We take common Spanish words for granted.
They’re always there for us. Why pay them any attention?
Why give them the tender, loving affection they so deserve?
Yes, they may be simple, but never underestimate the value of common words.
Sure, strange and unusual words can be exciting like a ride in a fast, exotic car. But nothing compares to vocabulary that you’ll use every day—the comfortable sedan that takes you to and from your favorite destinations and never complains. Common words deserve their due.
And there are a lot of great everyday Spanish vocabulary words that’ll nudge you closer to fluency. Greetings are essential. The days of the week are definitely must-know Spanish words. Food words will help you navigate your way around even the most advanced Spanish-language restaurant menus. Travel phrases will come in handy when you’re gallivanting about in Spanish-speaking countries.
But when it comes to Spanish vocabulary that you can use every day, there’s nothing quite like daily routine vocabulary.
Why Learn Daily Routine Spanish Vocabulary?
Daily routine vocabulary is very useful for any Spanish learner. You’re likely to use many of these terms every day. This will make the words easier to remember and improve your functional ability to communicate in Spanish.
Additionally, knowing daily routine vocabulary will help you think in Spanish. Try narrating what you’re doing throughout the day in Spanish. You can do this aloud or in your head. If you can discuss or even think about your daily activities in Spanish, it’ll help you transition to being able to think in Spanish in general which is an important step towards fluency.
What’s more, daily routine Spanish vocabulary are some of the most common words, so they’re essential to clear communication. Without these words and phrases, you won’t be able to communicate some very basic information, and this could complicate your Spanish-language conversations.
A Quick Note on Everyday Reflexive Verbs
A lot of list items here are reflexive. This can be a little confusing, so let’s clear a few things up.
When verbs end in se, they’re reflexive.
Think of reflexive like “reflections”—this is the verb type we use when the agent of the action is acting on his or her own self. For example, if you’re doing something to yourself, like brushing your own hair, then you’re most likely going to be using the reflexive to describe that in Spanish.
However, when an agent is acting on someone else, we might still use pronouns like me, te and le to indicate who is being acted upon. This is no longer considered reflexive, so we usually list the verbs without se at the end. However, the constructions are still very similar.
Take, for instance, despertar and despertarse (to wake up), which we’ll discuss more later in this list. If we’re going to use the reflexive version of this verb, then the acting agent must be the same as who the agent is acting upon, so you’ll start with the reflexive infinitive verb despertarse and turn that into me despierto (I wake up), te despiertas (you wake up) and se despierta (he/she wakes up).
However, as noted previously, you might still pair similar pronouns with verbs to indicate that someone is acting on someone else. This looks similar, but it isn’t actually reflexive. For instance, you might have ella le despierta a Juan (she wakes up Juan), mi madre me despierta (my mother wakes me up) or te despierto (I wake you up). Again, these aren’t reflexive, but rather they’re just verbs being used with pronouns.
Yes, reflexive verbs can be a little confusing, but don’t worry—you’ll get this down in no time! Watch for reflexive verbs throughout this list for some more practice.
32 Useful Spanish Vocabulary Words to Describe Your Daily Routine
Despertar (no se at the end) means “to awaken.” This is the word you use when discussing an outside agent who/that wakes a person, like an alarm clock or your mother.
To discuss someone being woken up by something or by someone else, you can use pronouns like me, te and le to indicate who’s being awoken. In this case, the verb wouldn’t be considered reflexive. For instance, you might say mi madre me despierta (my mother wakes me up).
Despertarse, on the other hand, is used to communicate when someone has woken up without provocation, or when they’ve woken themselves up. For instance, me despierto en la mañana (I wake up in the morning), mi madre se despierta a las ocho (my mother wakes up at eight).
In the context of daily activities, levantarse means “to get up.”
While this is similar to despertarse, they don’t have quite the same meaning. Levantarse can be used to refer to getting out of bed, getting out of a chair, etc. It helps to remember that levantar means “to raise,” so levantarse literally means “to raise oneself.”
Despertarse, however, only means “to wake up,” so it’s only used when someone has been sleeping. Even if you’ve woken up, you might still be laying in bed. So, you could say “me desperté a las ocho y me levanté a las ocho y media.” (I woke up at eight and I got out of bed at eight thirty.)
3. Hacer la cama
Hacer la cama means “to make the bed.” Unfortunately, it’s more fun to say than to do.
While vestir means “to wear,” the reflexive vestirse means “to get dressed.”
5. Ponerse la ropa
Ponerse la ropa means “to put on clothes.” While the meaning is very similar to vestirse, there are some slight differences.
Generally, vestirse is only used when you’re putting on clothes but weren’t already dressed. Ponerse, on the other hand, can also be used when putting on additional garments like a jacket.
Afeitarse means “to shave oneself.” For instance, ¿te afeitas? (do you shave?).
If you, for whatever reason, are shaving someone else (no judgement, a hobby is a hobby), you’d use afeitar in combination with the appropriate pronoun. While it wouldn’t technically be reflexive because you’re acting on someone else, you’d still use pronouns like te, me and le to indicate who’s being shaved. For instance, le afeito al perro (I shave the dog).
Both maquillarse and pintarse can be used to mean “to put makeup on oneself.”
When it isn’t reflexive, maquillar means “to make up,” so you can use this if you’re putting makeup on someone else. Again, you’d still use the pronouns me, te and le to clarify who’s being made up.
On the other hand, when pintar isn’t reflexive, it usually means “to paint,” so pintarse is sort of like “to paint oneself.”
8. Ir a…(trabajo, colegio, etc.)
Ir a means “to go to.” It’s a great way to discuss where you’re heading for the day. For instance, you might pair it with el trabajo (work), el colegio (school) or la tienda (store).
Remember, though, that when a is followed by el, we combine it to al, so you would actually use ir al trabajo or ir al colegio.
Ducharse means “to take a shower.” For instance, you might say ella se ducha cada mañana (she showers every morning).
When it isn’t reflexive, duchar can mean “to shower” (as in someone or something else) or “to drench.” However, remember: We’d still use me, te and le to indicate who’s being showered. For instance, you might say mi novio me ducha con regalos (my boyfriend showers me with gifts).
Bañarse means “to take a bath.” In Latin America, however, it’s also often used to mean “to take a shower” or “to swim.”
Bañar, on the other hand, means “to bathe” when you’re referring to someone bathing someone other than themselves. But don’t forget to still use me, te and le to indicate who’s being bathed!
Lavarse means “to clean/wash oneself.” You can also pair it with other words to specifically describe what you’re cleaning. For instance, lavarse el pelo is an everyday phrase that means “to wash one’s hair.”
When it’s not reflexive, lavar alone simply means “to wash” or “to launder.” So, you can say “lavo la ropa” (I wash/launder clothes) or “mi esposo lava los platos” (my husband washes the dishes).
12. Lavarse/cepillarse los dientes
Lavarse los dientes literally means “to wash one’s teeth.” However, it’s frequently used to refer to brushing teeth.
Cepillarse los dientes, on the other hand, literally means “to brush one’s teeth.”
13. Cepillarse el pelo/cabello
If you haven’t already guessed, cepillar means “to brush.” Therefore, cepillarse el pelo and cepillarse el cabello both mean “to brush one’s hair.”
Peinar means to comb, and with this verb, it’s usually understood that you’re referring to your hair. So, think of peinarse as “to comb one’s hair.”
Comer means “to eat.” However, in Spain and Mexico, comer can also mean “to have for lunch,” while in parts of Latin America, it can mean “to have for dinner.”
16. Hacer la comida
Hacer la comida means “to prepare the food.” While you might be familiar with cocinar (to cook), hacer la comida better captures the entire meal preparation process rather than just the cooking aspect.
Desayunar means “to have breakfast” or “to have for breakfast.”
Similarly, the noun desayuno means “breakfast.”
Almorzar means “to have lunch.” It can also mean “to have for lunch.”
Similarly, in Spain, it can mean “to have a mid-morning snack” or “to have as a mid-morning snack.” The noun almuerzo means “lunch.”
Cenar means “to have dinner or “to have for dinner.”
Cena, on the other hand, is the noun for “dinner.”
Descanso often means “rest.” However, it’s also used to mean “coffee break,” though this is inconsistent and requires some contextual interpretation. If you want to be clearer, you can also refer to it as un descanso para café (a break for coffee).
Merendar means “to have an afternoon snack” or “to have afternoon tea.” Similarly, it can mean “to have for an afternoon snack” or “to have for afternoon tea.”
In Latin America, it can be “to have supper,” “to have dinner” or “to have an evening snack.”
Picar can have a wide variety of meanings including “to sting” or “to chop.” However, perhaps most importantly, picar can mean “to snack on.” This is important vocabulary for any chip fan… and who isn’t a chip fan?
23. Llegar a casa
Llegar a casa means “to arrive home.”
24. Quitarse la ropa
Quitarse la ropa means “to take off one’s clothes.”
It helps to remember that quitar alone means “to remove.”
Desvestirse and desnudarse both mean “to undress oneself,” but desnudarse has the slightly more specific meaning of “to get naked.”
Acostarse means “to lie down” or “to go to bed” (i.e. the most important thing you do all day).
If you put someone else to bed (like a child), you can use acostar, but don’t forget to use me, te and le to indicate whom. For instance, le acuesto al niño (I put the child to bed).
Dormirse usually means “to fall asleep,” but it can also mean “to oversleep”—context is key.
When it isn’t part of the reflexive dormirse, dormir means “to sleep.” It can also be used to mean “to stay overnight.”
Trabajar means “to work.” Similarly, un trabajo is “a job” an ir al trabajo is the phrase for “to go to work.”
Estudiar means “to study.”
30. Ver la televisión/tele
Ver la televisión or ver la tele means “to watch television.” Tele is simply an informal version of televisión—it’s like saying “TV” rather than “television.”
31. Escuchar música
Escuchar música means “to listen to music.”
Mandar literally means “to order” or “to send,” but nowadays, it also means “to text.”
As you can see, everyday vocabulary doesn’t have to be boring.
With these great words and phrases you can use to describe your daily routine, every day is a great day for learning Spanish.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.