San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Common Spanish Phrases

It is true that there are a great many foreigners living in San Miguel de Allende, and that many of the Mexicans in San Miguel can speak English. It is also true that many permanent residents have managed to live here for years without gaining more than a rudimentary grasp of the Spanish language.

However, by not trying to speak the language, you are effectively denying yourself access to 99% of what makes life in Mexico interesting -- the Mexicans.

Of course, this is a very incomplete list of Spanish phrases, if you are planning on staying in Mexico for any length of time, we'd recommend enrolling in a class to learn Spanish in Mexico.

Notes on Spanish pronunciation: In Spanish, all vowels are pronounced the same, no matter where they fall in the word (in sharp contrast to English!). This means that, in theory, once you have learned how to pronounce the vowels, you can say nearly any word In Spanish with a fair degree of intelligibility. This phonetic guide should work for most native English speakers, unless you're from East Texas.

Sorry, y'all just talk funny.

  • In Spanish, A is like the 'ah' in 'haha', or 'awe'.
  • In Spanish, E is like the long a, like the 'a' in 'hay'.
  • In Spanish, I is like the long e, like the 'ee' in 'keep'.
  • In Spanish, O is more or less a short 'o', the 'o' in 'or'.
  • In Spanish, U is like the 'oo' in 'zoo'.

Except: We tricked you. In Spanish, some of the consonants are pronounced differently as well.

  • In Spanish, H is silent. Hotel is 'O-tell'.
  • In Spanish, J is the 'H' sound. Jalapeño, is 'haw-la-pain-yo'.
  • In Spanish, Ñ is a sound like 'nyuh' like in the above example.
  • In Spanish, RR is a rolling 'r'. This usually takes practice. Try purring like a cat.
  • In Spanish, B is frequently pronounced like the letter 'V'
  • In Spanish, V is frequently pronounced like the letter 'B'
  • In Spanish, G is pronounced with an 'H' sound unless in front of a 'U' like guacamole, then it is 'GW'.

Common Spanish Phrases

"Yes." --> "Si."
"No." --> "No."
"Hello." --> "Hola."
"Goodbye." --> "Adios."
"My name is..." --> "Me llamo..."
"How are you?" --> "¿Como estas?"
"How Much (does it cost)?" --> "¿Cuanto cuesta?"
"Where is...?" --> "¿Donde está?"
"I don't understand." --> "No entiendo"
"Do you speak English?" --> "¿Hablas inglés?"

Being Polite
(the short list)

"Bless you." --> "Salud."
"By your leave." --> "Con permiso."
"Excuse me." --> "Perdon."
"Good morning." --> "Buenos dias"
"Good afternoon." --> "Buenos tardes."
"Good night." --> "Buenas noches."
"I'm Sorry." --> "Lo siento."
"Nice to meet you." --> "Mucho gusto."
"Pardon me." --> "Disculpame."
"Please." --> "Por favor."
"Thank you." --> "Gracias."
"No thank you." --> "No gracias."
"Thank you very much." --> "Muchas gracias."


"Help!" --> "Socorro!"
"I am lost." --> "Ando perdido."
"Be careful!" --> "Cuidado!"
"May I use the bathroom?" --> "¿Puedo usar el baño?"
"Where is the bathroom?" --> "¿Dónde está el baño?"
"Please call a doctor." --> "Por favor, llame al médico."
"Please call the police." --> "Por favor, llame al policía."
"Please help me." --> "Ayúdeme, por favor."

 Eating Out

"Where is a good restaurant?" --> "¿Dónde hay un buen restaurante?"
"Check, please." --> "La cuenta, por favor."
"I am hungry." --> "Tengo hambre."
"I am thirsty." --> "Tengo sed."
"I would like to see the menu." --> "Quiero ver la carta."

For additional spanish phrases, please visit

Recommended Spanish Language Learning Books

Of course this is a very incomplete list of phrases. Here are a few books to help you get a better grip on Spanish...

  • Berlitz Latin American Spanish Phrase Book & Dictionary: My parents used this when they visited Mexico for the first time and were delighted by its ease-of-use, page edges color coded by topic categories for quick look up, and the phonetic spelling pronunciation printed below the Spanish phrase. By far the best for novice speakers of Spanish.

  • Random House Latin-American Spanish Dictionary: Everything you'd desire in a paperback dictionary. Don't make the mistake of not getting a Latin American Spanish dictionary -- Mexico has been evolving their version Spanish for 500 years. This dictionary does a good job of identifying a lot of those differences. My personal copy is so dog-earred it won't even shut properly!

  • 501 Spanish Verbs: Fully Conjugated in All the Tenses: The motherlode for students of Spanish. Though a little weighty, ounce-per-ounce there's no refuting that this has most clout. Impress native speakers with your command of tenses that even they aren't sure how to use!

You can visit Spanish language learning books page to see our complete list of book and CD recommendations for learning Spanish.

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