47 Spanish Exclamations and Interjections to Add Dramatic Flair to Your Conversations
One big thing that marks you out as a foreigner? A lack of Spanish exclamations and interjections.
Interjections are words or brief phrases that express emotions or feelings. The key is that the word or phrase “interjects” or “interrupts” the rest of the phrase.
These are often exclamations, but not always.
How can we language learners avoid sticking out like a sore thumb when in casual speaking situations?
By “kitting ourselves out” with a whole toolbox of Spanish interjections and exclamations for any occasion, of course!
- 1. ¡Por favor!
- 2. ¡Dios (mío)!
- 3. ¡Qué susto!
- 4. ¡Venga!
- 5. Cállate (hombre)
- 6. ¡Ay!
- 7. ¡Porque no!
- 8. ¡Fíjate!
- 9. ¡Joder!
- 10. ¡Oye!
- 11. ¡Hala!
- 12. ¡Olé!
- 13. Guay
- 14. Vale
- 15. Órale
- 16. Guau
- 17. Arriba
- 18. Bravo
- 19. Gracias a Dios / Bendito sea Dios
- 20. Menos mal
- 21. Cáspita
- 22. Dale
- 23. Claro
- 24. Hurra
- 25. Che
- 26. Buen provecho
- 27. Buena suerte
- 28. Huy
- 29. Híjole
- 30. Uf
- 31. Qué horror
- 32. Qué lástima
- 33. Bah
- 34. Újule
- 35. Por Dios
- 36. Ay de mí
- 37. Porfis / Porfi / Porfa
- 38. Ándale
- 39. Ojo / Cuidado
- 40. Ojalá
- 41. Ajá
- 42. Qué bárbaro
- 43. Caramba
- 44. Caracoles
- 45. Córcholis / Recórcholis
- 46. Vaya
- 47. Ave María
- Why Learn Spanish Interjections?
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
1. ¡Por favor!
As beginner Spanish learners, we were taught that por favor means “please.” It does, but it also can be used as an exclamation to express anger, pleading or exasperation depending on how you pronounce it.
A short, sharp “¡Por favor!” with the stress on the or sound is like “For goodness sake!” when you’re exasperated and telling someone off.
By stretching the or sound you can use it as a pleading or bored appeal for someone to stop what they’re doing and move on.
Por favoooor…vamos. (Pleeease…let’s go.)
2. ¡Dios (mío)!
Spanish speakers often use “Dios” (“God”) as an expression of amazement or sometimes disgust (if said with a sneer). The exclamations “My God!” or “Oh my God!” in English are sometimes used the same way as “¡Dios mío!”
When Dios is used alone, the stress is on the o sound, i.e. “¡Dios!“ You can also stretch the o or s sounds to express shock, disgust or exasperation.
Dioosssss…¡es una matanza! (God….it’s a bloodbath!)
Dios mío is usually said with the stress mostly on the mío. The í sound can be stretched to express exasperation.
¡Dios mííío! ¡Qué desordenado que eres! (My God! You’re so disorganized!)
3. ¡Qué susto!
“¡Qué susto!” is used to mean “What a surprise!” It’s used to express shock, both to show when you’re shocked yourself and also to show you understand when someone is telling you about a fright they experienced themselves.
Venga literally means “(you) come,” but it’s used in the same way as the English exclamation “come on!”
A short “¡Venga!” is used as an order, if said strongly. If said softly, it’s more of a suggestion to leave a place or move on to the next thing.
By stretching the final a sound into “¡Vengaaaaa!” you can express exasperation when someone’s taking a long time to leave a party.
Vengaaa, tío. Vamos a perder el tren. (Come on, dude. We’re going to miss the train.)
Depending on how you say it, stretching the e sound (“Veeenga!”) can also be used to express exasperation, or also express that you think that the other person is talking nonsense.
Veeenga, no lo creo. (Yeah right, I don’t believe it.)
5. Cállate (hombre)
“¡Cállate!” means “shut up!” and so should be used sparingly.
The addition of hombre (man/dude) allows you to use it more softly, kind of how we’ll laughingly say “shut up!” to express disbelief in conversational English.
Also, like “¡Veeenga!” you can use it to mean “bullshit.”
A short, sharp “¡Cállate!” is a forceful way of using this to mean “Shut up!”
Stretching the á sound can either make it more forceful (if said louder) or softer (if said at a conversational level).
The most friendly way of using it is to stretch the á and o sounds in a friendly voice:
“Cáááállate, hoooombre, por favor!” to mean something like “Please, man, just be quiet.”
Stretching the final e sound, with the stress on the lla, can be done to say “Bullsh*t!” when someone is talking nonsense.
Cállateee…¡qué tontería! (Shut up…what nonsense!)
It’s usually a friendly exclamation, though it can also be used to express disgust or surprise.
A soft “¡Ayyy!” (stretching the “y” sound) can be used as an affectionate noise, for example, when a child falls and hurts themselves.
Ayyy…pobrecito. (Poor little thing.)
To express disgust (when someone’s telling you something unpleasant you don’t want to hear) the y sound is also stretched but more forcefully.
¡Ayyyyy!… ¡No me digas eso! (Don’t tell me that!)
A shorter, sharp “¡Ay!” can be used to show surprise.
¡Ay! ¡Qué susto! (Woah! What a shock!)
7. ¡Porque no!
This is an exclamation you might use very often in Spanish when being asked “Why?”
“¡Porque no!” means “Just no!”
When you’re barking this as an order, there’s a heavy stress on the word no!
However, you don’t have to shout this for it to be effective. As it expresses a strong “no,” it works well even if you say it quite softly.
The reflexive verb fijarse means to pay attention. So fíjate means “pay attention to this/that.” You simply can use it to draw someone’s attention to something, but as an exclamation, it’s also used to express surprise, like “Look at that!”
The stress is on the fí part of the word, i.e. “¡Fíjate!”
That’s the most common swear word in Spain which is comparable to an F-bomb.
Swearing is a bit more acceptable in Spanish than it is in English, although it depends on the people around you, so listen out to whether other people are cursing to make sure you aren’t going to offend anyone.
The stress in this exclamation comes strongly in a short, sharp e sound: “¡Joder!“
The meaning of “¡Oye!” is a bit like “Hey!” (when it’s used as an exclamation) and can be used pretty much the same way, either to call someone’s attention or objecting to something they have done or said.
The stress usually falls on the syllable ye, i.e. “¡Oye!”
You can use it to get someone’s attention, for example, when calling to someone you know.
It’s often used when you’re exclaiming an objection.
¡Oye! ¡¿Qué haces?! (Hey! What are you doing?!)
It’s used a bit like “Wow!” and also to hurry someone up, like “Come on!”
Usually, the final a sound is stretched out into “¡Halaaa!” when the exclamation is used to mean “Wow!”
¡Halaaa! ¡Mira qué chula está la luna! (Wow! Look how pretty the moon is!)
When used to hurry someone up, the word is shorter and the stress is usually placed on the first a as “¡Hala!”
¡Hala, venga! ¡Pásame la pelota! (Come on! Pass me the ball!)
This word isn’t used nearly as often as you would think, given its prevalence in the Spanish stereotype.
It’s often associated with Flamenco, where people shout it to express that they’re impressed by the dancing and musical skills of the performers.
However, it can be exclaimed during any impressive performance.
¡Olé! is nearly always shouted out loudly, with the stress on the é sound.
Use it to cheer someone on when they’re performing.
This word is used mostly in Spain. When used as an interjection, this expresses approval like “cool” or “terrific.”
While this can also be a conjugation of valer (to be worth/to cost), in Spain, vale is used as an interjection meaning “okay.”
This word is used in Mexican-American slang and in parts of Mexico. It means “sure” or “okay.”
This word can mean “wow” or “woof” (as in the noise a dog makes) depending on the context.
Arriba often means “up,” but as an interjection, it can also indicate approval or excitement.
This is a tough one. Bravo means “bravo.” In either language, it’s used to applaud a good job.
19. Gracias a Dios / Bendito sea Dios
Gracias a Dios literally means “thank God,” while Bendito sea Dios means “God be praised.”
Both are used like the English expressions “thank God” or “thank goodness.”
20. Menos mal
This phrase is used to express relief. It literally means “less bad.” It’s similar to the English words “whew” and “phew.”
Though it has no direct translation, it’s used to denote admiration like the English word “wonderful.”
Dale can mean “go for it,” but it can also mean “okay” depending on the context.
Claro and its sister phrase claro que sí are both used to mean “of course.”
This is used like “hurrah” or “hurray.”
This interjection from Argentina and Uruguay is used like “bro” or “dude.”
However, it can also be a greeting like “hey” or even as a phrase to question understanding such as “right?”
26. Buen provecho
This literally means “good benefit,” but it’s used to mean “bon appetit.”
27. Buena suerte
Buena suerte simply means “good luck.”
Huy often indicates pain, like “ow” or “ouch.”
But because the world is a strange and confusing place, it can also be used as “oops,” “jeez” or even “wow.”
Used primarily in Mexico and Central America, this term indicates exasperation.
It’s similar to “jeez” or “wow.”
This interjection indicates exhaustion.
It’s much like the English word “oof” or the Upper Midwestern phrase “uff da.”
31. Qué horror
Qué horror literally means “what horror.”
It’s similar to the English phrase “how awful.”
32. Qué lástima
Qué lástima means “what a pity.”
If you want to change it up, you can also try qué pena which means “what a shame.”
In both Spanish and English, “bah” denotes disapproval or contempt.
This expression of surprise can either express disapproval or admiration.
It’s most common in Mexico.
35. Por Dios
This can mean “for God’s sake” or “God, help me.”
36. Ay de mí
Ay de mí means approximately “oh my” or “poor me.”
37. Porfis / Porfi / Porfa
Porfis, profi and porfa are all cutesy ways to abbreviate por favor (please). Think of them as the Spanish-language versions of “pretty please.”
To keep your pride intact, you might want to avoid using porfis and porfi in conversation since it’ll make you seem a bit desperate, unless you want to sound a bit baby-like or sound jokingly silly.
Porfa seems a little less juvenile, but it’s casual, so don’t try it on your boss.
It comes from the word andar meaning “to go/walk/take/work/be/act.”
But what does it mean as an interjection?
Depending on the context, it can mean “hurry up,” “come on” or “alright.”
That may seem simple enough, but the thing is, it can indicate approval, disapproval or pretty much anything in between.
Sometimes, you might even hear “ándale pues” which often means “okay, then.”
This is another interjection where you really need to judge the context to figure out the meaning.
39. Ojo / Cuidado
Ojo literally means “eye” while cuidado means “careful,” but both words are used to urge caution like the English phrase “Look out!”
Ojalá is used like “I hope so.”
Ajá can mean “aha” or “uh-huh.” It’s used to denote understanding or to reply to a question in the affirmative.
It can also, however, indicate surprise or acknowledgment sort of like “oh.”
42. Qué bárbaro
Qué bárbaro literally means “how barbaric,” so you think this would express disapproval.
Sometimes, it’s used to mean “how awful.” However, it’s often used to mean “how cool” or “how terrific,” particularly in Argentina.
Fans of “The Simpsons,” take note: Sometimes used in the spoken phrase “ay, caramba,” caramba usually indicates a positive surprise, though it can be negative.
It can mean “wow” or “darn” depending on the context.
Caracoles literally means “snails” or “shells,” but when used as an interjection, it’s an expression of surprise like “gosh.”
45. Córcholis / Recórcholis
Córcholis and recórcholis denote surprise and sometimes annoyance or anger like the English phrases “gee whiz” and “good Lord.”
You may know it as a conjugation of the verb ir (to go), but as an interjection, it usually indicates surprise, like “wow.”
It can also mean “what a…” in phrases like “what a helpful word vaya is.”
To complicate things further, it can also mean “oh no.”
This is an important reminder to always pay attention to context.
47. Ave María
Ave María references the Virgin Mary, but it’s usually used to express excitement or stress, as is its sister phrase “Ave María purísima.”
Though technically part of a prayer, these phrases are now commonly used as interjections.
Why Learn Spanish Interjections?
Well. There are several reasons to learn interjections.
First, they’re key conversational tools. Whether you notice or not, you probably use several interjections in any conversation you have in English. You may even notice them liberally littered throughout this article. If you don’t also have these key tools in your Spanish vocabulary, your conversations will be sorely lacking.
Furthermore, they’re a quick and easy way to show emotions. One simple word or phrase can express an emotion that would normally take many more words to clarify. Take, for instance, the English-language interjection “Ugh.” It’s a much more concise way of expressing “I am not pleased with this.”
Finally, they’re fun. After all, you might not be up for a full-length conversation in Spanish, but shouting Spanish when you stubbed your toe seems much less intimidating. These interjections will add a lot of color to your daily vocabulary.
There are many exclamations and interjections in Spanish, and each Spanish-speaking region of the world will have different ones that they use most often.
You can delve into a great telenovela (full of emotional moments as we all know), or a video-based immersion program like FluentU to absorb how natives use exclamations and interjections.
Listen out for the above phrases and don’t be shy about adding them to your day-to-day use of Spanish.
Native speakers probably won’t even notice that you’re using them, but subconsciously they’ll use them to recognize that you’re a fluent Spanish speaker.
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)