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Common Intermediate Spanish Phrases

So you know all the basics, but you still get confused when listening to native speakers.

Or maybe you’re doing well with comprehension but you want to sound a bit more natural when engaging in everyday conversation.

These 60 colloquial Spanish phrases are perfect for intermediate-level learners looking for a boost in fluency. 

They’re commonly used expressions that will help you get one step ahead in your language learning. 

Learn a few each day and you’ll soon be sounding like a local! 

Contents


1. No hace falta (It’s not necessary)

No hace falta is a great way to say something is unnecessary without using the literal translation, no es necesario.

You can also use the verb phrase hacer falta to say that you miss someone: me haces falta (I miss you), me hace falta  (I miss him/her/it), etc. 

No te preocupes, no hace falta hacer nada. (Don’t worry, it’s not necessary to do anything.)

2. Qué más da  (What does it matter)

Qué más da is a colloquial way to say that something isn’t important. You could translate it as “What does it matter?” or “Who cares?”

A similar colloquial expression the Spanish use to express this sentiment is no es para tanto  (it’s not a big deal).

Qué más da si vamos al cine o a cenar, lo importante es pasar tiempo juntos. (What does it matter if we go to the movies or out for dinner, the important thing is to spend time together.)

3. A gusto  (At ease/comfortable)

Yes, you can say cómodo/a (comfortable). But using a gusto will help you sound more like a native speaker. 

Me siento muy a gusto aquí.  (I feel really comfortable here.)

4. Ventilarse + [noun] (To finish off something)

Instead of the verbs terminar or acabarse, you can use the reflexive verb ventilarse (to ventilate) to say that you’ve finished a certain food, series, etc. For example:

En el ultimo mes nos hemos ventilado unas 2 o 3 series de principio a fin. (In the past month we’ve finished two or three series from start to finish.) 

Me he ventilado las galletas. (I’ve finished off all of the cookies.) 

When you use ventilarse with beverages it means to “down” or to “chug”:

Se ha ventilado la cerveza de un trago. (He downed the beer in one gulp.)

5. No me sale (I can’t do it well/It doesn’t work out for me)

No me sale is a simple phrase that’s similar to saying something “just doesn’t work out for me.” It can be used for a variety of things—for example, when talking about your cooking skills:

La tortilla española no me sale. (I can’t cook a Spanish omelette well.)

No me sale el pino. (I can’t do a handstand/My handstands don’t turn out right.)

No me ha salido el trabajo ese del que te hablaba el otro día. (That job I was talking to you about the other day didn’t work out for me.)

6. ¡Estoy muy ilusionado! / ¡Tengo mucha ilusión! (I’m really excited!)

Instead of always using the adjective emocionado/a (excited), you can use one of these two phrases to express your excitement. 

Estoy muy ilusionado por mi próximo viaje a España. (I am very excited about my upcoming trip to Spain.)

7. ¡Me estoy meando!  (I really have to pee!)

This colloquial Spanish phrase literally means “I’m peeing myself,” but it’s used in Spain to say that you really need to go, not that you’re actually going.  

Tenemos que encontrar un baño. ¡Me estoy meando! (We need to find a bathroom. I really have to pee!) 

8. Me siento fatal  (I feel terrible)

Me siento fatal can be used to mean feeling bad physically or feeling guilty for something. 

Me siento fatal porque no pude asistir a la boda de mi mejor amiga. (I feel terrible because I couldn’t attend my best friend’s wedding.)

Me siento fatal. Bebí demasiado y ahora tengo resaca. (I feel awful. I drank too much, and now I have a hangover.)

9. Estoy mal / Me encuentro mal (I’m sick)

Like the previous one, these phrases can be used instead of Estoy enfermo/a (I’m sick). Me encuentro mal is more formal and literally translates to “I find myself unwell.” 

If you want to be more specific you can say “Estoy mal/Me encuentro mal de(l)_____” (estómago—stomach, la garganta—the throat, etc.). 

Estoy mal del estómago. Comí algo que no me cayó bien. (I have a stomachache. I ate something that didn’t agree with me.)

No voy al trabajo hoy porque me encuentro mal. (I’m not going to work today because I’m feeling unwell.)

10. Echar un vistazo  (To take a look)

If you try to translate “to take a look” literally into Spanish, you’d get something like “tomar una mirada,” which doesn’t exist. Instead, we use the phrase echar un vistazo.

¿Puedo echar un vistazo a las fotos de la boda? (Can I take a look at the photos from the wedding?)

11. No se me ocurre nada  (I can’t think of anything)

This colloquial phrase uses another reflexive verb (ocurrirse) so it literally means “nothing occurs to me.”

Another phrase you might say to express this same idea is Tengo la mente en blanco.  (I’m drawing a blank).

No se me ocurre nada interesante que hacer este fin de semana, ¿tienes alguna sugerencia? (I can’t think of anything interesting to do this weekend, do you have any suggestions?)

12. No me he enterado de nada (I didn’t understand a thing)

You can use the verb entender (to understand), but using the reflexive verb enterarse (to find out) is more colloquial.

Lo siento pero no me he enterado de nada. ¿Podrías hablar más despacio? (Sorry but I didn’t understand anything you just said. Could you speak more slowly?)

13. Llevo + [time period] + aquí (I’ve been here for [time period])

The literal translation, which is also correct, would use haber estado. For example, He estado en Espana por un mes (I’ve been in Spain for a month).

But using the verb llevar is much simpler and more common among native speakers. It means “to carry,” but can be used to say how much time you’ve been somewhere. You can also use it to talk about a certain state of being or condition.

Llevo un mes en España. (I’ve been in Spain for a month.)

Lleva cinco días con tos. (He’s had a cough for five days.)

14. Ser un rollo  (To be boring)

Un rollo is a slang term often used in Spain. It can replace aburrido/a and make you sound more like a local. 

La reunión fue un rollo. (The meeting was so boring.)

15. Hacer caso  (To listen/obey/pay attention)

Hacer caso is used to indicate that someone is listening to or following someone else’s advice or instructions. It can be used alone or with an indirect pronoun, and is often used in the command form

No le hagas caso a esos rumores, no son ciertos. (Don’t pay attention to those rumors; they aren’t true.)

Hazme caso y estudia para el examen. (Listen to me and study for the exam.)

Hacer caso a los consejos de los expertos es importante. (Paying attention to the advice of experts is important.)

16. Estoy hecho polvo  (I’m exhausted)

Rather than just saying Estoy muy cansado/a (I’m really tired), you can use Estoy hecho polvo or another colloquial expression, Estoy derrotado (I’m destroyed). 

Remember that hecho is the participle of the verb hacer, not an adjective, so it doesn’t take gender. If you’re female, you’d still use hecho polvo.

Después de correr esa maratón, estoy hecho polvo. (After running that marathon, I’m completely exhausted.)

17. Tener buena pinta (To look good/delicious)

Tener buena pinta is an idiomatic expression that means “to have a good appearance” or “to look good.” It’s commonly used to describe something that seems appealing, attractive or promising based on its outward appearance.

El proyecto parece tener buena pinta. (The project seems to look promising.)

¿Quieres probar este plato? Tiene muy buena pinta. (Do you want to try this dish? It looks very good.)

18. ¡Qué va!  (No way!/Yeah right!)

This is an expression used in Spain. ¡Qué bobada! , ¡Qué disparate! and ¡Qué tontería!  are very similar phrases that can also be used to respond to something you think it ridiculous or unbelievable. 

¿Crees que Ana se haya olvidado de nuestra cita? (Do you think Ana forgot about our date?)

¡Qué va! Ella siempre es muy puntual. (No way! She’s always very punctual.)

19. Ser de cajón  (To be obvious)

This idiomatic expression is used to convey that something is absolutely certain or obvious. It’s similar in meaning to the English phrase “it’s a no-brainer.” 

¿Vas a ir a la boda de Juan y Ana? (Are you going to Juan and Ana’s wedding?)

Claro, ¡es de cajón! Son mis mejores amigos. (Of course, it’s a no-brainer! They’re my best friends.)

20. Pasarse de alto (To overlook/go over one’s head)

You can use pasarse de alto when you forget or overlook something. It’s usually used with se to indicate that it was accidental. 

Sí, eso se me había pasado por alto. (Yes, I didn’t think of that.)

Lo siento mucho, se me pasó por alto la fecha de tu cumpleaños. (I’m so sorry, I missed your birthday.)

21. No tener nada que ver con (To have nothing to do with)

Instead of using the verb hacer (to do/to make), in Spanish we use the verb ver (to see) for this phrase. 

Eso no tiene nada que ver con lo que estoy diciendo. (That has nothing to do with what I’m talking about.)

22. Darse cuenta (To realize/become aware)

In Spanish, realizar is a false friend that actually means “to carry out,” not “to realize.” To say “to realize” in Spanish, we use darse cuenta.

Note that darse is a reflexive verb and that we follow the phrase with de que.

Tienes que darte cuenta de que él nunca va a cambiar. (You have to realize that he’s never going to change.)

No me di cuenta de que me había dejado la cartera en casa hasta que tuve que pagar en el supermercado. (I didn’t realize I had left my wallet at home until I had to pay at the supermarket.)

23. Dar en el blanco / Dar en el clavo  (To hit the nail on the head)

These are two phrases you can use to say that someone has “hit the nail on the head” or “hit the mark.” El clavo means “the nail” and el blanco means “the target.”

Eso es exactamente lo que esperaba. Has dado en el blanco. (That’s exactly what I was hoping for. You’ve hit the nail on the head.)

24. Hacerse un lío (To get oneself into a mess/To be confused)

This phrase is used when someone is in a confusing or messy situation, or when they’re feeling perplexed.

Me parece que te has hecho un lío. (I think you’re very confused.)

25. Tener toda la razón  (To be correct)

In Spanish, we use the verb tener razón when speaking of people being right or correct, not estar correcto/a. Tener toda la razón is used to express your complete agreement with someone.

Tienes toda la razón del mundo. (You are absolutely correct.)

26. A medida que  (As)

This phrase is used to indicate that something happened as a result of or at the same time as something else.

A medida que avanzábamos, el paisaje iba cambiando. (As we advanced, the landscape changed.)

27. Al principio  (At first)

This phrase is used to refer to the initial stage of something. It’s different from a principios below, which is used to talk about a certain time period. 

Al principio, no entendía nada de lo que decía. (At first, I didn’t understand anything he was saying.)

28. A principios (At the beginning)

This phrase is used when talking about the early part of a certain time period. For example, the start of a week, month or year.

Notice that we don’t use the article before the time period (just mes rather than el mes, semana rather than la semana, etc.).

Tenemos que pagar el alquiler a principios de mes. (We have to pay rent at the beginning of the month.)

29. A mediados (In the middle)

This phrase is similar to the previous one but indicates a point in the middle of a time period.

Llegarán a mediados de semana. (They’re arriving in the middle of the week.)

30. A finales (At the end)

Again, this phrase is similar to the previous two but refers to the concluding part of a time period, typically at the end of a week or month.

A finales de mes, planeamos un viaje a la playa. (At the end of the month, we’re planning a trip to the beach.)

31. Me apunto (I’m in/I’m signing up for)

This is a casual way to express your willingness to participate or join in a particular activity, plan or event. It’s similar to saying, “Count me in” or “I’m on board” in English.

You can respond to an invitation with just “¡Me apunto!” or follow the phrase with a and then the event or activity. 

Me apunto a la clase de yoga que comienza la próxima semana. (I’m signing up for the yoga class that starts next week.)

32. De hecho (In fact/actually)

This phrase is used to emphasize that something is a fact or reality, often implying that the reality is surprising or unexpected. 

No llegué tarde. De hecho, llegué temprano. (I didn’t arrive late. In fact, I arrived early.)

33. Por supuesto  (Of course)

This phrase is used to affirm something positively and indicate strong agreement.

Por supuesto que puedes unirte a nosotros. (Of course you can join us.)

34. Sin embargo  (However)

This phrase is used to introduce a contrasting idea or statement. It’s somewhat formal and often seen in Spanish writing

No me gustó la película. Sin embargo, la actuación fue buena. (I didn’t like the movie. However, the acting was good.)

35. A pesar de (que)  (Despite)

This phrase is used to indicate something happening despite a particular circumstance or obstacle.

When followed with a noun, we just say a pesar de. But if using it with a verb, you must add que before the verb. 

A pesar de la lluvia, salimos a caminar. (Despite the rain, we went for a walk.)

A pesar de que llovió toda la semana, disfrutamos de nuestras vacaciones en la playa. (Despite it raining all week, we enjoyed our beach vacation.)

36. Por lo tanto  (Therefore)

Por lo tanto is used to express a logical consequence or conclusion based on the preceding information.

No estudié para el examen; por lo tanto, saqué una mala nota. (I didn’t study for the test; therefore, I got a bad grade.)

37. Al mismo tiempo (At the same time)

Al mismo tiempo is used when referring to two or more actions or events occurring concurrently.

Estudiar y trabajar al mismo tiempo puede ser un desafío. (Studying and working at the same time can be challenging.)

38. De todos modos  (Anyway)

De todos modos is used to convey the idea of proceeding with something regardless of the circumstances or other factors.

No me importa si vas o no. Iré de todos modos. (I don’t care if you go or not. I’ll go anyway.)

39. En otras palabras  (In other words)

Just like the English equivalent, en otras palabras is used when providing a rephrased or clarified version of a statement.

En otras palabras, necesitas estudiar más. (In other words, you need to study more.)

40. Valer la pena (To be worth it)

Valer la pena is used to express that something is worth the effort or investment. You can conjugate it in any tense. 

Visitar ese museo vale la pena. (Visiting that museum is worth it.)

Valió la pena esperar dos años por la nueva temporada. (The new season was worth waiting two years for.)

41. Tener en cuenta  (To take into account)

Tener en cuenta is used when considering or including something in one’s plans or decisions.

No debes tener en cuenta las opiniones de los demás. (You shouldn’t take other people’s opinions into account.)

42. A fin de cuentas (In the end)

This phrase is used to emphasize the ultimate or most important aspect of a situation.

Hicimos todo lo que pudimos. A fin de cuentas, eso es lo importante. (We did everything we could. In the end, that’s what matters.)

43. Cada vez más (More and more/Increasingly)

Cada vez más literally translates to “each time more” and is used to indicate a growing or increasing trend.

Cada vez más personas están aprendiendo español. (More and more people are learning Spanish.)

44. Por otro lado (On the other hand)

This phrase is used to introduce a contrasting viewpoint or perspective.

Me gustaría viajar, pero, por otro lado, necesito ahorrar dinero. (I’d like to travel, but, on the other hand, I need to save money.)

45. Llevarse a cabo (To be carried out/To take place)

Llevarse a cabo is used to describe an event, action or project taking place or being executed.

La conferencia se llevará a cabo en el salón principal del hotel. (The conference will take place in the main hall of the hotel.)

46. En cuanto a  (Regarding)

This phrase is used to introduce a topic or discuss something related to a particular subject.

En cuanto a la reunión, se llevará a cabo mañana. (Regarding the meeting, it will take place tomorrow.)

47. Hasta cierto punto  (To some extent)

Hasta cierto punto indicates that something is true or valid only up to a certain limit or extent.

Es una buena idea, hasta cierto punto. (It’s a good idea, to some extent.)

48. Más vale tarde que nunca (Better late than never)

This expression is equivalent to the classic English idiom and suggests that it’s preferable for something to happen late rather than not at all.

Se demoró tres meses para recibir las fotos, pero más vale tarde que nunca. (It took three months to receive the photos, but better late than never.)

49. Poco a poco  (Little by little)

This phrase refers to doing something gradually or step by step, rather than all at once.

Aprender un nuevo idioma lleva tiempo; es mejor hacerlo poco a poco. (Learning a new language takes time; it’s better to do it little by little.)

50. En resumen (In summary)

This phrase is used to provide a concise summary or conclusion of something.

En resumen, el proyecto fue un éxito. (In summary, the project was a success.)

51. A falta de (In the absence of)

A falta de indicates that something is done or occurs (or doesn’t occur) when there’s a lack or absence of something else.

A falta de dinero, no pudimos ir de vacaciones. (In the absence of money, we couldn’t go on vacation.)

52. Al final del día  (At the end of the day)

This expression is used to emphasize what’s most important or true when everything is considered.

Al final del día, lo que importa es la felicidad. (At the end of the day, what matters is happiness.)

53. A su vez (In turn)

A su vez indicates a sequence or order of actions, with each person or thing following the other.

Ella tomó una decisión y, a su vez, nosotros debemos hacer lo mismo. (She made a decision, and, in turn, we should do the same.)

54. A su manera  (In one’s own way)

This phrase means that each person has their unique approach or perspective on something.

Cada persona ve el mundo a su manera. (Everyone sees the world in their own way.)

55. Estar al tanto (To be up to date)

Estar al tanto means to be informed or knowledgeable about the latest information or developments.

Siempre estoy al tanto de las noticias locales. (I’m always up to date with local news.)

56. Ponerse al día (To catch up)

This phrase refers to the action of updating oneself on recent events, information or knowledge. It can be used in various contexts, such as catching up on news, work, studies, or events in someone’s life.

Después de mis vacaciones, necesito ponerme al día en el trabajo. (After my vacation, I need to catch up on work.)

¿Quieres ir por un café? ¡Necesitamos ponernos al día! (Do you want to get a coffee? We need to catch up!) 

57. Darle vueltas a…  (To mull over)

This phrase means to think deeply or repeatedly about something.

Llevo días dándole vueltas a la decisión que debo tomar. (I’ve been mulling over the decision I need to make for days.)

58. Dejar de lado (To set aside)

This phrase is used when you put something aside or stop paying attention to it.

Deja de lado tus preocupaciones y disfruta del moment. (Set aside your worries and enjoy the moment.)

59. Hacer la vista gorda  (To turn a blind eye)

This phrase means to intentionally ignore or pretend not to notice something.

El profesor hizo la vista gorda cuando vio a los estudiantes usando sus teléfonos en clase. (The teacher turned a blind eye when he saw the students using their phones in class.)

60. Dejar plantado / plantada (To stand someone up)

This phrase is used when someone fails to meet a commitment, especially in the context of not showing up for a date or appointment.

The ending depends on the gender of the person who’s been stood up. Remember that you must use the personal a if followed by a person:

Ese chico dejó plantada a Lucía la semana pasada. (That guy stood Lucía up last week.)

Ella me dejó plantado en el restaurante anoche. (She stood me up at the restaurant last night.)

How to Learn More Intermediate Spanish Phrases

A good way to learn intermediate Spanish phrases that might not have literal translations is to expose yourself to some real Spanish media. That way, you’ll be thinking more like a Spanish speaker, rather than an English speaker.

You can find authentic content on platforms like Netflix or YouTube. Focus on the material that shows realistic usage of Spanish. Jot down the specific instances in which you hear new phrases. Based on the context, you can try to make a guess as to what the colloquialisms actually mean.

Another option is the language learning program FluentU, which uses a library of Spanish videos that include intermediate-level content.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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