They say there’s no better way to learn a language than sleeping with a dictionary.
Dating will give you a real insider’s view of your travel destination!
Hitting the streets of a new city, meeting locals, and striking up a spark with someone is a fantastic introduction to life and love in a foreign country. Your social life abroad will be an important part of your Spanish language immersion. Sure, it can be fun to use movies, podcasts, and social media to learn Spanish, but non of that can beat real conversations with native speakers. While you’re out on the town, take these words and phrases for a spin to improve your language skills and impress your date with your fluency!
Basic Spanish phrases for first encounters
When someone catches your eye, you’ll want to introduce yourself and break the ice. Start off with some basic phrases like:
What’s your name? – ¿Cómo te llamas? (coh-moh teh yah-mahs)
Nice to meet you – Mucho gusto (moo-choh goos-toh)
What’s up? – ¿Qué tal? (kay tahl)
How you doin’? – ¿Cómo vas? (coh-moh vahs)
Can I buy you a drink? – ¿Te invito a tomar algo? (teh een-vee-toh ah toh-mahr ahl-goh)
Would you like to go out with me? – ¿Quisieras salir conmigo? (kee-see-eh-rahs sah-leer kohn-mee-goh)
I’ll pay –Yo te invito. (yoh teh een-vee-toh)
In Spanish, you literally say, “I invite you” to whatever it is that you’re footing the bill for. It’s a much friendlier and less financially-focused way to offer, in my opinion. Throw in a “don’t worry about it,” “no te preocupes” (noh teh preh-oh-coo-pehs) for an added touch of coolness.
Spanish Love language
Okay, great, they accepted your invitation for a date! Now it’s time to do what everyone does before the first big date: study. You don’t do that? Maybe I’m just a huge nerd. Regardless, you’ll be thanking this nerd when your relationship progresses and you have this fantastic vocabulary at your disposal:
A date – Una cita (oo-nah see-tah)
Boyfriend, Girlfriend – Enamorado, Enamorada (eh-nah-moh-rah-doh/dah)
While it literally translates to “in love,” this term denotes a more casual level of affection. This can be used after dating exclusively for a couple of weeks or months. Remember that “a” endings are used when speaking about female subjects, and “o” is for male subjects.
Fiancé(e) or serious boyfriend/girlfriend – Novio/Novia (noh-vee-oh/ah)
This term indicates a far greater level of commitment than the previous one. Don’t use it unless you’re engaged or have been dating for a long time!
To hold hands – Cogerse la mano (coh-hehr-seh lah mah-noh)
Hug – Abrazo (ah-brah-zoh)
Kiss – Beso (beh-soh)
Going on a date with a Spanish speaker
Let’s imagine you’re out for a night of dancing at a local club, club (cloob), or discotheque, discoteca (dees-koh-teh-kah). I know that the cool kids don’t say discotheque anymore in English, but it’s the common term in Spanish. Beware the cantina (cahn-tee-nah)! I’ve heard that Spanish cantinas can be lovely spaces, but in Latin America a cantina is usually a dark, sleazy hole in the wall. Going out to dance is a great way to find new favorite Spanish songs to later use for listening practice.
Want to check in on your date and be sure they’re having a good time? No matter how nervous and tongue-tied you might feel, it doesn’t require much courage to simply ask:
Are you having a good time? – ¿Te estás disfrutando? (teh ehs-tahs dees-froo-tahn-doh)
Do you like this music? – ¿Te gusta esta música? (teh goos-tah ehs-tah moo-see-kah)
Great, they’re digging the music and the atmosphere, all is well. The mood is right to invite them out onto the dance floor.
Do you want to dance? – ¿Te gustaría bailar? (teh goos-tah-ree-ah bai-lahr)
If there is too much noise to communicate well, just scream “Let’s dance!” “¡Bailemos!” (bai-leh-mohs) into their ear as loudly as possible. If all else fails you can just do a wild charades-style imitation of a dance to get the message across.
When the packed room, body heat and booming speakers become insufferable, invite your date outside:
Let’s go outside for some fresh air – Vamos afuera a tomar aire fresco (vah-mohs ah-fweh-rah ah toh-mahr ay-reh frehs-coh)
A few minutes alone outside gives you both a chance to catch your breath, chat, flirt – coquetear (coh-keh-teh-ahr) – and decide the fate of the evening. When you’re both ready to move on to the next venue, you can suggest:
Let’s go somewhere else – Vamos a otro lado (vah-mohs ah oh-troh lah-doh)
If you need to excuse yourself for a moment to answer your phone, use the bathroom, or question your decisions in life, let them know:
I’m coming right back – Ya vengo (yah vehn-goh)
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Spanish questions to get to know each other
While chatting at a restaurant or outside the club, use some of these classic questions to get to know your date a little better:
Do you work or study? – ¿Trabajas o estudias? (trah-bah-hahs oh ehs-too-dee-ahs)
How many brothers and sisters do you have? – ¿Cuántos hermanos tienes? (koo-ahn-tohs ehr-mah-nohs tee-eh-nehs).
The way Spanish gender agreement works, we lump male and female siblings together underneath the male ending. Bonus advice: the first date is not a good place to jump into a feminist rant on the complex politics and prejudice of language.
What type of food do you like to eat? – ¿Qué tipo de comida te gusta comer? (keh tee-poh deh koh-mee-dah teh goos-tah koh-mehr)
What type of music do you listen to? – ¿Qué tipo de música escuchas? (keh tee-poh deh moo-see-kah ehs-koo-chas)
Do you know how to dance? – ¿Sabes bailar? (sah-behs bai-lahr)
Flirting in Spanish
The mood is right and you want to let your date know you’re feeling the good vibes. Use some of these nice compliments to boost their date-satisfaction levels off the charts!
You’re cute – Eres lindo/linda (eh-rehs leen-doh/leen-dah)
You look beautiful / handsome tonight –Te ves hermosa / guapo esta noche (teh vehs ehr-moh-sah/wah-poh ehs-tah noh-che)
I like your smile – Me gusta tu sonrisa (meh goohs-tah too sohn-ree-sah)
You’re funny! – ¡Tú eres chistoso! (tu eh-rehs chee-stoh-soh)
I’ve been thinking about you – He estado pensando en ti (eh eh-stah-doh pen-sahn-doh ehn tee)
I can’t wait to see you – ¡No puedo esperar para volver a verte! (noh pwey-doh ehs-peh-rahr pah-rah vohl-vehr ah vehr teh)
Rejecting suitors in Spanish
You’ll need to know these phrases to politely reject an interested suitor from the get-go, or to slow things down – lots of us don’t catch the hint even in our native language:
I have a boyfriend/girlfriend – Tengo un novio / una novia (tehn-goh oon noh-vee-oh / oo-nah noh-vee-ah)
I want to take things slow – Quiero tomar las cosas con calma (kyeh-roh toh-mahr lahs koh-sahs kohn kahl-mah).
I’m not looking for a relationship – No quiero nada serio (noh kyeh-roh nah-dah seh-ree-oh)
I think we should take some time (read: time apart) – Deberíamos darnos un tiempo (deh-beh-ree-ah-mohs dahr-nohs oon tee-ehm-poh)
Romantic Spanish phrases to turn it up a notch
I know that last section was a bit negative, but I’m honestly rooting for you here! Here are some phrases to help you take things to the next level:
Where do you live? – ¿Dónde vives? (dohn-deh vee-vehs)
Would you like to come in? – ¿Quieres pasar? (kyeh-rehs pah-sahr)
Would you like me to walk you home? – ¿Quieres que te acompañe a la casa? (kyeh-rehs keh teh ah-kohm-pahn-yeh ah lah kah-sah) This phrase is only suggestive if you really want it to be. Otherwise, it’s a polite gesture.
Want to see the roof? – ¿Quieres ver la terraza? (Kyeh-rehs vehr lah teh-rah-zah) Because who can resist the romance of a moonlit rooftop?
When can I see you again? – ¿Cuándo te vuelvo a ver? (Kwahn-doh the vwehl-voh ah vehr)
Hopefully they’ll hit you back with a suave “I like your style” “Me gusta tu estilo” (meh goos-tah too ehs-tee-loh) or “eres buena onda” (eh-rehs bweh-nah ohn-dah).
Good luck out there!
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