it?” … “¿Cuanto cuesta?” is the best way to ask. Otherwise you can use “¿Cuánto es?” for something a little less formal.

Positives and Negatives

You´ll of course need to know how to say “yes” and “no” when you´re negotiationg prices for those souvenirs – “si” and “no”. Here, remember the “i” and “o” is are short sounds, not long ones.

Directions

After all that shopping, you might grab a drink, sit down … and then you´ll need to know: “where is the bathroom?” ... “¿Dónde es el baño?” (baño is Spanish for bathroom). Or “where is the ATM?” (you spent a bit too much on mom!) … “Donde es el cajero automatico?” (cajero auotomatico is Spanish for ATM).

Enjoy your meal!

After all that shopping and walking around, surely it´s time to eat! Eating is a big part of Latin American culture, so it´s a good idea to learn “buen provecho” for meal times. This is just like saying “enjoy your meal”, or as the french say “bon appetit”.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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Spanish Panama LS New member
Member since 30 April 2014
Panama City, Panama
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See also

Expats moving to Panama with children under the age of six can register them in a childcare centre or pre-primary school.
Your pet will need a health card and a rabies vaccination certificate in order to travel with you to Panama. Exotic pets require further approvals.
Panama customs do not impose many restrictions on foreigners. However, firearms must be declared on arrival. These will be retained until your departure.
The investor visa grants permanent residence in Panama for two years. The agricultural investment visa grants six years temporary residence.

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