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Helpful Spanish Phrases

By Heather Brown, Intern Extraordinaire

Whether your summer plans involve traveling to a distant country (I’d love to visit Italy) or bettering yourself on the beach near home (did you see Mary Louise-Parker practicing Spanish on her iPod on Weeds?) summer is a great time to tackle a new language. OUP’s new Take Off In… language learning kits are a perfect way to expand your knowledge of everything from Spanish to Japanese. Everyone can benefit from a little extra language know-how, so we thought we would offer weekly language posts in order to teach you a few key phrases in each of the languages featured in the Take Off In… series. Let’s begin with Spanish, an important language to be familiar with both overseas and at home.

While Spanish, a romance language like Italian and French, may have originated in northern Spain, it is spoken all over the world today in different dialects and accents (the form of the language spoken in our hemisphere has its own guide, Take Off In…Latin American Spanish, but that’s for another week). The most popular form of the language is called castellano or espanol, and is Spain’s predominant language.

A trip to this south-western European peninsula immediately conjures images of flamenco dancers, bullfights, and fiestas on sunny beaches. But don’t spend all your time partying! Spain is full of fascinating landmarks bearing the marks of its diverse history. For example, many places of worship have been used by Christians and Muslims, such as the Mezquita de Córdoba, which has been a Christian Visigoth church, a Muslim mosque, and a Roman Catholic cathedral. Another great attraction is the Sagrada Familia, a gigantic cathedral in Barcelona whose construction began in 1882 and won’t be finished until 2026 (its original estimated time of completion was not for several hundred years).

If you’re planning on getting on an airplane within the next few days, you can still catch the famed encierro, or the running of the bulls, which is a part of the Sanfermines festival in Pamplona that runs from July 6th to July 14th. For those who think they can take the challenge, be prepared to wake up early and have a strong cup of coffee—the bulls run at 8:00 AM every morning!

Here are a few key phrases from Take Off In…Spanish that you might find helpful when traveling in Spain:

Hello, good morning, Mr. Perez.
¡Hola! Buenos días, señor Perez.


Could you please tell me where the cathedral is?
¿Dónde está la catedral, por favor?


Could you please tell me if there is a hotel in the area?
Por favor, ¿hay un hotel por aquí?


I’d like a coffee with milk, please.
Quiero un café con leche, por favor.


How much is it?
¿Cuánto vale?


Here are some more phrases that could come in handy:

How are you?
¿Cómo está usted?

Fine, thank you.
Bien, gracias.

Where is my luggage?
¿Dónde está mi equipage?

And a few for booklovers:

Where’s the nearest bookshop?
¿Dónde está la librería más cercana?


I read a lot.
Me leo mucho.

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