When’s the last time you looked up something you read, word-for-word, and the translation made ZERO sense?
When this happens, you have almost always come across a phrase or expression that you are not familiar with.
Spanish is full of common phrases that cannot be translated literally into English, and as a Spanish learner you MUST learn these word combinations so you won’t be left in the dark.
Here are some essential phrases all Spanish learners should know:
1) Acabar de – to have just finished
Acabo de terminar de preparar la cena. Vengan a comer.
I just finished making dinner. Come eat.
2) Caerse bien – to be fond of, to get along with
Me cae muy bien tu amiga Rosa.
I am very fond of your friend Rosa.
3) Dar a luz – to give birth, to have a baby
¿Cuándo va a dar a luz?
When is she going to have her baby?
4) Darse cuenta – to realize, to become aware of
Me dí cuenta de que no apagué el horno antes de salir de la casa.
I became aware that I didn’t turn off the oven before I left the house.
5) De nuevo – again, once more
A ver, explícamelo de nuevo por favor. No entendí muy bien.
Wait, explain it to me again please. I didn’t understand very well.
6) De repente – suddenly, all of a sudden
Estaban cenando todos cuando de repente se fue la luz.
They were all eating dinner when suddenly the lights went out.
7) De vez en cuando – every now and then, sometimes
De vez en cuando me gustaría llegar a la casa y no tener que cocinar.
Every now and then I would like to get home and not have to cook.
8) Echar de menos – to miss
¡Adiós abuela! ¡Le echaré de menos!
Bye grandma! I will miss you!
9) En cambio – on the other hand, instead
Mi hija mayor es muy tranquila. En cambio, mi hija menor nunca se queda quieta.
My oldest daughter is very calm. On the other hand, my youngest daughter never sits still.
10) En serio – really, honestly
¿Tú crees todo lo que nos dijo? ¿En serio?
You believe everything that he told us? Really?
11) Estar de prisa – to be in a hurry
Lo siento Mari, no puedo hablar ahora. Estoy de prisa.
I’m sorry Mari I can’t talk now. I’m in a hurry.
12) Hace mucho – a long time ago, awhile
Hace mucho que no veo a tu hermano. ¿Como está?
It has been a long time since I have seen your brother. How is he?
13) Hacer caso – to pay attention, to notice
Yo sí quería andar contigo pero nunca me hiciste caso.
I wanted to go out with you but you never paid attention to me.
14) No vale la pena – it’s not worth it
¡Pero solo ganas tres dólares por hora! Ese trabajo no vale la pena.
But you only earn three dollars an hour! That job is not worth it.
15) Por lo menos – at least
Por lo menos te llamó para cancelar la visita.
At least she called to cancel the visit.
There you have it, 15 common Spanish phrases you’ve probably heard before. Now you know what they mean.
Empowering, isn’t it?
Make flashcards with these phrases so you can commit them to memory. Review them daily until you know them by heart.
Learn Spanish the Way It's Really Spoken!
Get your nose out of the books and join 2,237 Spanish learners that are learning to speak Spanish with real people.
We'll send our best advice and resources for how to learn conversational Spanish, PLUS giveaways of the best resources for learning Spanish directly to your inbox.
¡Hola! My name is Tamara Marie. I’m a language coach specializing in brain-friendly methods to learn foreign languages faster. I speak English (US native), Spanish (advanced), and Brazilian Portuguese (beginner). I’m a Latin music & dance addict and passionate about helping people learn languages.