“Hello, nice to meet you. My name is…”
“Hey, how’s it going? I’m…”
“What’s up, man? Call me…”
Let’s face it: first impressions matter.
As the above examples show, an introduction can determine the “flavor” of a new relationship. And whether the relationship is a social, business or educational one, it’s pretty important that the flavor suit the situation.
An introduction tells people who you are. It often also conveys your basic personal information, such as your profession and your relationship to the people or person you’re meeting.
This is just as true in the Spanish-speaking world as it is in your hometown.
And while saying “hello, my name is…” may seem like the simplest thing in the world, it’s not. At least, not for English speakers learning Spanish!
For example, when meeting a group of Spanish speakers, you might think a wave and a quick hola! (hello!) will cover the whole group. But that’s not the case. In order to be polite, you’ll need to greet and introduce yourself to everyone separately. And that’s just one example of how Spanish and English introductions differ.
Get off to a good start with your new Spanish friends, associates and acquaintances by hitting all the introduction marks. Read on to learn all the essential steps to a perfect Spanish introduction!
How to Introduce Yourself in Spanish: The Insider’s Guide
Cheek-kissing: A Basic Primer
When meeting someone in the Spanish-speaking world, the very first obstacle you’ll encounter is whether or not to greet with a beso (kiss). Ah, the feared cheek kiss—is it necessary? How can you pull it off without accidentally offending anyone, or looking like a confused foreigner?
Cut yourself some slack, because the norms for kissing vary around the world. But in almost any Spanish-language social interaction, some form of kissing will be involved. And, just to be clear, there’s no flirting involved when this is part of the greeting!
Be aware that it’s not actually a “real” kiss, merely a touching of cheeks. Sometimes, cheeks hardly graze each other!
There are regional differences to this practice. In Spain it’s two kisses and in many parts of Latin America it’s one, so observe those around you to see exactly what to do where you are. The rules also vary by gender; in some regions, men will only kiss women, but in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world, men will also cheek-kiss one another.
To get a better read on how to kiss who and when, you’ll need some exposure to authentic Spanish situations, such as the ones you’ll study with FluentU.
If you’re uncomfortable, though, never fear: most Spanish-speakers will completely understand if you, as a foreigner, aren’t accustomed to this practice. If you don’t want to do the kiss, a firm handshake, a smile and a few standard phrases will be enough. Sometimes, a hug enhances the meeting.
And if you do say hello with a cheek kiss, it’s good form to also cheek kiss goodbye.
Basic Words and Phrases for Introducing Yourself in Spanish
Spanish introductions are pretty straightforward, so keep it simple. Smile, extend a hand (or a kiss) and respond appropriately to the person you’re meeting or to the one who’s introducing you.
The only real issue to keep in mind is the formality of the meeting. You’ll want to differentiate which version of “you” to use: either the informal tú or the formal usted. With close friends and family, people near your age or casual acquaintances, use tú. Usted is used in formal situations, with older people, strangers and those who deserve an extra level of respect, such as business partners and clergy.
A few phrases will get you through most situations. Let’s check them out!
Buenos días. (Good morning.)
Buenas tardes. (Good afternoon.)
Buenas noches. (Good evening.)
Me llamo… (My name is…)
Soy… (I am…)
Me llamo Susan. (My name is Susan.)
Soy Susan. (I am Susan.)
Soy is sometimes used as an alternative to me llamo. It’s especially suited to casual encounters.
Most times, the person you’re speaking with will reciprocate by divulging their name. If you need to ask, it’s a simple question and easy to keep in mind the se/te (your) distinction that shows formal and informal means of addressing someone.
¿Cómo se llama? (What’s your name?—formal)
¿Cómo te llamas? (What’s your name?—informal)
Responding to an Introduction
Mucho gusto. (Nice to meet you.)
¡Encantado! (Happy to meet you!—masculine)
¡Encantada! (Happy to meet you!—feminine)
Estoy encantada de conocerla/conocerlo. (I’m pleased to meet you.—formal)
Sometimes you’ll be called upon to introduce others to a person or group. This is very uncomplicated so don’t worry about getting it “right”!
Consider the first examples useful for casual situations.
The third one uses quite formal vocabulary and should be saved for very refined situations.
Este es… (This is…)
Se llama… (His/her name is…)
Permíteme presentarle a… (I’d like to introduce you to…)
After you introduce someone, you may want to indicate the relationship you have to that person. Some basic vocabulary will get you through that!
Este es mi… (This is my…)
If you’re meeting the parents and family of someone you’ve been dating, expect to hear these special terms:
The all-purpose “…y tú?/y usted?” (“…and you?”) is used to ask questions to further conversation. Keep in mind that the version used is dependent on the level of formality. As a refresher, tú is informal and usted is formal.
Some good question options are neutral yet inspire further conversation. When you meet someone you want to know more about them than their name, don’t you? Well, it’s a safe bet that those meeting you for the first time are looking for a little extra information, too. Asking questions and providing the information in return is a great way to deepen interactions.
Consider the questions below as super material for getting the conversational ball rolling!
¿A qué te dedicas? (What is your profession?—informal)
¿A qué se dedica? (What is your profession?—formal)
Soy… (I am a…)
¿Estás visitando? (Are you visiting?—informal)
¿Está visitando? (Are you visiting?—formal)
Estoy aquí por negocios. (I am here on business.)
Estoy aquí por placer. (I am here for pleasure.)
Estoy estudiando en la universidad. (I am studying at the university.)
¿De dónde eres? (Where are you from?—informal)
¿De dónde es? (Where are you from?—formal)
Soy de… (I am from)
Estados Unidos (United States)
Remember the handshakes and cheek kissing from the initial meeting? That all applies when the introductions have been made and people are parting ways.
So, if cheeks were offered at the onset of the encounter, expect to rub cheeks again. Otherwise, a genuine smile and firm handshake are sufficient!
¡Un placer conocerte! (Pleasure meeting you!—informal)
¡Un placer conocerla/conocerlo! (Pleasure meeting you!—formal)
¡Hasta mañana! (Until tomorrow!)
¡Hasta luego! (Until next time!)
Literally, hasta luego means “until then,” but the expression is an all-purpose phrase used to convey the thought that two people will be seeing each other again in the future.
First meetings are essential and often very important. They can set the tone for a relationship, so it’s important to greet and meet with confidence.
Be friendly in any situation. Use the correct phrases to eliminate the awkwardness that sometimes happens when people meet for the first time.
Greet with confidence to put others—and yourself—at ease.
The correct version of an introduction is determined by several factors—mostly, by familiarity and how casual the situation is—so choose wisely! If you’re unsure, lean toward formality. You can always ease into a more laid-back approach after the ice is broken.
Whether you’re in a Spanish-speaking environment for academic reasons, business interests or just travel, knowing how to greet others will make your experience much more meaningful.
Regardless of your location—Madrid, Guatemala or any other of the incredible spots where Spanish is the most widely spoken language—with these basic introductory phrases under your belt you’ll be able to make friends and acquaintances without any trouble at all.
Share more than your name when you meet and greet. Learn about others and let them get to know you, too!
Have fun and good luck!
And One More Thing…
If you've made it this far that means you probably enjoy learning Spanish with engaging material and will then love FluentU.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos, as you can see here:
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Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
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