It’s true that phrases are a big deal in all languages.
But when it comes to Spanish there’s something different that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s the humor or the way they’re so casually dropped into a conversation. It could also be their frequency of use.
They’re also culturally significant.
Phrases can be simple like ¿Cómo te va? (how’s it going?).
Or more playful such as the take on the classic phrase “haz el amor y no la guerra” (make love, not war) in the image above!
Who doesn’t love salsa, right?
But whatever it may be, learning Spanish phrases is the key to maintaining a native and fluent handle of the language.
Whether you’re a beginner learning introductory phrases or an advanced speaker practicing regional-specific idioms you’ll get something out of learning Spanish phrases.
So, with that being said.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about Spanish phrases.
What Are Spanish Phrases?
In its most basic form, a Spanish phrase carries the same definition as an English phrase. Essentially, a group of words that create a particular meaning.
I like to think of phrases as a group of words that paint a picture in your head.
This is different from singular words which are tools to form meaning when placed together.
In fact, you’ll often hear the words phrase and expression used interchangeably.
Phrases are also different from grammar which is the systems and rules of a language.
There are two things to keep in mind when it comes to using phrases.
1. A phrase is a general “umbrella” term for things like idioms, expressions, word groups etc. A phrase can also be a smaller part or a “fragment” of a whole sentence.
2. A phrase is sometimes made up of words that may have a different meaning than the individual words themselves. Some examples of these are idioms and phrasal verbs (which is a type of idiomatic phrase). This means that it may not always be possible to directly translate a phrase.
Why are these important to know?
If you want to be a skilled and confident Spanish speaker then it’s absolutely essential that you learn Spanish phrases.
In fact, I remember the first time I used a Spanish phrase.
I was making plans with my Spanish friend to go to the beach.
It was a beautiful sunny day on the coastline of northwest Spain and I suggested that we both go fishing and spend some time surfing to really enjoy the sun.
I then followed up my suggestion with a relatively simple phrase which in this case happens to be a popular idiom (in English and Spanish).
Podemos matar dos pájaros de un tiro (we can kill two birds with one shot). Meaning we can both surf and get some fishing in to truly make the most of the day.
My friend messaged me back with some words of encouragement.
Esos detalles son los que marcan la diferencia (those details are what make the difference).
He was referring to the idiom that I’d used and how they are so important when using Spanish. I felt great and what’s more, he was entirely correct.
Let’s look at some of the key reasons why phrases are so crucial below:
- use of single words or pieces of sentences lacks fluency
- phrases are used by native speakers all the time without even realizing
- phrases help with all types of language use from formal situations to casual discussions and small talk in Spanish
- phrases can help you learn vocabulary by putting words in context (in some cases)
- you’ll sound more native
- phrases allow you to be more specific with your speech
How to Learn and Practice Spanish Phrases
Just like vocabulary, Spanish phrases must be learned, practiced and put into context. I love to use Spanish phrases for all the reasons above.
That being said, due to the specific meaning of the phrases sometimes you must study them as a whole.
Learn entire phrases not just words
In whatever method you choose to learn the Spanish phrases it’s very important that you learn them within the entire context as a single conceptual unit. As previously mentioned, many phrases and expressions lack meaning or significance when broken down into specific words.
One way to practice is by writing out flashcards with phrases and placing their usage and meaning on the back. Another way to do study phrases as a whole is to create a “phrase table” in which you assign columns with the phrase, what the phrase describes and then any equivalent in your native language.
Watch lots of native content
Of course, one of the top ways to learn Spanish phrases is to learn them within their context!
If you don’t live in a Spanish-speaking region then not to worry, TV, film, YouTube and other video sources to the rescue.
Watching content comes with the added benefit of comprehensible input. This means that by seeing the interaction and behavior of the individuals on the screen you’ll be able to infer meaning from the context.
One of the top ways to study with heaps of great comprehensible input is with the FluentU Spanish learning system.
Use websites online
There are plenty of ways to practice Spanish online and add to your knowledge of expressions and phrases.
You can check out some language blogs such as the FluentU Spanish blog as well as online language chat rooms, blogs, game sites and more.
Download Spanish apps
Having a supercomputer in your pocket comes with some benefits! What about learning Spanish phrases in a natural way without even realizing it?
Along with the learning program you can also enjoy and maximize native content from the FluentU App.
You’ll be able to explore, learn and engage with all the different ways these wonderful expressions are used across the Spanish-speaking world from your device.
Chat with native speakers
One of the top ways to learn some of the more colorful and humorous Spanish phrases is to go for a drink with some Spanish-speaking friends! I can assure you that you’ll never be introduced to more Spanish expressions in succession than with this method.
Of course, this can also be done with an online exchange partner or a conversational exchange. As a special tip, if you’re starting with your Spanish learning journey then be sure to ask your speaking partner or friend for the meaning of expressions that they use.
Using phrases, expressions and idioms in your primary language is a very natural and innate compulsion.
You might find that you also use phrases and native sayings commonly without even realizing it!
Use images and memorization techniques
Like all phrases, Spanish expressions can be very unique. Wherever possible it can be a great strategy to use imagery and memorization techniques to help you remember Spanish phrases and their significance.
For example, if the phrase uses an animal or some other unique imagery then be sure to keep this in mind when trying to learn the phrase. For example, a common phrase in Spanish is coger el toro de los cuernos (to take the bull by the horns). This is a great phrase to remember because it exists in English and it’s also very vivid as you can imagine taking charge of a situation by grabbing a raging bull by the horns in a bullring.
Keep some language and vocabulary resources handy
Especially when considering travel but equally beneficial for the general learner are Spanish phrasebooks. This is due to the fact that they generally condense their content into the most usable and common language. This is because they’re designed for immediate use.
Another great and high-value approach is to find yourself a quality Spanish slang dictionary that also includes expressions and sayings.
With these two physical phrase learning tools, you’ll be able to take notes within the margins, leave little bookmarks and take them with you everywhere to make the most of every moment.
Spanish Phrases and Expressions You Must Master
To be a confident and skilled Spanish speaker it’s absolutely essential to have a varied and usable number of phrases at your disposal.
Here we’re going to break them down into relevant sections so that you may explore and add them to your own lists of phrases as you progress.
I often find Spanish phrases to be lots of fun and pretty memorable. They can also be hilarious and are really enjoyable to learn and put into practice in the real world.
The phrases below will all help you get by in Spanish and add heaps of color and life to your speaking skills!
Plus, no matter which level you’re at there will be something new to discover and add to your own phrase lists.
General Spanish phrases for each skill level
It’s always a solid strategy to have some handy phrases that are viable for a number of different skill levels.
These are the types of phrases that are commonly dropped into daily Spanish conversation with minimal thought. You’ll also be able to integrate these phrases into your study routine by focusing on phrases that are perfect for your level.
They’re outlined below in beginner, intermediate and advanced sections.
Beginner Spanish phrases to get you started
If you’re after some great beginner phrases then be sure to explore some of the most basic Spanish phrases.
These phrases are perfect for daily conversation and are a “must learn” for Spanish students. They’re especially useful to help you get started speaking Spanish in as short a time as possible and build a familiarity with the structure of Spanish.
Intermediate Spanish phrases to up your game
As you progress you can up your game with some intermediate-level Spanish phrases. You’ll find that some of these require a more advanced understanding of Spanish grammar and vocabulary.
Advanced Spanish phrases to speak like a native
With advanced Spanish phrases, you can add the final touches to your speaking arsenal and completely blow away your Spanish friends with your profound knowledge of Spanish culture and language. You’ll find many of these phrases are a “play on words” and expressions that are super cultural.
Common Spanish phrases for the everyday speaker
In addition to the above categories, you’ll also find some of the most common Spanish phrases that you can use in all types of social situations.
Whether you want to drop in some classic Spanish expressions or take it up a notch with some common Spanish slang all of the included expressions will help you navigate the sometimes rocky path to Spanish fluency.
A great way to stay on top of all these different phrases is to maintain a list of everyday Spanish phrases that you can reference and add to at any moment.
Let’s take a look at some additional Spanish phrases to skyrocket your Spanish-speaking skills!
Cool, cute and fun Spanish phrases
What are cool Spanish phrases you might ask? Well, they’re essentially slang and other informal expressions that are used in place of more formal or traditional forms of language. They’re great to know for traveling as well as meeting with Spanish-speaking friends.
Because let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be cool when speaking another language.
The same goes for cute Spanish phrases. These are the types of phrases that once learned, will completely transform your approach to Spanish speaking and the way that you’re understood by native Spanish speakers.
Of course, to really get the party started you’ll also want a couple of fun Spanish phrases that you can use to have a good laugh and enjoy your time with friends.
As a final note, don’t forget to have some Spanish jokes tucked away in your back pocket for when the moment calls!
Spanish phrases about time
You’ll find that many Spanish phrases about time are generally matched with the verb hacer (to do/make).
For a handy guide, be sure to check out all the different hacer time expressions and how they’re used by Spanish speakers every day.
Spanish phrases about love and romance
When it comes to love and romance there’s no shortage of Spanish phrases to choose from. Whether you’re searching for that special someone and in need of the perfect Spanish pick-up line or trying to charm with your best romantic Spanish phrases and vocabulary you’ll find heaps of great options in Spanish.
Just be sure to practice your pronunciation and double-check the meaning! You don’t want to be left red-faced.
Spanish phrases about travel
If you love to travel and explore different cultures then there’s a fair chance that you may end up in a Spanish-speaking country! This is because Spanish is the second most spoken global language in terms of native speakers.
So, why not add a couple of useful Spanish travel phrases and words to help you on your journey?
Another great approach if you want to learn Spanish phrases is to choose a specific country or region and learn some key phrases from that location. For example, if you want to really stand out for super Spanish skills in Mexico then you can focus on Mexican expressions.
Impersonal expressions and expressions with tener
You’ll also find some expressions and phrases that are perhaps slightly more technical and require knowledge of a particular word.
For example, there are several Spanish expressions with the verb tener (to have).
You’ll also want to check out some common Spanish impersonal expressions.
Spanish Idioms, Proverbs and Sayings for Sounding Like a Native
As previously discussed, you might find that some phrases don’t necessarily have a direct translation or meaning when broken down into smaller segments or when translated word for word.
Some of the clearest examples of these are idioms and sayings which are types of phrases that we’ll explore below. Some of them are very unique while others are almost the same or very similar to an English equivalent.
In fact, you can get started with these basic Spanish sayings about life. These sayings also have an English translation to help ease you in!
It’s also a great starting place to consider some general Spanish sayings that’ll earn you heaps of cred with native speakers!
Spanish proverbs about love
Similar to the phrases above you’ll also find heaps of heartfelt and meaningful Spanish proverbs about love that allow you to let that special someone know exactly how you feel about them!
Spanish proverbs for a deep thinker
Do you ever find yourself philosophizing about life and the world around you? Then you’ll love some of these great Spanish proverbs. With these stunning proverbs, you can ponder life, love and all the things that make life worth living such as learning languages!
Plus, I think these proverbs sound super cool when dropped into a casual conversation!
Common Spanish sayings and famous proverbs
On the one hand, you might discover that Spanish phrases are quite regional and will depend on where you are and who you’re talking to.
That’s why it can also be a great strategy to build some knowledge of the most common Spanish sayings.
On the other hand, due to cultural phenomena such as literature and music you might also discover that some of the most famous Spanish proverbs are fairly universal across the Spanish-speaking world. Or there might be many similarities with only slight variations.
When learning Spanish phrases you can make a note about the usage of the particular phrase and its general relevance.
Funny Spanish sayings
Having some funny Spanish sayings in your arsenal is a great way to leave a lasting impression on your Spanish friends. I truly believe that being funny in another language is a great sign of fluency and phrases are a simple and effective way of showcasing your humor in Spanish.
Beautiful Mexican proverbs
As previously mentioned, it can also be a great strategy to learn regional-specific phrases. Check out some of these stunning Mexican proverbs to really instill a sense of passion and meaning into your Spanish learning.
Take Your Spanish to the Next Level with Some Super Slang
The importance of learning Spanish slang cannot be understated. Each differing Spanish-speaking country maintains a proud and widespread lexicon of slang vocabulary. I’d go far as saying that if you want to learn how to speak Spanish then you must also learn Spanish slang.
When learning slang you’re giving yourself one of the most beneficial and usable tools in the Spanish language.
You’re also showcasing your deep knowledge and appreciation for the language.
It’s a reflection of your hard work and passion for the Spanish language.
It’s also certainly appreciated by native speakers and a top way to make friends with locals!
The difference between all of the varying slang styles across the Spanish-speaking world can get confusing! It’s equally important to focus on Spanish slang that’s actually used daily by Spanish speakers.
This’ll help streamline the process for you! As I live in Spain, my focus is on Spanish slang and phrases.
However, depending on your own experience with the language and the particular style of Spanish that you’re learning you may want to focus on a different region.
Let’s check them out below!
Plus many others!
Similar to phrases, slang is commonly used by native speakers very naturally. That’s why it’s important to make yourself aware of some of the key slang words and phrases. As a special tip to never be afraid to ask questions as people across the world love to teach others their slang.
Rember that Spanish phrases can make a big difference to your Spanish-speaking fluency and the way that you interact with other Spanish speakers across the world.
Don’t forget to keep a big notebook handy with all of your top Spanish phrases to take on the Spanish world. What are some of your favorite Spanish-speaking phrases and why?
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