Spanish Phrasebook - Lesson 2 - Resources - Moon El Salvador (Moon Handbooks) - Jaime Jacques

Moon El Salvador (Moon Handbooks) - Jaime Jacques (2014)


Spanish Phrasebook

Spanish is the language of El Salvador, and if you speak even just a little, it will greatly enhance your experience and understanding of the culture. Fortunately for beginners, Salvadorans are very patient—even if your Spanish is abominable, most people will simply appreciate the fact that you are trying. The more you speak, the more your self confidence will surge, as Salvadorans have a lovely way of making you feel like your Spanish is fabulous and fluent, even when they can barely understand you. Since so many people who live here have spent time in the States, they understand what it is like to try and learn a new language, and as a result are very sympathetic to those who make an effort. You will notice that, with just a few phrases under your belt, you will hear more and more often, pero habla bien español! (but you speak Spanish well!). With this kind of friendly encouragement, El Salvador is an ideal place to study and practice. Remember the key to success is to have no shame. You will make many awkward mistakes along the way, but it’s all part of the process. One day you just might be amazed to find yourself spontaneously having a fluid conversation with someone, and the feeling of triumph will make all the hard work and embarrassing moments worth it.

Spanish commonly uses 30 letters—the familiar English 26, plus four straightforward additions: ch, ll, ñ, and rr, which are explained in “Consonants,” below.


Once you learn them, Spanish pronunciation rules—in contrast to English—don’t change. Spanish vowels generally sound softer than in English. (Note: The capitalized syllables below receive stronger accents.)


a like ah, as in “hah”: agua AH-gooah (water), pan PAHN (bread), and casa CAH-sah (house)

e like ay, as in “may:” mesa MAY-sah (table), tela TAY-lah (cloth), and de DAY (of, from)

i like ee, as in “need”: diez dee-AYZ (ten), comida ko-MEE-dah (meal), and fin FEEN (end)

o like oh, as in “go”: peso PAY-soh (weight), ocho OH-choh (eight), and poco POH-koh (a bit)

u like oo, as in “cool”: uno OO-noh (one), cuarto KOOAHR-toh (room), and usted oos-TAYD (you); when it follows a “q” the u is silent; when it follows an “h” or has an umlaut, it’s pronounced like “w”


b, d, f, k, l, m, n, p, q, s, t, v, w, x, y, z, and ch pronounced almost as in English; h occurs, but is silent—not pronounced at all

c like k as in “keep”: cuarto KOOAR-toh (room), Tepic tay-PEEK (capital of Nayarit state); when it precedes “e” or “i,” pronounce c like s, as in “sit”: cerveza sayr-VAY-sah (beer), encima ayn-SEE-mah (atop)

g like g as in “gift” when it precedes “a,” “o,” “u,” or a consonant: gato GAH-toh (cat), hago AH-goh (I do, make); otherwise, pronounce g like h as in “hat”: giro HEE-roh (money order), gente HAYN-tay (people)

j like h, as in “has”: Jueves HOOAY-vays (Thursday), mejor may-HOR (better)

ll like y, as in “yes”: toalla toh-AH-yah (towel), ellos AY-yohs (they, them)

ñ like ny, as in “canyon”: año AH-nyo (year), señor SAY-nyor (Mr., sir)

r is lightly trilled, with tongue at the roof of your mouth like a very light English d, as in “ready”: pero PAY-doh (but), tres TDAYS (three), cuatro KOOAH-tdoh (four)

rr like a Spanish r, but with much more emphasis and trill. Let your tongue flap. Practice with burro (donkey), carretera (highway), and Carrillo (proper name), then really let go with ferrocarril (railroad)

Note: The single small but common exception to all of the above is the pronunciation of Spanish y when it’s being used as the Spanish word for “and,” as in Ron y Kathy. In such case, pronounce it like the English ee, as in “keep”: Ron “ee” Kathy (Ron and Kathy).


The rule for accent, the relative stress given to syllables within a given word, is straightforward. If a word ends in a vowel, an n, or an s, accent the next-to-last syllable; if not, accent the last syllable.

Pronounce gracias GRAH-seeahs (thank you), orden OHR-dayn (order), and carretera kah-ray-TAY-rah (highway) with stress on the next-to-last syllable.

Otherwise, accent the last syllable: venir vay-NEER (to come), ferrocarril fay-roh-cah-REEL (railroad), and edad ay-DAHD (age).

Exceptions to the accent rule are always marked with an accent sign: (á, é, í, ó, or ú), such as teléfono tay-LAY-foh-noh (telephone), jabón hah-BON (soap), and rápido RAH-pee-doh (rapid).


Most Spanish-speaking people consider formalities important. Whenever approaching anyone for information or some other reason, do not forget the appropriate salutation—good morning, good evening, etc. Standing alone, the greeting hola (hello) can sound brusque.

Hello. Hola.

Good morning. Buenos días.

Good afternoon. Buenas tardes.

Good evening. Buenas noches.

How are you? ¿Cómo está usted?

Very well, thank you. Muy bien, gracias.

Okay; good. Bien.

Not okay; bad. Mal or feo.

So-so. Más o menos.

And you? ¿Y usted?

What’s up? ¿Que onda?

Thank you. Gracias.

Thank you very much. Muchas gracias.

You’re very kind. Muy amable.

You’re welcome. De nada.

Goodbye. Adios.

See you later. Hasta luego.

please por favor


no no

I don’t know. No sé.

Just a moment, please. Momentito, por favor.

Excuse me, please (when you’re trying to get attention). Disculpe or Con permiso.

Excuse me (when you’ve made a boo-boo). Lo siento.

Pleased to meet you. Mucho gusto.

Do you speak English? ¿Habla usted inglés?

Is English spoken here? (Does anyone here speak English?) ¿Se habla inglés?

I don’t speak Spanish well. No hablo bien el español.

I don’t understand. No entiendo.

How do you say … in Spanish? ¿Cómo se dice … en español?

What is your name? ¿Cómo se llama usted?

My name is … Me llamo …

Would you like … ¿Quisiera usted …

Let’s go to … Vamos a …


When in doubt, use the formal usted (you) as a form of address.

I yo

you (formal) usted

you (familiar) tu

he/him él

she/her ella

we/us nosotros

you (plural) ustedes

they/them ellos (all males or mixed gender); ellas (all females)

Mr., sir señor

Mrs., madam señora

miss, young lady señorita

husband esposo

wife esposa

friend amigo (male); amiga (female)

sweetheart novio (male); novia (female)

son; daughter hijo; hija

brother; sister hermano; hermana

father; mother padre; madre

grandfather; grandmother abuelo; abuela


Where is … ? ¿Dónde está … ?

How far is it to … ? ¿A cuánto está … ?

from … to … de … a …

Can you give me a ride? ¿Me puede dar un ride?

How many blocks? ¿Cuántas cuadras?

Where (Which) is the way to … ? ¿Dónde está el camino a … ?

the bus station la terminal de autobuses

the bus stop la parada de autobuses

Where is this bus going? ¿Adónde va este autobús?

the taxi stand la parada de taxis

the train station la estación de ferrocarril

the boat el barco

the launch lancha; tiburonera

the dock el muelle

the airport el aeropuerto

I’d like a ticket to … Quisiera un boleto a …

first (second) class primera (segunda) clase

roundtrip ida y vuelta

reservation reservación

baggage equipaje

Stop here, please. Pare aquí, por favor.

the entrance la entrada

the exit la salida

the ticket office la oficina de boletos

(very) near; far (muy) cerca; lejos

to; toward a

by; through por

from de

the right la derecha

the left la izquierda

straight ahead derecho; directo

in front en frente

beside al lado

behind atrás

the corner la esquina

the stoplight la semáforo

a turn una vuelta

right here aquí

somewhere around here por acá

right there allí

somewhere around there por allá

road el camino

street; boulevard calle; bulevar

block la cuadra

highway carretera

kilometer kilómetro

bridge; toll puente; cuota

address dirección

north; south norte; sur

east; west oriente (este); poniente (oeste)


hotel hotel

Is there a room? ¿Hay cuarto?

May I (may we) see it? ¿Puedo (podemos) verlo?

What is the rate? ¿Cuál es el precio?

Is that your best rate? ¿Es su mejor precio?

Is there something cheaper? ¿Hay algo más económico?

a single room un cuarto sencillo

a double room un cuarto doble

double bed cama matrimonial

twin beds camas gemelas

with private bath con baño

hot water agua caliente

shower ducha

towels toallas

soap jabón

toilet paper papel higiénico

blanket frazada; manta

sheets sábanas

air-conditioned aire acondicionado

fan abanico; ventilador

key llave

manager gerente


I’m hungry Tengo hambre.

I’m thirsty. Tengo sed.

menu carta; menú

order orden

glass vaso

fork tenedor

knife cuchillo

spoon cuchara

napkin servilleta

soft drink refresco

coffee café


drinking water agua pura; agua potable

bottled carbonated water agua mineral

bottled uncarbonated water agua sin gas

beer cerveza

wine vino

milk leche

juice jugo

cream crema

sugar azúcar

cheese queso

snack antojo; botana

breakfast desayuno

lunch almuerzo

daily lunch special comida corrida (or el menú del día depending on region)

dinner comida (often eaten in late afternoon); cena (a late-night snack)

the check la cuenta

eggs huevos

bread pan

salad ensalada

fruit fruta

mango mango

watermelon sandía

papaya papaya

banana plátano

apple manzana

orange naranja

lime limón

fish pescado

shellfish mariscos

shrimp camarones

meat (without) (sin) carne

chicken pollo

pork puerco

beef; steak res; bistec

bacon; ham tocino; jamón

fried frito

roasted asada

barbecue; barbecued barbacoa; al carbón


money dinero

money-exchange bureau casa de cambio

I would like to exchange traveler’s checks. Quisiera cambiar cheques de viajero.

What is the exchange rate? ¿Cuál es el tipo de cambio?

How much is the commission? ¿Cuánto cuesta la comisión?

Do you accept credit cards? ¿Aceptan tarjetas de crédito?

money order giro

How much does it cost? ¿Cuánto cuesta?

What is your final price? ¿Cuál es su último precio?

expensive caro

cheap barato; económico

more más

less menos

a little un poco

too much demasiado


Help me please. Ayúdeme por favor.

I am ill. Estoy enfermo.

Call a doctor. Llame un doctor.

Take me to … Lléveme a …

hospital hospital; sanatorio

drugstore farmacia

pain dolor

fever fiebre

headache dolor de cabeza

stomach ache dolor de estómago

burn quemadura

cramp calambre

nausea náusea

vomiting vomitar

medicine medicina

antibiotic antibiótico

pill; tablet pastilla

aspirin aspirina

ointment; cream pomada; crema

bandage venda

cotton algodón

sanitary napkins use brand name, e.g., Kotex

birth control pills pastillas anticonceptivas

contraceptive foam espuma anticonceptiva

condoms preservativos; condones

toothbrush cepilla dental

dental floss hilo dental

toothpaste crema dental

dentist dentista

toothache dolor de muelas


long-distance telephone teléfono larga distancia

I would like to call … Quisiera llamar a …

collect por cobrar

station to station a quien contesta

person to person persona a persona

credit card tarjeta de crédito

post office correo

general delivery lista de correo

letter carta

stamp estampilla, timbre

postcard tarjeta

aerogram aerograma

air mail correo aereo

registered registrado

money order giro

package; box paquete; caja

string; tape cuerda; cinta


border frontera

customs aduana

immigration migración

tourist card tarjeta de turista

inspection inspección; revisión

passport pasaporte

profession profesión

marital status estado civil

single soltero

married; divorced casado; divorciado

widowed viudado

insurance seguros

title título

driver’s license licencia de manejar


gas station gasolinera

gasoline gasolina

unleaded sin plomo

full, please lleno, por favor

tire llanta

tire repair shop vulcanizadora

air aire

water agua

oil (change) aceite (cambio)

grease grasa

My … doesn’t work. Mi … no sirve.

battery batería

radiator radiador

alternator alternador

generator generador

tow truck grúa

repair shop taller mecánico

tune-up afinación

auto parts store refaccionería


Verbs are the key to getting along in Spanish. They employ mostly predictable forms and come in three classes, which end in ar, er, and ir, respectively:

to buy comprar

I buy, you (he, she, it) buys compro, compra

we buy, you (they) buy compramos, compran

to eat comer

I eat, you (he, she, it) eats como, come

we eat, you (they) eat comemos, comen

to climb subir

I climb, you (he, she, it) climbs subo, sube

we climb, you (they) climb subimos, suben

Here are more (with irregularities indicated):

to do or make hacer (regular except for hago, I do or make)

to go ir (very irregular: voy, va, vamos, van)

to go (walk) andar

to love amar

to work trabajar

to want desear, querer

to need necesitar

to read leer

to write escribir

to repair reparar

to stop parar

to get off (the bus) bajar

to arrive llegar

to stay (remain) quedar

to stay (lodge) hospedar

to leave salir (regular except for salgo, I leave)

to look at mirar

to look for buscar

to give dar (regular except for doy, I give)

to carry llevar

to have tener (irregular but important: tengo, tiene, tenemos, tienen)

to come venir (similarly irregular: vengo, viene, venimos, vienen)

Spanish has two forms of “to be”:

to be estar (regular except for estoy, I am)

to be ser (very irregular: soy, es, somos, son)

Use estar when speaking of location or a temporary state of being: “I am at home.” “Estoy en casa.” “I’m sick.” “Estoy enfermo.” Use ser for a permanent state of being: “I am a doctor.” “Soy doctora.”


zero cero

one uno

two dos

three tres

four cuatro

five cinco

six seis

seven siete

eight ocho

nine nueve

10 diez

11 once

12 doce

13 trece

14 catorce

15 quince

16 dieciseis

17 diecisiete

18 dieciocho

19 diecinueve

20 veinte

21 veinte y uno or veintiuno

30 treinta

40 cuarenta

50 cincuenta

60 sesenta

70 setenta

80 ochenta

90 noventa

100 ciento

101 ciento y uno or cientiuno

200 doscientos

500 quinientos

1,000 mil

10,000 diez mil

100,000 cien mil

1,000,000 millón

one half medio

one third un tercio

one fourth un cuarto


What time is it? ¿Qué hora es?

It’s one o’clock. Es la una.

It’s three in the afternoon. Son las tres de la tarde.

It’s 4am. Son las cuatro de la mañana.

six-thirty seis y media

a quarter till eleven un cuarto para las once

a quarter past five las cinco y cuarto

an hour una hora


Monday lunes

Tuesday martes

Wednesday miércoles

Thursday jueves

Friday viernes

Saturday sábado

Sunday domingo

today hoy

tomorrow mañana

yesterday ayer

January enero

February febrero

March marzo

April abril

May mayo

June junio

July julio

August agosto

September septiembre

October octubre

November noviembre

December diciembre

a week una semana

a month un mes

after después

before antes