The 7 Spanish Question Words & How to Use Them

spanish question wordsReady to learn the question words in Spanish? One of the best ways to advance your Spanish skills is to converse with fluent or native speakers. But how do you break the ice? 

Start by mastering the new vocabulary in this guide, and then practice some of the most commonly asked questions.

People love being asked questions! It shows you’re interested in their opinions and experiences.

After reading this article, you’ll feel more comfortable meeting new people and making friends in Spanish. 

The 7 Spanish Question Words

Let’s go over some of the most important question words in Spanish. Memorize this vocabulary so you can be ready to strike up a conversation when the opportunity arises!

1. ¿Cómo?

Cómo literally translates to “how,” but it can also mean “what” when used in isolation. You should also know that como – without the accent over the O – means “like” or “I eat.”

This is a lot of different meanings, so be sure to pay attention to the context of the conversation for clues to the word’s definition. Here are some common questions you might ask using cómo:

  • ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)
  • ¿Cómo te sientes? (How are you feeling?)
  • ¿Cómo te fue? (How did it go?)
  • ¿Cómo lo hiciste? (How did you do that?)

If you look closely at the sentence structure of these questions, you’ll see that in Spanish, you don’t need to add a word for “do.” For example, “How do you make that?” would literally be translated into Spanish as: ¿Cómo lo haces? (How you make that?).

It sounds funny when translated literally, doesn’t it? This is one example of a basic language translation fact: we translate ideas, not words.

2. ¿Quién?

Quién means “who” in English. When using it in writing, remember to apply the accent mark over the E. A few common questions using the word quién are:

  • ¿Quién es? (Who is it?) Note: Use when answering a phone or door.
  • ¿Quién sabe? (Who knows?)
  • ¿Quién es? (Who is that?)
  • ¿Quiénes son? (Who are they?)
  • ¿Con quién vas? (Who are you going with?)

As you can see in the last example, sentences in Spanish often begin with the word con, meaning “with.” This is a key difference from English, where sentences and questions rarely start with the word “with.” You wouldn’t say, “With whom are you going?”

Another thing you’ll notice is that when quién is used plurally, referring to more than one person, it becomes quiénes.

3. ¿Qué?

Qué means “what.” Like with quién, remember to apply an accent mark over the E. This is important because without the accent over the E, que means “that.” Here are some questions you’ll use regularly with the word qué:

  • ¿Qué es? (What is it?) 
  • ¿Qué significa? (What does that mean?)
  • ¿Qué hiciste? (What did you do?)
  • ¿Qué? (What?)

Be aware that when used in isolation, “¿Cómo?” means the same thing as “¿Qué?”  You’ll hear Spanish speakers using both of these phrases.

4. ¿Dónde?

Dónde means “where.” Just like the other Spanish question words, remember to apply the necessary accent mark. Common questions with dónde include:

  • ¿A dónde vas? (Where are you going?) Note: “A” means “to.”
  • ¿Dónde está? (Where is it?)
  • ¿Dónde vives? (Where do you live?)
  • ¿De dónde eres? (Where are you from?)

In the last example sentence, De means “of,” so the question literally  translates to: “Of where are you?”

5. ¿Cuándo?

Cuándo means “when.” Remember to apply the accent mark over the A. Here are some questions you’ll hear frequently using this question word:

  • ¿Cuándo es? (When is it?) Note: Use for social events or appointments.
  • ¿Cuándo vienes? (When are you coming?)
  • ¿Cuándo nos vemos? (When will we see each other?)
  • ¿Cuándo es la junta? (When is the meeting?)

Sentence structure for questions isn’t too different from English. The basic structure for all of these starts with the question word and is followed by the conjugated verb in the appropriate tense.

6. ¿Cuál?

Cuál means “which,” and as you can see, it also requires an accent mark over the vowel. Practice these sentences using the word cuál:

  • ¿Cuál es tu nombre? (What is your name?)
  • ¿Cuál es tu favorito? (What’s your favorite?)
  • ¿Cuál escoges? (Which do you choose?)
  • ¿Cuáles son tuyos? (Which are yours?)

Remember how quién became quiénes? You’ll also notice that when cuál is used in the plural form, it becomes cuáles.

In the first two examples, take note that Spanish uses the word for “which,” rather than “what” as we’re used to in English.

7. ¿Por qué?

Por qué means “why,” but be careful! It can also mean “because” when there’s no space between the words and no accent mark present. Here are a few questions you can ask using por qué:

  • ¿Por qué hiciste esto? (Why did you do that?)
  • ¿Por qué llegaste tarde? (Why are you late?)
  • ¿Por qué no te sientes bien? (Why don’t you feel good?)
  • ¿Por qué no está Juan? (Why isn’t John here?)

It’s vital to learn these seven words, because you can’t ask questions in Spanish without them! Study these essential Spanish question words to really take your conversation skills to the next level.

Need more help forming questions in Spanish? Check out the video below from one of our online Spanish classes.

You can also take private lessons with a Spanish teacher, online or locally. You’ll get hands-on instruction and instant feedback on your grammar and pronunciation. Buena suerte!

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Spanish adjectives personality

46 Spanish Adjectives to Describe All Your Friends [Printable List]

Spanish adjectives list

Spanish adjectives are crucial to learn and memorize if you want to be fluent in Spanish. Spanish adjectives will help you describe places, things, and especially – people!

If you’re learning Spanish, you might already know a few basic nouns and verbs to carry on a conversation. Now is the perfect time to start learning some extra, descriptive words! There will be many times in conversation when you’re looking for just the right word to describe a quality or trait, and our Spanish adjectives list is sure to come in handy for each of them.

In this post, we’ll share how to use 46 of the most common Spanish adjectives. (You’ll also be able to download a free worksheet to practice all the new vocabulary you’ve learned at the end!)

How to Use Spanish Adjectives

There are a few ways to form sentences with Spanish adjectives. Here are some examples to get you started.

  • Juan es muy mentiroso. Siempre dice cosas que no son verdad.
  • Mis padres tienen un carácter fuerte, pero son muy amables.
  • Tengo mucho sentido del humor y por eso soy gracioso.

In most cases though, you’ll use the verb ser in combination with an adjective. For example:

  • Ella es simpática.
  • Ellos son graciosos.
  • Nosotros somos organizados.

Learning how to conjugate the verb ser will be a huge help when it comes to using adjectives properly. Now, are you ready to learn some new words? Here are 46 Spanish adjectives that will help you describe yourself, your friends, and your family. (Some of these words can also be used to describe places and things).

The Ultimate Spanish Adjectives List

46 Spanish Adjectives List to Describe Personality

Additional Practice with Spanish Adjectives

Want even more practice? You can download a free worksheet here to review the vocabulary above and practice forming sentences. You can also check out these additional resources to help you learn more about Spanish vocabulary and grammar:

We hope you enjoyed this guest post by Sara from Spanish2Learn. Can you think of any more unique Spanish adjectives to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

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Video Lesson: 13 Easy Spanish Words and Phrases for Kids

13 Easy Spanish Words and Phrases for Kids

Ready to help your son or daughter learn Spanish? There’s a lot of research about how learning languages is easiest for kids, so it’s the perfect time to teach him or her a few easy Spanish words.

And if you don’t speak the language yourself, don’t worry. There are so many great learning resources available online, many of which are free. In the video below, tutor Rosita R. shares several easy Spanish words and phrases that are perfect to learn together!

Plus, see even more Spanish vocabulary for kids here.

  • Buenos dias – Good morning
  • Buenas tardes – Good afternoon
  • Buenas noches – Good evening / Good night
  • Como se llama usted? / What is your name?
  • Me llamo… / My name is…
  • Mucho gusto / Nice to meet you
  • Como esta usted? / How are you?
  • Estoy bien, gracias / I’m fine, thank you
  • Con permiso / Excuse me
  • Perdóname / Excuse me, sorry
  • Por favor / Please
  • Gracias / Thank you
  • De nada / You’re welcome

Want to learn more? See even more easy Spanish words for kids here, or check out our live online Spanish classes! Kids will learn vocab, conversational phrases, and much more in a fun group setting.

AndyWFeatured Instructor: Rosita R.
Rosita teaches Spanish, singing, and many other subjects in Los Angeles, CA, as well as online. Rosita also teaches several online group classes, including Spanish for Kids. Learn more about Rosita here!

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50 Beautiful Spanish Words For an Instant Mood Boost

There are so many cool Spanish words to choose from, that it’s hard to narrow it down to just 50! Spanish is a beautiful language, and as you listen to native speakers, you’ll notice how elegant it can sound.

Scientists have even deemed it the happiest language, too!

Not only is Spanish a cool language, but it also has a logical structure. Pair that with the many Spanish-English cognates, and you can see why it’s one of the most popular languages to learn.

As you learn Spanish, you’ll come across many words that stand out – whether for the melodic way they roll off your tongue, or their meaning. Check out the infographic below for some of our favorite, beautiful Spanish words!

50 Beautiful Spanish Words

50 Beautiful Spanish Words

1. bonita: pretty (adjective)
2. precioso: precious/beautiful (adjective)
3. señorita: young lady (noun)
4. guapo: handsome (adjective)
5. rosado: pink (adjective)
6. amor: love (noun)
7. encantar: to enchant (verb)
8. desear: to wish (verb)
9. sonreîr: to smile (verb)
10. bailar: to dance (verb)
11. cantar: to sing (verb)
12. beso: kiss (noun)
13. vivir: to live (verb)
14. abrazo: hug (noun)
15. novia/novia: boyfriend/girlfriend ( noun)
16. contigo: with you (pronoun)
17. palabra: word (noun)
18. chocolate: chocolate (noun)
19. café: brown (adjective)/ coffee (noun)
20. naranja: orange (noun)
21. dulce: sweet (adjective)
22. ángel: angel (noun)
23. fuego: fire (noun)
24. cielo: sky (noun)
25. zapatos: shoes (noun)
26. corazon: heart (noun)
27. estrella: star (noun)
28. noche: night (noun)
29. caliente: hot (adjective)
30. rica: rich/delicious (adjective)
31. dinero: money (noun)
32. serenidad: serenity (noun)
33. mariposa: butterfly (noun)
34. fuerte: strong (adjective)
35. siempre: always (adverb)
36. seda: silk (noun)
37. favorito: favorite (adjective)
38. mañana: tomorrow (adverb)
39. bienvenido: welcome (adjective)
40. sol: sun (noun)
41. montaña: mountain (noun)
42. azúcar: sugar (noun)
43. mirar: to look (verb)
44. fruta: fruit (noun)
45. medianoche: midnight (noun)
46. luz: light (noun)
47. diamante: diamond (noun)
48. flor: flower (noun)
49. mar: sea (noun)
50. helado: ice cream (noun)

SEE ALSO: An Introduction to Spanish Culture

How to Use These Cool Spanish Words

Want to start memorizing these cool Spanish words? Here are some additional tips to keep in mind as you study these fun vocabulary words.

  • Categorize the words. Try grouping words together based on their similarities. For instance, each of these pretty Spanish words is related to showing affection – besos (kisses), abrazo (hug), and amor (love). Create multiple lists with different categories to study.
  • Try forming sentences. When you create your own sentences, it’s easier to remember the definitions of the words because of the relevant context. Try writing a few sentences down with some of the words we listed above.
  • Post them around your house. Labeling items around the house is a great way to learn new words. You can label the chairs, refrigerator, doors, etc. with their corresponding Spanish word.
  • Play vocabulary games. There are plenty of Spanish websites with free games to check out. You can also purchase apps, or make DIY games such as Bingo and charades.

Good luck studying these beautiful Spanish words, and have fun along the way!

Readers, what other cool Spanish words would you add to this list? Leave a comment and let us know.

Breeana D.Post Author: Breeana D.
Breeana teaches Spanish lessons in Willow Grove, PA. Specializing in Early Childhood and Special Education, she also has a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. Learn more about Breeana here!

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25 MORE Spanish Writing Prompts for Beginners

25 MORE Spanish Writing Prompts for Beginners

A while back, Spanish tutor Joan B. shared a list of easy writing prompts for practicing Spanish. Readers loved these, so we’re back with even MORE Spanish writing prompts to try! 


Writing in Spanish is not only an essential skill on its own; practicing writing will also improve your vocabulary, increase your understanding of grammar concepts, and enhance your communication skills both in written and spoken forms.

The following are 25 Spanish writing prompts that will stimulate your imagination, stretch your abilities and, most importantly, help you to become a powerful and persuasive writer in Spanish. Tackle a writing prompt regularly (like once a day, or once a week) and you’ll soon find yourself writing persuasively with very little effort!

1. Describe a time when you had an argument with someone, and how you resolved it. This is a chance to describe a sequence of events or statements using the preterite tense (“El dijo…y entonces yo le dije…”), as well as the expressions (“No estar de acuerdo” and “Hacer las paces“).

2. Write a ‘tall tale’. Describe an outlandish event in as much detail as possible. Use this as a chance to practice narrative writing and use a variety of descriptive adjectives and phrases. The more out there, the better!

3. Explain what you do to conserve, recycle, reduce, and reuse. Green living is a hot topic today, and the words associated with it (conservar, reciclar, reducir, reusar) include useful Spanish vocabulary for daily living.

4. What is your favorite Spanish or Latin dish? Is it paella, pollo asado, or tamales? Whatever it is, write out the ingredients and process for making it, in the form of a recipe. You can look up a recipe in English for inspiration if you’re not sure how to make it.

5. In your opinion, what is the worst environmental problem facing us today, and what can be done to improve the issue? Take this opportunity to learn issue-specific vocabulary (for example, for global warming, you could use el calentamiento global) as well the subjunctive when expressing certain views (“Espero que…“).

6. Write a letter to the editor about a local community issue you feel strongly about. This prompt will challenge you to use formal, polite, and print-worthy grammar and syntax, as well as develop your own personal voice in Spanish.

7. You’ve decided to apply for a job where you’ll use your Spanish-speaking skills. Write a paragraph or essay in Spanish detailing your knowledge, experience, and study in the language. This can include descriptions of trips to Spanish-speaking places, formal study, the types of Spanish classes you’ve taken and concepts learned (“Sé explicar bien mis opiniones.“), and how long you’ve studied (“Comencé a estudiar en la escuela secundaria, y después assistí a la universidad.“). Not only is this great practice, it’s good to have on hand just in case you do need to document your Spanish knowledge, in short order!

8. Your roommate or neighbor has a very annoying habit and you’ve finally decided you can’t take it any longer. Instead of telling him or her directly, write a letter using a variety of formal commands and subjunctive structures (“¡Cámbialo!” or “Sugiero que…“).

9. You’ve met someone who’s about to start studying Spanish. What advice would you give him or her to succeed? This is a great opportunity to give advice (dar consejos) and even include a proverb or two (“La práctica hace al maestro.“).

10. You’re planning to travel to a Spanish-speaking country. Describe what you hope your daily routine will be. Practice using sequencing words (antes, después, entonces), reflexive verbs (relajarse, divertirse, etc.) and expressions for activities (ir al concierto, visitar un museo, dar un paseo por la ciudad).

11. If you could have any type of pet, which would you choose, and why? Talk about how you would take care of your pet and what activities you could do together. You can use hypothetical phrases (“Si pudiera tener una mascota, tendría un perro e iría al parque con él“).

12. Describe the members of your household and who is responsible for what duties around the house. The expressions you use are essential phrases for travel and daily life — it’s important to know how to say cambiar las sábanas (change the sheets) and lavar la ropa (wash the clothes)!

13. Prepare a short comedy act. Choose an event that has comedic potential and make light of it in a humorous way. Try to contar un chiste (tell a joke), which is challenging to do in Spanish as a second-language speaker. You can even ask a native Spanish speaker for help with tackling this prompt.

14. Describe your route to work or school. What mode of transportation do you use, which way do you go, and what are the pros and cons of your particular route and way? This is another practical writing prompt to exercise your ability to describe modes of transportations, routes, and transportation directions (“Primero, tomo el autobús número…“; “Evito el tráfico de las 5 por tomar una ruta alternativa…“).

15. Respond to a letter or other communication you’ve received from someone telling you about their news and activities. Even though they probably wrote to you in English, draft a response to them in Spanish, detailing your own news and activities and commenting on theirs. You can also draft a response to an imaginary letter in Spanish if you prefer. Explain what you’ve been habitually doing (“En estos días, estudio mucho…“) and retell specific events that have occurred (“Ayer recibí una buena nota.”). This is a good time to practice choosing between the imperfect tense and preterite tense for past events.

16. Invent a fairy tale in Spanish. You can begin with the words “Había una vez…” (once upon a time…) and let your imagination take it from there. You can write a fairy tale you’re familiar with, or create a new one. This Spanish writing prompt is good practice for perfecting the imperfect and preterite tense, as well as refining your descriptive writing abilities in Spanish, since fairy tales often involve vivid description of interesting characters.

17. Write a letter to a world leader whose policy actions you’re familiar with. Commend him or her on the actions you agree with, and explain why you agree. Offer criticism of those actions you disapprove, along with suggestions for alternative action to be taken. Use the comparative and superlative in your letter (“Esta acción es tan buena como lo que hizo“); you may also find use for the subjunctive (“Es mejor que resuelva el problema de…“).

18. If you could live in any country for an extended period of time, which country would you choose and why? Explain what traditions, customs, cultural practices and daily living styles appeal to you, and what you would do there. This is a chance to use the imperfect subjunctive and the conditional in a common and useful structure (“Si pudiera vivir en algún país, viviría en…“).

19. In your opinion, what was the most important world event of the past year? Describe the event itself, using the appropriate tense (imperfect or preterite). You may also find a use for the past progressive (“Mientras el gobierno estaba estabilizando, el presidente se murió.”). Try to use a mix of objective factual statements, as well as more subjective statements that reflect your opinion about the event.

20. Spanish is fast-becoming the lingua franca (a language that is used among people who speak various different languages) of the United States. What are the benefits and disadvantages of this, from an economic and cultural standpoint? Useful phrases for this prompt include “Por un lado…y por otro lado…” and “Pienso que…“.

21. Why do you study Spanish? What do you hope to gain from the language? Are your reasons primarily linguistic, cultural, economic, or something else? Explain what attracts you to the language, and the level you aim to reach. Also express how you feel using verbs such as “sentirse” and “me parece que…“.

22. You have the opportunity to live with a family in a Spanish-speaking country as part of a study abroad program. Write a letter to the family, introducing yourself. Tell them essential information, as well as some fun and interesting facts about you so they can start to get to know you. Use an informal yet polite tone. You can also include what you hope to gain by living with them by using polite requests (“Me gustaría si pudiéramos hablar en español casi todo el tiempo.“; “¿Sería posible hacer actividades todos juntos?“).

23. What do you like to do in your free time? Describe the activities you do, when you usually do them, and with whom. You can begin with “En mi tiempo libre…“. Use this prompt as a chance to expand and memorize Spanish vocabulary — you might learn new expressions as you describe your activities in Spanish.

24. What is your astrological sign? Do you believe in astrological signs? Why or why not? Do you think you fit the typical profile for someone of your sign? You might want to use expressions like aunque (although) and sin embargo (nevertheless).

25. You’re going to host two Spanish-speaking exchange students. Write them a letter telling them about any customs they should be familiar with, as well as the daily schedule they will follow. You can describe your daily school or work schedule, as well as the times that activities occur. You can also remind them of specific items they might want to bring from home.


If you work through (ahem, write through!) these 25 Spanish writing prompts, you’ll be well-versed in a variety of topics, registers of written Spanish, and typical structures and expressions to express your ideas concisely and clearly.

You can also take your completed prompts to your teacher or tutor for further feedback, or simply re-read them and edit them on your own, over time. Enjoy, and continue working toward the level you wish to reach in Spanish!

Joan BPost Author: Joan B.
Joan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. A lover of language, she’s studied French, Arabic, and Italian and spent time living in Spain. Joan aims to help students improve on tests and increase their conversational ability when traveling to Spanish-speaking countries. Learn more about Joan here!

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50 Fascinating Facts About the Spanish Language [Infographic]

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Calling all linguaphiles, trivia buffs, students, teachers, and world travelers — you probably already know that a country’s language carries many clues about its history, culture, and values. Understanding the intricacies can often make it easier to learn a language, also, since you’ll likely recognize patterns, or how certain language relate to each other.

The Spanish language in particular is really cool to learn about, as you’ll see in this post! We got help from our tutors to compile a list of a whopping 50 interesting facts about the language of Spain, as a way to test your own knowledge.

But first, a few FAQs you should definitely know…

Where is Spanish used?

When you think about Spanish speakers, you likely think about Spain and Mexico. But actually, Spanish is the offical language for more than 20 countries — including Cuba, Argentina, Chile, and Nicaragua.

It’s also worth noting that it’s not the ONLY language spoken in Spain. Other official languages of Spain are Galician, Basque, and Catalan.

Who else speaks Spanish?

It’s no wonder that many students, business professionals, and travelers choose to learn Spanish — it’s estimated that almost 400 million people worldwide speak the language! Moreover, being bilingual has tons of benefits.

Not only that, but it’s becoming one of the most widely-spoken second languages in the world.

Ok, now test your knowledge!

The infographic below showcases the most interesting facts we found. See how many of them you already know, and then scroll down to learn even more about the Spanish language!

Interesting Facts About the Language of Spain - infographic

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Interesting Facts - Spanish Grammar and Syntax

Spanish Grammar & Syntax

  1. If taken literally, the word la persona (person) is feminine, even though it may refer to a man or a woman.[1]
  2. Nouns that end in -a are usually feminine, but if they start with an a, they take the masculine article el to avoid the combination of the two same vowels (i.e. Spanish speakers say el alma instead of la alma). Still, the word remains being feminine.[2]
  3. Many words have completely different meanings depending on what syllable is stressed. For example, la ma (stressed on the second syllable: the mother), la mama (stressed on the first syllable: the breast).
  4. Spanish has two different verbs that mean “to be” in English: ser and estar. The first one is for permanent states (such as personality features of a person; Yo soy alto [I am tall]) and the second one is for temporary states (such as the location of something; Yo estoy en casa [I am at home]).
  5. Even though nouns ending in -o are usually masculine, la mano is a feminine word.
  6. Many nouns are spelled the same but change meanings if they’re used with a different grammatical gender. For example, el cometa (the comet) and la cometa (the kite); el cura (the Catholic priest) and la cura (the cure); el pendiente (the earring) and la pendiente (the slope).[3]
  7. Different from English, Spanish has a relatively free word order, and variations of the Subject-Verb-Object order occur much more often than in English. For example, the sentence “Juan wrote a book” can be said like “Juan escribió el libro,” “El libro escribió Juan,” “Escribió Juan el libro,” and even “Juan el libro escribió,” or “El libro, Juan escribió” for some literary effect.[4]
  8. In most parts of the Spanish-speaking world, there’s a familiar-informal 2nd person singular pronoun (usually ) and a formal 2nd person singular pronoun for unknown, older, or important people (usted).
  9. In the Rioplatense variety, the pronoun is never used; vos is used instead as the informal-familiar 2nd person singular. In some other countries, such as Ecuador, both and vos coexist, but the second one has a social connotation and is considered a highly uneducated (and even lowly) way of addressing others.[5]
  10. Exclamations and questions in Spanish need to begin with an “opening” exclamation mark (¡) or question mark (¿). These punctuation marks do not exist in other languages, except some minority languages in Spain.
  11. Considering the three moods (Indicative, Subjunctive, and Imperative), there are 17 tenses in Spanish.[6]
  12. Spanish has two different versions of the imperfect subjunctive that coexist in modern Spanish (Pretérito Imperfecto del subjuntivo), one with -ra endings and one with -se. Most native speakers use either form interchangeably. For instance, the words amara or amase ([if I] loved).

Interesting Facts - Spanish Pronunciation

Spanish Pronunciation

  1. Spanish is a very phonetic language. If you know how a word is spelled, you can surely know how it’s pronounced.
  2. If you know how a word is pronounced, you cannot be sure of how it’s spelled.
  3. Letters b and v sound the same in Standard Modern Spanish (this simplification took place between the 15th and 17th century). Between vowel sounds, they’re pronounced like a soft b, in which the lips don’t touch. This last sound doesn’t exist in English.[7]
  4. Until the early 18th century, the letter x was used to represent the x sound, like the Scottish word “loch.” After that, it was replaced with the letter j to represent the same sound. For example, the word caja (box) used to be spelled like caxa.[8]
  5. The letter c, when it appears before the letters e and i, is pronounced differently by speakers in Latin America and Spain. The former pronounce it like an s, whereas the latter pronounce it like th in “the.”
  6. There are plenty of homophones (words that sound the same but are spelled differently) in Spanish that cause native speakers difficulties in learning how to write. Popular examples are hacia (towards) and Asia (Asia), and hola (hello) and ola (wave).
  7. Even though the letters y and ll sound slightly different in most parts of Spain and Latin America, in Rioplatense Spanish, the variety spoken in the most populated areas of Argentina and Uruguay sound like “sh” in English. For example, baya (berry) and valla (fence) sound like bah-shah.
  8. Despite being one of the most common words in the language, the word yo (I) can be pronounced in at least four different ways depending on the location of the speaker.
  9. The letter y can behave as a consonant at the beginning of syllables (onset), or as a vowel at the ending of syllables (nucleus). For example, yo (y is a consonant), hoy (y has a vowel sound).[9]

Interesting Facts - Spanish Vocabulary

Spanish Vocabulary

  1. There are words in Spanish that cannot be translated in one word in English. An example is empalagarse (to feel sick because of too much sweetness in food, but also figuratively, as in romantic situations).[10]
  2. Another word that cannot be translated in one word is sobremesa (after-dinner conversation).[11]
  3. Around 8% of Spanish vocabulary is of Arabic origin.[12] Within numerous expressions of casual Spanish conversation, there often exists a strong likeness to Arabic expression. Probably most well-known is the interjection ¡Ojalá!, which is derived from the phrase law šá lláh, meaning “if Allah wills [it].”[13]
  4. There are 30,500 words that contain all of the vowels (a, e, i, o, u).[14]
  5. New verbs can be easily created by adding the suffix -ear at the end of the words. This is how modern technology-related words have been invented from English words; for example, escanear (to scan)[15] and tuitear (to send tweets).[16]
  6. A very common phrase in Spanish that’s literally translated into “holding someone’s hair” (tomarle el pelo a alguien) means to mock someone with false compliments or promises.[17]
  7. In Argentina, there’s a group of slang words called vesre. They come from the Spanish word for “reverse” (revés) after moving around a few letters. Just as the word vesre, other words are made by switching around letters. These words are now so common in Argentina that they may be used more than the “real” word. For example, garpar (Standard Spanish: pagar, English: to pay) or toga (Standard Spanish: gato, English: cat).[18]
  8. Many English words have been adapted to Spanish in the 20th century and have become everyday vocabulary. For instance, fútbol (football), suéter (sweater), pulover (pullover), and overol (overall).[19]
  9. There are two phrases in Spanish that can be translated to “I love you”: Te amo and te quiero. The first one is said between lovers or closely-related family members. The second one is mostly friendly and typically not romantic.
  10. There isn’t a verb in Spanish that can be literally translated to “like.” Me gusta la pizza can be literally translated to the approximation: “The pizza is pleasing to me.”
  11. English and Spanish share plenty of similarly-written words that don’t mean the same. They’re called “false friends” and learners of Spanish should be aware of them to avoid difficulties. For example, embarazada means “pregnant” in English and not “embarrassed.”

Interesting Facts - Spanish Culture and History

The Language of Spain – Culture and History

  1. Spanish is the 2nd most-spoken language as mother tongue. The number of speakers of Spanish as a first language is almost 399 million.[20] The language with the highest number of native speakers is Chinese with 1.2 billion people.[21]
  2. Spanish is the 3rd most-used language on the Internet, with 256.8 million users.[22]
  3. The use of Spanish on the Internet has grown 1,312.4% from 2000 to 2015.[23]
  4. Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.[24]
  5. Spanish is the official language in 22 countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela.[25]
  6. Spanish is expected to be the first language of 50% of the population of the United States within 50 years.[26]
  7. There’s a Spanish-based creole language spoken in the Philippines called Chabacano (poor taste, vulgar). It’s the sole and most extensive Spanish-based creole language that still exists in Asia or Oceania.[27]
  8. Based on estimates from Census data, the Hispanic population in the US will grow to 132.8 million in 2050.
  9. People who speak Spanish may call it español (meaning: it comes from Spain), or castellano (meaning: it comes from Castilla, Spain), and many people use both words interchangeably.[29]
  10. In 1492, the same year when Columbus arrived in America, the first grammar of Spanish was published by Elio Antonio de Nebrija.[30]
  11. Spanish was the major diplomatic language until the 18th century.[31]
  12. In 1713, the Real Academia Española was founded. It established authoritative criteria for the sanctioning of neologisms (newly coined words) and the incorporation of international words. Spanish grammar was formalized during this period.[32]
  13. In present-day Spanish, September may be spelled septiembre or setiembre. However, the latter is considered a vulgar or informal version of the earlier one because of the dropping of sounds. Contrary to popular belief, the word setiembre is the “originally Spanish” word, since until the 17th century there was no agreement in spelling and the “p” was not pronounced.[33]
  14. Some words that begin with “f” in other Romance languages, begin with “h” in Spanish. This makes such difference a unique development for the Spanish language. For example, ferrum (Latin: iron) and hierro (Spanish: iron); falar (Portuguese: to speak) and hablar (Spanish: to speak); figlio and fumo (Italian: son and smoke) and hijo and humo (Spanish: son and smoke).[34]
  15. The letter ñ is the only Spanish letter of Spanish origins.[35]
  16. Beginning in about the 12th century, Spanish scribes (whose job it was to copy documents by hand) used the tilde placed over letters to indicate that a letter was doubled. This resulted in the Latin word annus to be spelled año in Spanish.[36]
  17. The first written records in Spanish are the Glosas Emilianenses and they date back to 964 A.C.[37]
  18. The first Literary piece that was fully written in Spanish was “El Cantar de Mio Cid,” which dates back to the 13th century and whose author is unknown.[38]


[7] Lapesa, R. (1981). Historia de la lengua española (9th ed.). Madrid: Gredos. pp. 422.
[8] Lapesa, R. (1981). Historia de la lengua española (9th ed.). Madrid: Gredos. pp. 423.
[19] Lapesa, R. (1981). Historia de la lengua española (9th ed.). Madrid: Gredos. pp. 458.
[33] Lapesa, R. (1981). Historia de la lengua española (9th ed.). Madrid: Gredos. pp. 390.

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tricky Spanish words and meanings

Yikes! Don’t Confuse These 7 Tricky Spanish Words

tricky Spanish words and meanings

As a beginner learning Spanish, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by new vocabulary. How do you keep track of all of the Spanish words and meanings? Not to mention all the false cognates that are out there!

Fortunately, with practice, Spanish words and phrases will become like second nature to you. Just watch out for the tricky word pairs! For a helpful lesson, our friends at Lingolistic recently shared an article with us with some words that are particularly confusing for beginners. Here are a few of them:

Vaya, valla

  • Vaya: to indicate surprise, either for a bad or a good reason. It also works as the verb “to go,” which is where most people make mistakes. Example: “¡Vaya noche, me lo he pasado genial!” (What a night, I had a wonderful time!).
  • Valla: it sounds the same, but it means “fence.” Example: “Ayer pinté la valla de verde” (I painted the fence green yesterday). So remember: vaya for the verb, valla for the object.

Haber, a ver

Although the difference is quite big, people tend to make this mistake very, very frequently since both sound the same.

  • Haber: the verb to indicate “there is” or “there are.” Example: “Hay un coche estropeado” (There is a broken car there).
  • A ver: the meaning is “let’s see,” but people usually use the previous verb (haber) instead. Example: “A ver, qué comemos hoy” (Let’s see, what do we have for lunch).

Ay, hay, ahí

If you’re a Spanish learner, this might be a headache, but don’t worry, there is a sentence to make it clearer: “Ahí hay un hombre que dice ¡ay!” (Over there, there is a man saying ouch!).

  • Ahí: “there, over there”
  • Hay: the verb “haber” in present tense, “there is/are”
  • Ay: a moan, “ouch”

Continue reading the article here, and make sure to check out the other resources Lingolistic has available for Spanish learners!

Readers, what other word pairs do you get confused? Ser vs. estar is another one our tutors have pointed out. Let us know what Spanish words and meanings you struggle with by leaving a comment below! 

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Spanish Vocabulary- 61 Words & Phrases for Daily Activities (1)

Spanish Vocabulary: Phrases for Daily Activities

common phrases in Spanish - daily activities

When you’re learning a new language, using basic vocabulary throughout your day is a great way to make progress. Especially if you’re teaching Spanish to kids, common phrases and words are easy to learn and easy to incorporate into your daily activities, from the moment you wake up (Buenos días) to getting ready for bed (Que descanses)!

To get you started, our friends at Spanish Playground shared a helpful printable of common Spanish phrases to use with kids, which can be printed out and posted where your family can see it. Here’s a preview:

common phrases in Spanish

Download the full printable of all 61 common phrases in Spanish here, and make sure to check out the other resources Spanish Playground has available!

Readers, what other common phrases in Spanish have you learned? Let us know by leaving a comment below! 

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useful spanish phrases

15+ Useful Spanish Phrases and Etiquette Tips for Dining

useful spanish phrases

Are you planning to eat your way throughout Spain? Below, Spanish teacher Breeana D. shares some useful Spanish phrases and etiquette tips for dining out…

Are you planning a big trip to Spain? Chances are you’re going to be eating at a lot of delicious restaurants during your stay.

Before you embark on your trip, it’s a good idea to learn a few useful Spanish phrases as well as some etiquette tips.

After all, the same etiquette rules you follow in the U.S. might not necessary apply in Spain, as the culture is very different.

Below are a few tips for eating out, as well as 15 useful Spanish phrases to assist you while you taste all of the delicious foods Spain has to offer.

Spanish Etiquette for Dining

  • Allow the host to begin eating first: Don’t dive into your dish before the host. Wait until the host begins eating or says, “¡Buen Provecho!” or “¡Provecho!” (Enjoy your meal) to begin eating your meal.
  • Use your eating utensils: You will be given a fork, a spoon, and a knife to use while eating. Large spoons are for foods such as soup and beans. Small spoons are for desserts.
  • Keep your hands visible: Place your hands on either side of the plate when not eating. Hiding your hands is seen as suspicious. Be sure to keep your elbows off of the table, while keeping your hands visible.
  • Don’t dip your bread in the soup: In Spain, it is considered rude to dip your bread in the soup. In fact, it is uncommon to dip bread in anything, including sauces.
  • Call over the waiter for the bill: It’s considered rude for a waiter to bring the bill to the table unsolicited. If you want the bill, make a point of catching the waiter’s eye and making the hand gesture like you’re writing in mid air.
  • Engage in conversation: Spaniards love conversation! Feel free to talk about your day, your family, and your hobbies. Also, don’t be scared to ask others at the table questions about themselves.

15 Useful Spanish Phrases for Dining

Now that you’ve brushed up on your dining etiquette, it’s time to learn some Spanish common phrases that will come in handy when conversing with your waiter or others at the table.

Here are some common Spanish phrases that your waiter may use:

  • ¿Qué desea comer? (What would you like to eat?)
  • ¿Qué desea beber? (What would you like to drink?)
  • ¿Estan listos para ordenar? (Are you ready to order?)
  • ¿Qué quiere? (What do you want?)
  • ¿Lo siento/Lamento, no tenemos _____ (Sorry, we don’t have___)

When answering the questions above, try using these useful Spanish phrases:

  • Un momento por favor. (One moment please.)
  • Estoy/Estamos listos para ordenar. (I/We are ready to order.)
  • Quisiera _____. (I would like ___.)

When asking the waiter/waitress questions, use these useful Spanish words:

  • ¿Cuál es el plato del dia? (What is the dish of the day?)
  • ¿Qué nos recomienda? (What do you recommend?)
  • ¿Cuál trae el plato? (What is in the dish?)
  • ¿Soy alérigico a ___ (I’m allergic to___)
  • ¿Señor/Señora, la cuenta, por favor? (Mr./Ms. the bill, please?)

When talking to the person you’re dining with, these Spanish common phrases will come in handy:

  • ¿Qué nos recomienda? (What do you recommend?)
  • ¿Como es tu comida?  (How is your food?)
  • ¿Qué te gusta hacer?/¿Qué le gusta hacer? (What do you like to do?)
  • ¿Qué libro acabas de leer ?/¿Qué libro acaba de leer? (What book did you just finish reading?)

Useful Spanish Words for Dining

In addition to learning the useful Spanish phrases above, it’s also helpful to learn some common Spanish words you’ll encounter on a menu.

When ordering food, keep these common Spanish words in mind:

  • Una entrada (a starter)
  • Segundo (main meal)
  • Postre (dessert)
  • Vino (wine)

Here are some Spanish words you might come across when reading a menu:

  • Pollo (chicken)
  • Buey (beef)
  • Carne de cerdo (pork)
  • Gambas (prawns)
  • Cerveza (beer)
  • Vino de postre (dessert wine)
  • Vino rosado (rose wine)

See Also: Spanish Food Vocabulary

If you keep these helpful etiquette tips in mind and practice these useful Spanish phrases and words, you should be well prepared when going to eat out at a Spanish restaurant!

¡Buena suerte y buen provecho! (Good luck and enjoy your meal!)

Post Author: Breeana D.
Breeana D. teaches Spanish lessons in Abington, PA. Specializing in Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Education, she is currently enrolled in Temple University’s Elementary Education program. Learn more about Breeana here!

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28 Spanish Phrases & Jokes That Don't Quite Translate

28 Funny Spanish Phrases & Sayings That Don’t Quite Translate

28 Spanish Phrases & Jokes That Don't Quite Translate

There are dozens of funny Spanish phrases and sayings that will make you sound more like a native when conversing with friends and family. These sayings and jokes provide a unique “cultural window” that reflects the morals and values of many Spanish-speaking countries.

However, many of these funny things to say in Spanish don’t quite translate to English.  Check out the list below to see just how much Spanish speakers love to play around with words! (Translations included).

28 Funny Spanish Phrases, Sayings, & Jokes

Querer es poder.

Literal translation:
Wanting to, is being able to.

What it actually means:
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

This wise saying points to the resilient heart of Spanish culture, that even if an obstacle appears insurmountable at first, you can overcome it!

No hay mal que por bien no venga.

Literal translation:
There’s nothing bad that doesn’t occur in the name of a greater good.

What it actually means:
Every cloud has a silver lining.

This is one of our favorite funny Spanish sayings. It points to a belief in Spanish culture that even if an event appears negative, you should trust that it happened for a reason. Life is giving you what you need now, even if it feels rough.

You can also attribute it to the belief in a greater good, or a greater power.

Échale ganas.

Literal translation:
Insert desire.

What it actually means:
Try your best.

Ponte las pilas.

Literal translation:
Put your batteries on.

What it actually means:
Work hard.

Es mejor pedir perdón que permiso.

Literal translation:
It’s better to apologize than to ask for permission.

What it actually means:
Do what you need to do now.

Here the attitude is “you better just do what you need to do now and worry about the consequences after,” highlighting another cultural proclivity toward staying in the present moment and doing whatever is needed in that moment.

SEE ALSO: 35 Spanish Slang Words

Despacio que tengo prisa.

Literal translation:
Slowly that I’m in a rush.

What it actually means:
Slower is faster.

Many funny Spanish sayings also have a bit of wise advice attached to them. This one suggests that doing what you need to do slowly and thoroughly is more productive in the long-run.

Más vale mal por conocido que bueno por conocer.

Literal translation:
Known evil is better than unknown good.

What it actually means:
Be content with what you have now.

This saying suggests that known imperfection is better than idealizing a future alternative that may not be too good at all. This is a double-edged sword, however, as staying in your comfort zone can actually prevent you from better options.

Él que transa no avanza.

Literal translation:
He who deceives never advances.

What it actually means:
Deception never pays off.

This rhymes smoothly but only in Spanish.

Tirar la casa por la ventana.

Literal translation:
Throw the house out the window.

What it actually means:
Roll out the red carpet.

This saying is about splurging on special occasions, namely spending a lot of money when the situation warrants it.

Mandar a alguien por un tubo.

Literal translation:
Send someone through a tube.

What it actually means:
Tell them to shove it.

This is about setting limits when people don’t treat you right.

Quedarse con los brazos cruzados.

Literal translation:
Staying with your arms crossed.

What it actually means:
He/she froze.

SEE ALSO: 36 Popular Spanish Slang Words

This is when someone gets paralyzed and doesn’t act when they need to.

Caras vemos corazones no sabemos.

Literal translation:
We see faces but we don’t know hearts.

What it actually means:
Don’t judge a book by its cover.

This isn’t one of the funny things to say in Spanish, but rather something more serious. It means that you should realize things aren’t always the way they appear.

Mejor solo que mal acompañado.

Literal translation:
It’s better to be alone than in bad company.

What it actually means:
It’s okay to be alone sometimes.

This saying reminds people to take care of themselves in relationships.

De golosos y tragones, están llenos los panteones.

Literal translation:
Cemeteries are full of greedy people.

What it actually means:
Care for others — or else.

This saying works in English but doesn’t rhyme at all.

Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.

Literal translation:
A shrimp that sleeps is carried away by the current.

What it actually means:
You snooze, you lose.

Here, again, the rhyme is lost in translation but it’s a good reminder to seize opportunties as they come your way.

Más vale un pájaro en mano que ciento uno volando.

Literal translation:
One bird in hand is better than 100 birds flying.

What it actually means:
A bird in hand is worth two in a bush.

The meaning behind this message is simple: you already have something that’s guaranteed yours, so don’t be greedy and try to grab two more that may or may not be yours.

Se puso hasta las chanclas.

Literal translation:
He/she put themselves up to the sandals.

What it actually means:
He/she got hammered.

There are many funny Spanish phrases that have to do with drinking. Use this one when you have a friend who got a little too carried away the night before!

Palabras necias, oídos sordos.

Literal translation:
Annoying words, deaf ears.

What it actually means:
If you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say anything at all.

Nobody likes to listen to someone nagging, so it’s better to keep quiet!

Entre la espada y la pared.

Literal translation:
Between the sword and the wall.

What it actually means:
Between a rock and a hard place.

This describes a difficult situation where no matter what you do, it feels like the wrong choice.

Del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho.

Literal translation:
There’s a giant gap between the saying and the action.

What it actually means:
It’s easier said than done.

Sometimes it’s easier to talk about an action getting done than to physically carry it out.

Se fue de Guatemala a Guata-peor.

Literal translation:
It went from Guate-bad to Guata-worse.

What it actually means:
Things went from bad to worse.

This play on words is clearly compromised in the translation, as the original saying in Spanish uses the country Guatemala, which has the word “bad” in its last two syllables.

Entre broma y broma la verdad se asoma.

Literal translation:
Between jokes and jokes, the truth lurks.

What it actually means:
Jokes can reveal truths.

The beautiful rhyming in Spanish is again lost in the English translation.

RELATED: 50 Beautiful Spanish Words

Now let’s look at some funny Spanish phrases and jokes to share with your friends!

¿Qué le dijo un pez a otro pez? Nada.


What did one fish say to another? Nada.

The word “nada” in Spanish can refer to the command to swim, or the word “nothing.” So this joke is a play-on-words

Hay dos palabras que te abrirán muchas puertas: Empuje y jale.


There are two words that will open many doors for you: push and pull.

This hilarious little joke is another play-on-words in Spanish.

¿Qué le dijo una ganza a la otra? Venganza


What did one goose say to the other? Revenge.

If you separate the first syllable ven, meaning “come,” from the next two, ganza meaning “goose,” you’ll see that the joke’s answer simultaneously reads, “come goose” and the word “revenge.”

Clearly, this joke does not work in English, so if it were translated in a movie, the subtitles wouldn’t capture it well, no matter how skilled the translator is. Talk about a dad joke!

Se encuentran dos abogados y uno le dice al otro:

-¿Vamos a tomar algo?

-Bueno… ¿de quién?


There are two lawyers and one says to the other:

-“Let’s get a drink.”

-“Yes. From who?”

In Spanish the verb tomar (“to take”) is also used to mean “to drink,” so the lawyers are “taking a drink” and “taking something from someone” simultaneously. This highlights the cultural tendency to view lawyers as corrupt, opportunistic, and greedy.

“¡Te dije que me gustan las películas viejas y buenas y tú me llevaste a una película de viejas buenas!”


“I told you I liked good and old movies, but you took me to see a movie with pretty women!”

This play-on-words is especially complicated. While vieja means “old,” it also refers to a woman, and while buena usually means “good,” it can also mean “attractive” when referring to a person.

Now that you know these sayings, you won’t feel confused if you hear them in conversation! Good luck with your Spanish studies and learning the intricacies of this fascinating language and culture.

What other funny Spanish phrases, sayings, or jokes have you come across? Leave a comment and let us know!

JasonNPost Author: Jason N.
Jason N. tutors English and Spanish in Athens, GA. He majored in Spanish at UC Davis and studied Spanish Literature and Psychology at the University of Costa Rica. Learn more about Jason here!  

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