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Knowing even a few Spanish phrases is really useful if you’re learning Spanish or planning to visit a Spanish-speaking country. Even more so if you’re living in such a country.

There are lots of good reasons to learn Spanish, and if you want to spend any length of time in regions where Spanish is spoken, here are some really useful Spanish words and phrases that can help you make the most of your visit.

How to Say “Good Morning” in Spanish

“The morning” in Spanish is la mañana, but if you want to wish someone a good morning you must say buenos días, which literally means ‘good days' (note the plural). You'll never hear someone wish you a ‘buena mañana' – don't ask me why.

If you’re into Spanish grammar, note that día is one of the rare Spanish words that ends in an ‘-a' but is masculine, so it's buenos días, not buenas días.

How to Say “Goodnight” in Spanish

Like with buenos días, to wish someone goodnight in Spanish you have to say it in the plural: buenas noches. Similarly, “good evening” is buenas tardes.

In English we generally don't say “goodnight” as a greeting; it's more often used when you or the person you're talking to are about to go to bed. Spanish is not like this – buenas noches can be used as a greeting as well as a farewell, provided it's the right time of day.

So when's the right time of day to use buenas noches? Spanish doesn't really distinguish between the ‘afternoon' and the ‘evening' in the same way that English does; there's only the tarde, which starts at noon, and the noche, the night. Generally you'd say buenas tardes from midday until sunset, at which point you'd start saying buenas noches.

How to Say “Hello” in Spanish

We've covered “good morning” and “goodnight”, but we mustn't forget the most simple Spanish greeting of them all: hola, which means “hello”.

Hola, of course, can be said at any time of day, and it's by far the most common way of greeting someone in Spanish.

How to Say “I Love You” in Spanish

Spanish has two main ways of saying “I love you”.

The more common one is te quiero, which literally means “I want you”, but is used in many of the same ways we'd say “love” in English – e.g. talking to your boyfriend or girlfriend or to your family.

The more literal translation of “love” is amar. Te amo implies much more serious feelings than those conveyed by te quiero. If you're describing non-romantic love, e.g. for a relative, you should stick with ‘te quiero'.

How to Say “Happy Birthday” in Spanish

A birthday in Spanish is a cumpleaños, a combination of the words año, meaning “year”, and cumplir, which, among many other possible translations, can mean “to turn”, as in “to turn X years old”. On your fifth cumpleaños, you cumples cinco años (turn five). And to wish someone a happy birthday, you say feliz cumpleaños.

What about the song ”Happy Birthday”? Naturally, there's a Spanish version that uses the same melody – but different Spanish-speaking countries actually have their own versions of the lyrics. For example, here's the version you're most likely to hear in Spain:

Cumpleaños feliz,
cumpleaños feliz,
te deseamos (name),
cumpleaños feliz.

And there are many more versions.

How to Say “Thank you” in Spanish

To thank someone in Spanish, simply say gracias.

If you're feeling particularly grateful, you can add emphasis with muchas gracias or even muchísimas gracias. The verb ‘to thank' can be translated as dar gracias (to give thanks).

How to Say “You're Welcome” in Spanish

In English we have several ways of saying “you're welcome”, and Spanish is no different. When you say gracias to somebody, probably the most common response you'll hear is de nada (“it’s nothing”), but you might also hear mucho gusto (“my pleasure”), no hay de qué (“not at all!”), or las que tú tienes.

Despite what TV and movies might have made you believe, “no problem” in Spanish is not no problemo! Problemo isn't even a real Spanish word (it's problema), but even if it was, no problemo still wouldn't work since you can't stick no before a noun like that. If you really want to literally say ‘no problem', say no hay problema, sin problemas, or ningún problema.

How to Say “How Are You?” in Spanish

A common way to say “how are you?” in Spanish is ¿qué tal?, which could also be translated as “what's up?” or “how are things?”

An alternative is ¿cómo estás?, or ¿cómo está? – the latter being more formal because it means you're addressing the other person as usted rather than .

When someone asks you ¿qué tal? or cómo estás, you can simply reply with bien to let them know you're okay.

How to Say “I Miss You” in Spanish

There are two common ways to say “I miss you” in Spanish: te extraño and te echo de menos. The former is generally more common in Latin America, while the latter is more common in Spain, although either would probably be understood in both places.

How to Say “Yes” in Spanish

“Yes” in Spanish is , although Spanish speakers have a tendency to say it over and over again in rapid-fire when they could have just said it once: ¡sísísísísísí!.

Make sure you write with the accent when you mean ‘yes'. Si without an accent is pronounced the same way, but means “if”.

How to Say “Tomorrow” in Spanish

Mañana, mentioned earlier, means both “tomorrow” and “morning”. This sounds like it could get confusing, but it's almost always clear from the context which one is meant.

If you want to say “tomorrow morning”, don't say mañana mañana! The correct translation is mañana por la mañana (tomorrow in the morning).

How to Say “Why” in Spanish

To ask someone ‘why' in Spanish, say ¿por qué? – literally “for what?”

To respond to ¿por qué?, you might need the word porque, which means “because”. They look and sound similar, but note that porque is stressed on the first syllable, while ¿por qué? has more stress on the second word. (There's also the noun el porqué, which means “the reason”.)

A fun little expression you might find handy is porque sí, which literally means “because yes”. Porque sí is something you might say when someone asks you a question with ¿por qué? but you don't want to give a real explanation. It's the equivalent to responding to a “why?” question in English with the single word “because!” – it's a humorous way of answering without actually answering.

Numbers in Spanish

To master numbers in Spanish, first you need to learn how to count to twenty:

  • 0 – cero
  • 1 – uno
  • 2 – dos
  • 3 – tres
  • 4 – cuatro
  • 5 – cinco
  • 6 – seis
  • 7 – siete
  • 8 – ocho
  • 9 – nueve
  • 10 – diez
  • 11 – once
  • 12 – doze
  • 13 – trece
  • 14 – catorce
  • 15 – quince
  • 16 – dieciséis
  • 17 – diecisiete
  • 18 – dieciocho
  • 19 – diecinueve
  • 20 – veinte

(Note that 16-19 are particularly easy to remember because they're simply formed by combining diez, ten, and a smaller number.)

Next you should learn the remaining multiples of ten:

  • 30 – treinta
  • 40 – cuarenta
  • 50 – cincuenta
  • 60 – sesenta
  • 70 – setenta
  • 80 – ochenta
  • 90 – noventa
  • 100 – cien

To fill in the gaps, just observe some examples and the pattern should be obvious:

  • 21 – veintiuno
  • 22 – veintidós
  • 23 – veintitrés
  • 31 – treinta y uno
  • 41 – cuarenta y uno
  • 57 – cincuenta y siete
  • 58 – cincuenta y ocho
  • 59 – cincuenta y nueve

When it comes to really big numbers, note that Spanish uses the long scale naming system, meaning that while a “billion” in English has nine zeroes on the end (which Spanish speakers call simply mil millones, a thousand millions), a billón in Spanish has twelve zeroes (what English speakers call a “trillion”).

On the subject of big numbers, in English we often write them with a comma every three digits to aid readability, e.g. “1,000,000”, but in Spanish you use a full stop (that’s a “period” for the American readers) for the same purpose: “1.000.000”. Similarly, in Spanish you use a comma for the decimal point, so e.g. the number that we write as “1,499.99” would normally be written as “1.499,99” in most Spanish-speaking countries.

Days of the Week in Spanish

The days of the week in Spanish are simply:

  • Monday – lunes
  • Tuesday – martes
  • Wednesday – miércoles
  • Thursday – jueves
  • Friday – viernes
  • Saturday – sábado
  • Sunday – domingo

Remember that in Spanish, unlike in English, days of the week are not written with a capital letter.

Months in Spanish

  • January – enero
  • February – febrero
  • March – marzo
  • April – abril
  • May – mayo
  • June – junio
  • July – julio
  • August – agosto
  • September – septiembre
  • October – octubre
  • November – noviembre
  • December – diciembre

Like days of the week, month names in Spanish are also not capitalised.

Colours in Spanish

Like English, Spanish has an enormous number of words for different colours, including obscure and fancy words (azure, fuschia) that almost never get used. Here are the most important ones you should know:

  • blue – azul
  • yellow – amarillo
  • red – rojo
  • orange – anaranjado
  • white – blanco
  • black – negro
  • brown – marrón
  • green – verde
  • grey – gris (2)

George Julian

Content Writer, Fluent in 3 Months

George is a polyglot, linguistics nerd and travel enthusiast from the U.K. He speaks four languages and has dabbled in another five, and has been to more than forty countries. He currently lives in London.

Speaks: English, French, Spanish, German, Vietnamese, Portuguese

View all posts by George Julian


How can I become fluent in Spanish in 3 months? ›

Here are some of his best tips for learning a language in three months:
  1. Speak the language out loud from day one. ...
  2. Learn practical phrases first. ...
  3. Forget about learning strict grammar. ...
  4. Practice by Skyping with a native speaker. ...
  5. Listen to local radio stations. ...
  6. Practice a one-minute introduction to yourself.
Mar 14, 2014

How can I become fluent in Spanish for free? ›

Here are a couple popular ways to learn Spanish for free:
  1. Online courses, software, and apps.
  2. Language exchange/tandem learning with a native speaker.
  3. Media resources like podcasts, TV shows and movies.
  4. Library books and public resources.
  5. Immersion learning.

How long does it take to learn fluent Spanish? ›

According to an FSI study, i.e. the Foreign Service Institute, it should take a new learner approximately 600 classroom hours to achieve conversational fluency in Spanish. They also suggest an approximate 1:1 ratio between the time spent independently studying Spanish and the time spent in a classroom.

How can a beginner speak Spanish fluently? ›

7 tips on speaking Spanish fluently and confidently
  1. Read aloud. Spanish pronunciation is easy as each letter of the alphabet can only be pronounced one way. ...
  2. Practise, practise, practise. ...
  3. Buddy up. ...
  4. Build your own phrasebook. ...
  5. Stick to one Spanish variety. ...
  6. Sing along. ...
  7. Exercise your brain.

Is fluent in 3 months worth it? ›

Fluent In 3 Months Premium serves as a good hand-holder for completely new language learners who are in the dark about how to get started learning a language. There are some solid gems of advice scattered throughout, however there's excessive 'filler' content making the course seem larger than it actually is.

How long does it take to become fully fluent? ›

According to FSI research, it takes around 480 hours of practice to reach basic fluency in all Group 1 languages.

Can I become fluent in Spanish in 6 months? ›

If you can manage to combine being surrounded by native Spanish speakers and by the Spanish language itself, you will be able to become fluent in 6 months (given that you will put efforts into study).

Can I become fluent in Spanish in 2 years? ›

You really can speak fluently in just a couple of years if you work hard and apply a few straightforward principles. As a language learner who's also a language teacher, I can confidently say that they work.

What level of Spanish is considered fluent? ›

If your goal is Spanish fluency, aim for a C1 level in which you can fluently speak and express yourself. A C1 level does not mean you understand every word in the language but that you can handle most conversations and some tricky topics. The C2 level is complete mastery.

How often should I practice Spanish to become fluent? ›

There are simply too many variables and different situations in each of our lives. However, in general you will become more fluent with daily exposure. Speak, read, write and listen to Spanish for at least an hour every day. The amount of time and effort you put into Spanish will directly improve your fluency.

Can you become fluent in Spanish in 3 years? ›

The bottom line

If you start out as a beginner and spend an average of 1 hour per day working on your Spanish, you should able to reach conversational fluency within 8 – 12 months. That translates to roughly 250 – 350 hours of time spent.

How many words do you need to know to become fluent in Spanish? ›

If you think about native-level fluency, you'll need to master between 20,000 and 40,000 words, and as you can see the margin is quite large. If you want to have a basic conversation, experts say that you'll just need around 3,000 words.

Can you become fluent in Spanish in a year? ›

Your deadline will depend on how much time you can put aside to study each day. If you're starting from scratch, you could reach this level of fluency in 1 year by studying for 2 – 3 hours per day. If you're already at an intermediate level, you could get there in about 6 months.

How much Spanish can you learn in a month? ›

Fifteen hours per week is an intensive study schedule, but one that a highly motivated student could realistically commit to. That gives you around 60 hours of Spanish in one month.

Is it hard to become fluent Spanish? ›

Spanish is reputed to be one of the easiest languages for native English speakers to learn, and with over 500 million fluent speakers (50 million of whom live in the US), you'd have to be living in a cave to not bump into one of them fairly often.

Is 2 hours a week enough to learn a language? ›

For most people, around 30 minutes of active study and 1 hour of language exposure a day is a schedule that will give you great results. It's a model that's sustainable over a long period to help you reach fluency. But of course, it all depends on your goals and expectations.

How many months does it take to speak English fluently? ›

Specifically, a year is the average amount of time it will take an adult to become fluent enough to work in English if he starts out as a beginner and studies at least 5 hours a day. But everyone is different. How long it will take you to learn English depends on many things: Your current level of English.

Is 1 hour a week enough to learn a language? ›

Realistically, however, at least 20 minutes per day should be dedicated to learning a new language. The ideal amount of time to spend on daily study, if you can find the time, is an hour, but you don't need to cram it all in at once.

Can you become fluent in a language after 40? ›

You can become a perfectly fluent speaker of a foreign language at any age, and small imperfections of grammar or accent often just add to the charm. Learn a new language.

What is the hardest language to become fluent in? ›

Across multiple sources, Mandarin Chinese is the number one language listed as the most challenging to learn. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center puts Mandarin in Category IV, which is the list of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers.

What is the easiest language to become fluent in? ›


This may come as a surprise, but we have ranked Norwegian as the easiest language to learn for English speakers. Norwegian is a member of the Germanic family of languages — just like English!

How long does it take to get to C1 Spanish? ›

After you've reached B2, getting to the C1 level requires you to study around 200-240 additional hours, but you may be able to do this faster or slower depending on your learning method. If you're following a very intensive path, you'll need approximately four months.

Can you master Spanish in 3 months? ›

It is possible to learn Spanish in 3 months, but it is true that to fully master the language to a native level, you will need more time. An intensive Spanish course covering all levels (from A1 to C2) consists of 62 weeks (about 15 months in total).

How long does it take to become B2 in Spanish? ›

Normally it takes around 10 months to study up till B2 level in Spanish. That means four books, one for each level, A1, A2, B1 & B2.

How long can it take to master Spanish? ›

How Much Time And Energy Are You Willing To Spend Learning Spanish? The Foreign Service Institute—the people who train U.S. diplomats and foreign affairs officials—estimate that it will take 600-750 class hours for most native English speakers to learn Spanish.

How long does it take to learn Spanish 2 hours a day? ›

So let's say you're spending 2-3 hours per day studying Spanish, that would mean you could reach conversational fluency in about 5-8 months. This definitely sounds like a reasonable expectation based on the amount of time invested.

How hard is C1 Spanish? ›

C1 means you're fluent and will be able to use Spanish professionally. It doesn't hurt to get a certificate if you are at this level. It might help you with future job opportunities. As I mentioned before, it's good to spend some time abroad for this level.

What is B2 level Spanish equivalent to? ›


Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.

What is a B2 level in Spanish? ›

A1 Beginner (levels 1-3) A2 Elementary (levels 4-6) B1 Intermediate (levels 7-10) B2 Upper Intermediate (levels 11-14)

How many days a week should I practice Spanish? ›

Aim to spend at least an hour a day practicing basic conversation skills. Once you've reached a intermediate level, you can start studying grammar and vocabulary for two or three hours a day. If you're already proficient in Spanish and just want to keep your skills sharp, an hour of practice each day should suffice.

How many Spanish lessons should you have a week? ›

Budget and time allowing, 3 lessons per week is a good goal. Those can either be 30 minute or 1 hour long lessons; clearly, 1 hour long lessons will move you along much quicker.

How long does it take to get to B1 Spanish? ›

To reach an A2 level, you'll need to put in about 180 to 200 hours; for B1, about 350 to 400 total.

Does 3 years of Spanish look good for college? ›

High school students should prepare for future studies by taking at least a third year of a foreign language. Three years of foreign language classes are needed to be a competitive candidate for most college applications, internships, and job opportunities.

What is C2 level Spanish? ›

The DELE C2 certifies sufficient linguistic competence to communicate effectively in any situation, proving ability to spontaneously adapt to any context, with a high degree of precision. The language users show subtle control of nuances which allow for fluent and natural expression in all interactions.

How many hours does it take to become fluent in a language? ›

Research shows that it takes between 480 hours and 2200 hours of language study and practice. To reach an advanced level in a foreign language you will need at least 480 hours. The majority of people are not able to learn a language 'full-time' so it can take a few years.

How many words does a B2 speaker know? ›

Level B2: Basic Fluency

Reaching B2 is generally considered by most people as having basic fluency. You'll have a working vocabulary of around 4000 words.

How many words does a fluent speaker know? ›

An advanced speaker of a language is also categorized as fluent. Fluency means you've reached 10,000+ words and have reached the highest level of mastering a language without being a native speaker.

Can you learn a language after 50? ›

Learn a Language in Your Fifties: It's Never Too Late to Get Started. There's some truth to what the naysayers are telling you. Neuroplasticity does decrease with age, and learning a language in your fifties might prove to be more challenging than learning it in elementary school.

Can I become fluent in a language in 5 months? ›

The short answer? It varies. Learning a new language isn't the same process for every single person. It can take as little as three months or as many as two years to learn how to write, speak, and read fluently in a new language.

Can I learn Spanish at 60? ›

Are you ever too old to learn a new language? Well, the good news is that experts say you are never too old. Studies show that anyone at any age can learn a new language. In fact, it is even easier to start speaking in a foreign language now with all the advanced technology available on the market.

Can you learn Spanish in 7 days? ›

Obviously I'm not going to teach you to become fluent in a new language in 7 days. That's impossible. There are people who've spoken English their entire life and are still horrible at it. But if we learn smart we can definitely learn to say a lot in a new language in that short time.

How much Spanish can I learn in 6 weeks? ›

The rule says that you can learn 600 unique words in only six weeks. This number is higher than the number of unique terms used by the most widely circulated newspapers. You can achieve this goal by spending six times 10 minutes a day.

How long does it take to become fluent in Spanish with Rosetta Stone? ›

It takes the average learner 50 hours to complete a chosen language with the Rosetta Stone Library Solution. If you set aside five 30-minute sessions a week, the average learner would complete their learning in 20 weeks.

What is the hardest language for Spanish speakers to learn? ›

It's easier for Spanish speakers to learn other Romance languages (e.g., Italian, Portuguese, French). That said, languages such as Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean would be even more difficult than English.

Which country has the hardest Spanish to learn? ›

Which Spanish is hardest to understand? Chile, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Andalusia (Spain) are a few of the places considered to speak more difficult Spanish.

What is the fastest someone can learn Spanish? ›

Spanish is considered one of the easiest languages for the average English speaker, and FSI diplomats usually need between 575 and 600 hours—23 to 24 weeks. If they know other Romance languages, such as French, Portuguese, Italian, Catalan, or Romanian, the time until fluency may be even shorter.

What is the fastest you can become fluent in a language? ›

True language fluency requires consistent effort and time, and while 500 – 1,000 hours may seem like a lot, a typical person could probably invest that level of time over 12 – 18 months, with the right study schedule.

Can I learn Spanish in 30 days? ›

If you're starting from zero, you cannot expect to become a Spanish-speaking diplomat in 30 days, but you can surely learn a lot if you set your mind to it and have a good game plan. You could easily learn how to hold decent conversations and write out any messages, emails or letters you might like to send.

How do I become fluent in 90 days? ›

Start memorizing 30 words and phrases per day

Because in 90 days, you'll have learned 80% of the language. Knowing 80% of the occurrences is sufficient enough to reach conversation fluency, with the ability to have a fluid conversation with any native speaker you encounter.

Can you become fluent in Spanish in 4 months? ›

Spanish is a Romance language itself, so a lot of the vocabulary and grammar you learn will probably look very familiar to you. Learning Spanish will take you half the amount of hours an English speaker would need. If you study hard, you could easily reach fluency in nine to 12 months.

How many hours a day should you study a language to become fluent? ›

The short answer is as much as possible.

Realistically, however, at least 20 minutes per day should be dedicated to learning a new language. The ideal amount of time to spend on daily study, if you can find the time, is an hour, but you don't need to cram it all in at once.

Can I become fluent in Spanish in 4 years? ›

The bottom line

If you start out as a beginner and spend an average of 1 hour per day working on your Spanish, you should able to reach conversational fluency within 8 – 12 months. That translates to roughly 250 – 350 hours of time spent.

Can I become fluent in Spanish in a month? ›

According to the US Foreign Service Institute (FSI), if you spend an average of one hour per day studying Spanish, you could achieve fluency after 480 hours of work. That's just over a year. That's not bad at all, and it's a realistic time frame.

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