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Basic Conversation Skills – Spanish to English Translations

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

When you’re learning a new language, practicing conversations with other students – or better yet native speakers – is a great way to improve your fluency. The following is a list of some of the most common Spanish phrases that will come up as you interact in a conversation with others. Be sure to practice them and include them in all your Spanish language conversation situations until you get them right.

Basic Introductions

Buenos días. Good morning.
Buenas tardes. Good afternoon.
Buenas noches. Good night.

Common Courtesies

Por favor. Please.
Gracias. Thank you.
Si. Yes.
No. No.
De nada. You’re welcome.
Perdóneme. Excuse me.
Lo siento. I’m sorry

Meeting & Greeting
¿Cómo se llama Usted? What is your name?
Me llamo ______. My name is ______.
¿Cómo está Usted? How are you?
¡Que tenga un buen día! Have a nice day!
Estoy bien, gracias. I am fine, thank you.
Mucho gusto en conocerlo. I am pleased to meet you.
Depende. That depends.

Making Yourself Understood

¿Habla Usted inglés? Do you speak English?
¿Se habla inglés aquí? Does anyone here speak English?
No lo entiendo. I don’t understand.
¿Qué dijo Usted? What did you say?
¿Puede hablar más lentamente? Could you speak more slowly?
Lo comprendo perfectamente. I understand perfectly.
¿Qué tal ha estado Usted? How have you been?

Expressing Yourself

No lo sé. I don’t know.
Creo que no. I don’t think so.
Creo que sí. I think so.
No importa. It doesn’t matter.
No me molesta. I don’t mind.
¡Claro! Of course!
Es verdad. That’s right or that’s true.
Con gusto. With pleasure.

Intermediate Introductions

¡Tanto gusto! How do you do? / Nice to meet you.
Permítame presentarle a mi secretario. May I introduce my secretary.
Quiero presentarle a mi padre. This is my father.
¿Cómo se va? How are you?
Muy bien, gracias. I’m very well, thank you.
¡Estás en vuestra casa! Make yourself at home.

Common Questions

¿De dónde venéis? Where are you from?
¿Cuál es vuestro dirección? What is your address?
¿Cuál es vuestro número de teléfono? What is your telephone number?
Estoy perdido. I’m lost.
¿Podría Ayudarse? Can I Help You?
¿Puede Ayudarme? Can You Help Me?
¿Dónde Está el Baño? Where is the bathroom?
¿Dónde Está la Farmacia? Where is the pharmacy?
¡Un Momento, Por Favor! Hold On Please! (used on the telephone)

Easy Expressions

Tiene mucho talento. He is very talented.
Soy capaz de hacer este trabajo. I’m able to do this work.
Le da miedo la oscuridad He’s afraid of the dark.
Me temo que no venga. I’m afraid she won´t come.
¿Puedo irme ahora? Is it alright to leave now?
¿Qué haces para entretenerte? What do you do for amusement?

Chatting in Spanish

¿Por qué no contestas? Why don’t you answer?
¿Tienes alguna idea? Do you have any idea at all?
¿Alguien que quiera hablar conmigo? Anyone want to chat with me?
Si puedo ayudarte de alguna manera, dímelo. If I can help you, let me know.
Pedir hora con el doctor. Make an appointment with the Doctor.
Me gustaría hacer un apunte. I would like to make an appointment
¿Puedo hacerte una pregunta? Can I ask you something?
Le pregunté dónde vivía. I asked him where he lives.

Basic Job Search Expressions – Spanish to English Translation

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

If you’re searching for a job, being bilingual can be a big asset. But you aren’t fluently bilingual yet, you’ll need to learn some common expressions used in finding a job in the English speaking world. Searching for a job requires you to know common conversational phrases and sentences, as well as phrases and sentences specific to the job search process. The following are some common terms and phrases that you’ll need to familiarize yourself with. Practice them until you’re comfortable speaking them.

Basic Introductions

Hello. – Hola.
Good day, or good morning. – Buenas dias.
How are you? – Como esta usted?
I am well, thank you. – Estoy bien, gracias.
I am pleased to meet you. – Mucho gusto.
What is your name? – Como se llama usted?
My name is ____. – Me llamo _____.

Language Skills

Do you speak Spanish? – Habla espanol?
Do you understand me? – Me entiende?
I do not speak English. – No habla ingles.
Please speak slowly. – Hable despacio por favor.
I do not understand. – No entiendo.
Can you translate this for me? – Puede traducirme esto, por favor?

Common Courtesies

Yes. – Si.
Of course. – Claro que sí.
I don’t know. – Yo (no le) se.
No. – No.
Thank you. – Gracias.
Please. – Por favor.
You’re welcome. – De nada.

Asking Questions

I want (would like)___. – Quiero ____.
Can you help me? – Puede usted aydarme?
With your permission. – Con permiso.
Excuse me. – Perdon.

Job Search Paperwork

Work visa – Una visa con actividad lucrativa
Tourist visa – Una vista de turista
Immigration office – La oficina de migracion
Birth certificate – Acta de nacimiento
Driver’s license – Licencia de conducer

Job Titles

Director – El director
Lawyer – Un abogado
Manager – El gerente
Notary – Un notario
Representative – Un representativo
Salesman – Un vendedor
Secretary – Una secretaria
Business departments – Departamentos de los negocios
Human resources – Recursos humanos

Employment Questions

What work do you do? – En que trabaja?
I work from home. – Trabajo en casa.
I’m self employed – Trabajo por cuenta propia.
I have been unemployed for ___ months. – He estado en el paro ___ meses.
It’s very difficult to get a job right now. – Ahora es muy dificil encontrar trabajo.
What are your hours? – Cuales son sus horas de trabajo
What time does the office open (close)? – A que hora abren (cierran) la oficina?
From 9 to 5 – De nueve a cinco
From Monday to Friday – De lunes a viernes
How much vacation time do you get? – Cuanto tiempo tiene de vacaciones?
Are you free to meet ____? – Esta usted libre para vernos ____?
How do I get to your office? – Como se va a su oficina?

Organizational Details

I will confirm by letter (by fax). – Lo confirmare por escrito (por fax).
I have an appointment with___. – Tengo una cita con ____.
Do you have an appointment? – Esta usted citado(a)?
Please be seated. – Sientese, por favor.
Mr. (Mrs.) ___ is not in the office now. – Senor (Senora) ___ no esta en la oficina ahora.
He (She) will be back in 5 minutes. – Estara de vuelta en cinco minutos.
___ will be with you in just a moment. – Ahora enseguida viene.
I would like to talk with the office manager. – Quisiera hablar con el jefe (la jefa) de oficina.
I must go now. – Tengo que ir ahora.

Why You Should Learn Spanish?

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Currently, Spanish is the primary language for over 400 million people around the world. Twenty three countries use Spanish as their nation language, and there are over 38 million people in the United States alone who speak Spanish as a primary language. In fact, the number of people that speak Spanish fluently continues to grow every day, and many experts say Spanish may eventually match English in the United States in terms of the number of people who speak it as their primary language.

In addition to being one of the most frequently used languages around the world, there are several other reasons why you should spend time learning the Spanish language. The following are just a few of the top benefits that come with speaking Spanish:

      Many of the words commonly used in both English and Spanish had origins in Latin. Learning Spanish will help you to understand the roots of words, which will help you in learning more languages. In fact, many people find that once they’ve learned Spanish, it only takes a little more effort to pick up French and Italian – two other Romance languages that have similar linguistic structures.
      Learning any new language will improve your communication skills in your native language. As you learn a new language, you become more attuned to the grammar rules and sentence structures of both languages. Because you’re constantly thinking about how things translate, you’re more aware of the choices you make in both your native and second languages.
      Learning another language helps to improve your skills in interacting with other people. As you learn the Spanish language, you’ll probably also pick up information about the culture and customs of Hispanic communities. Being familiar with a person’s cultural history can be an enormous help if you plan to work closely with native Spanish speakers.
      You’ll be able to negotiate business deals more effectively with Spanish people. If you’re learning Spanish for your job, you’ll be able to move more quickly up the ranks since you have knowledge and skills your co-workers may not have.
      You’ll find it easier to get a new job if you speak two or more languages. As business becomes increasingly globalized, many countries are looking for applicants who can speak Spanish, in fields as far reaching as accounting and engineering. In this tough job market, anything that sets you apart from other candidates can be a great help!
      You’ll be able to travel to a Spanish-speaking country without worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to communicate effectively. If you’ve ever wanted to travel to Mexico, Spain, or another Spanish-speaking country, you’ll be able to do so without being unable to communicate for things like directions, food orders, and taxis.

While learning to speak read and write a new language holds a certain appeal for most of us, actually learning it is another thing altogether. Spanish can be difficult to learn, and if you choose a Spanish instruction method that moves too quickly or slowly for you, or if you don’t see results fast enough, you may be more likely to stop. You need to feel comfortable with your Spanish language instruction method, its pace, and whether or not you can keep up with it.

Differences in Spanish Dialects - Spain vs. Mexico

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Spanish is one of the most commonly-used languages in the world, right behind English and Mandarin Chinese. Today, over 30 countries list Spanish as their main language and it’s estimated that over 400 million people speak Spanish as a first language.

However, if you’re thinking of learning Spanish, you’ll need to think about where you want to use your newfound language skills, as there are several different Spanish dialects. The two major dialects are those used in Mexico and Spain, although other Spanish-speaking countries may have their own variants as well. Many students worry that the differences between the major dialects are so great that studying one is useless if you need to know the other. That’s not the case, but it’s like comparing American and British English. People who can speak Spanish can still converse with others who speak different dialects, although they may need to go slowly!

The differences between the dialects are more common in written Spanish than in the spoken word. However, it’s not so different that you can’t learn these differences if you need to. And while it’s common to think of Latin American Spanish as one common dialect of Spanish, there are actually many subtle differences that occur in the different countries of the Western hemisphere. Fortunately, they aren’t so different that they prevent communication.

Here are a few of the differences you’ll find between Castilian and Mexican Spanish:


There are several specific variations in the sounds of spoken words in Mexican and Castilian Spanish. Castilian Spanish dictates that the “z” and the “c” are pronounced before the “i” or the “e”; however, most Latin Americans pronounce it like an “s”. The sound normally associated with the Spanish letter “ll” and “y” are often pronounced like the “s”, as in the word measure. This is very common in Argentina. You’ll also find that many people will completely drop the “s” sound, while the “j” sounds more like the “ch” sound, as in the word “loch”. The rhythm of the speech is also different between the two dialects.


There are two significant differences here, including the use of “leismo” and “yos” instead of “tu”. “Tu” is the singular form of “you” in Spain, while in Latin America, the word “usted” is normally used instead.


Normally, the differences in vocabulary between these two dialects occur when a suffix is used. In Latin America, a “computadora” is a “computer”, while in Spain it is called an “ordenador”. These differences are very similar to the variations between British and American English, such as a “chip” referring to what Americans would call a “French fry”. If you’re planning to transition between areas that speak different Spanish dialects, you may find it helpful to brush up on your vocabulary before you arrive, so that you don’t unintentionally offend someone!

A Final Note

Even though there are differences between the two dialects, it’s not impossible to be understood or to converse in any of the Spanish-speaking countries if you have a decent knowledge of either Spanish dialect. While you may be somewhat confused initially, it shouldn’t take you long to understand the quirky phrases and words that are common in any country.

Using Connecting Words In Spanish

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Even though the connecting words “and’, “or”, “the”, and “of” may occupy very little room in a sentence, it’s important to make sure that you use them in their proper context. The better you are at replicating the syntax of the Spanish language, the easier it will be to communicate with others. In many cases, you’ll find that these words perform similar functions as their English counterparts, making your transition to Spanish fluency easier.


Regardless of whether you’re reading, writing, or speaking Spanish, the word “and” is represented by the letter “y”. As in English, the word “and” is meant to form a conjunction, as well convey a sense of addition or gain. For example, “I speak German, English and Spanish” would be written in Spanish as “Yo hablo aleman, ingles, y espanol.”


In Spanish, “or” is written simply as the letter “o”. As with English, the word “or” in Spanish is used to convey that the reader or listener has a choice between one item or another. Because “and” and “or” are both expressed with just one letter, it’s important to make sure that you don’t confuse them. In addition, when you’re working with verbal Spanish, it’s important to make sure you know which word is being used to be sure your meaning is clear.


Even though the word “the” has no meaning, it gives a great deal of structure to a sentence. While it’s only represented by one word in English, you’ll find it has four different spellings in Spanish. As with nouns, you will need to match “the” based on gender and the number of items involved. Male nouns would be preceded by “el” if singular and “los” if plural. On the other hand, singular female nouns are preceded by “la”, while plural nouns are preceded by “las”. As an example, “the book” would be “el libro” while “the jigsaw puzzle” would be “la rompecabeza.


As you may know, the word “of” is translated to “de” in Spanish, which is often used to indicate ownership. In many cases, you’ll find that “de” is used instead of an apostrophe and often results in the enormous difference between the syntax of an English and Spanish sentence. For example, in English we might write “Tom’s book is on the table”. On the other hand, in Spanish we would say “El libro de Tom esta en la tabla”. This does take some getting used to, but with practice you’ll find yourself constructing sentences this way out of habit.

Chances are, when you start studying Spanish, you’ll come across a number of basic words that help form the structure of a well defined sentence. While these words and their usage are no more complicated than their English versions, it’s important to be aware of them. Because Spanish is verbalized at such a high speed, you’ll often have to listen carefully for these words. The last thing you want to do is confuse words like “y” and “o”, and translate something entirely different from your original meaning!

Spanish Verb Conjugation

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

As you may be aware, Spanish verb conjugations are based on three criteria including when an action occurs and who is taking the action. In addition, when conjugating verbs, the suffix that is substituted is often spelled differently depending on the last two letters of the root verb. The chart at the end of this article is designed to give you a key to the verb endings that you will need to conjugate the majority of words in Spanish.

First Person Singular

Typically, the first person singular refers to action that is being taken, was taken, or will be taken by the speaker. For example, communicating about my personal act of writing a letter can be accomplished in a number of ways depending on the time frame. Since the root word for the verb “to write” is “escribir”, my conjugation choices would be narrowed down to the set of suffixes for verbs ending in “–ir”.

For example, for the verb “escribir”, I would remove the “-ir” ending, and add an “o” (”escribo”) to represent the first person singular in the present. If I were currently writing the letter, I would say “Yo escribo” – “I write”. On the other hand, if I wanted to convey that I’ll be writing a letter tomorrow, I would leave the verb root intact, and add é, creating the word “escribiré”.

Second Person Singular

Just like English, the second person singular refers to you as the subject. For example, “You were very thoughtful to send me flowers”. In Spanish, when the subject of the sentence refers to “you”, it will require the usage of verb endings dedicated to conveying this information. Follow the conjugation rules listed in the chart at the end of this article to modify these verbs properly.

Third Person Singular

Typically, when you see “him”, “her”, or a person’s name, this is an indication that you’ll be conjugating verbs based on reference to a third person. For example, in the sentence, “Mary opened the box yesterday”, the root form for “to open” is “abrir”. Since Mary refers to a third person performing a specific past action, “abrir” would be conjugated to “abrío”. In addition, if you are addressing someone in a formal or polite way, you would use the third person singular instead of the second person.

First Person Plural

The first person plural is often indicated by saying “we”, or “our” signifying a group of people of which you are a member. Typically, this type of verb is conjugated with the ending “-amos” or “-emos”. The phrase, “We go” would be conjugated to “Nos vamos”. As with other types of verb conjugation in Spanish, you’ll need to select from this category of suffixes in order to convey the subject to verb relationship.

Second Person Plural

The second person plural might be most often heard when addressing an audience. As an example, a teacher addressing a class of students might say “Yesterday, you learned ten new vocabulary words”. In Spanish, the second person plural can also be replaced by the third person formal to denote a formal or polite address.

Third Person Plural

Typically, the third person plural is associated with words like “they”, or “them”. For example, “They went to the store” would be translated to “Ellos van a la tienda.” It’s also appropriate to use the third person plural verb conjugation for the sentence “Mary and her brother went to the store”, since you could also use the term “they” to describe Mary and her brother.

Even though it’ll take some time before you’re able to correctly conjugate Spanish verbs on the fly, you’ll eventually find the multiple levels of meaning very useful. Among other things, as you listen to native speakers, you may well find that they will eliminate words that are already indicated by the conjugations. Once you learn to replicate this pattern, you’ll be able to understand verbal Spanish much more easily.

An Introduction to Spanish Nouns and Genders

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Much like other Romance languages, the Spanish language has a number of different ways to denote whether the subject of a sentence is male or female. In some cases, this information is conveyed by the changing the ending of a particular noun. While learning to denote gender correctly in your nouns isn’t as difficult to learn as Spanish verbs, it’s still important to make sure that you follow Spanish gender syntax correctly when forming sentences.

Spanish Nouns

Just like in English, Spanish nouns include the names of people, places, and things. If the noun refers to the specific name of an individual or location, it will be capitalized irregardless of its location in the sentence. Typically, the hardest part of learning Spanish nouns is just learning the meaning of each word as part of your vocabulary studies. Of course, you’ll likely find this to be the case in any language you study.

Denoting Gender in People

Typically, you’ll find that nouns describing male and female individuals will end in “o” for males, and “a” for females. This also applies to family relationships. As an example, “chico” and “chica” are boy and girl respectively. At the same time, “hermano” and “hermana” translate to brother and sister. In the plural form, the ending “-as” represents two or more women. On the other hand, the “-os” ending can represent males or females within the group. As an example, “hermanos” can represent brothers, or a group of siblings that also includes sisters.

Denoting Gender in Objects

Even though you may not think of a book or jigsaw puzzle as having a gender, most Spanish nouns are either male or female. Strangely enough, most words representing animals follow this gender pattern, but doesn’t change in order to specify the gender of a particular animal. For example, a jigsaw puzzle (”rompecabeza”) is considered a feminine noun because it ends with the letter “a”. On the other hand, the word for cat is “gato”. While a cat is a living organism, this Spanish noun does not change to “gata” in order to represent a female cat.

Nouns in Sentences

In some cases, you’ll find that the syntax of Spanish sentences is fairly different from what you will find in an English sentence. Among other thing, the lack of an apostrophe in Spanish often changes the way ownership is communicated. As an example, in English, we might say “Paul’s cat” in order to convey the fact that Paul owns a specific cat. On the other hand, in Spanish the sentence phrase would actually be formed as “the cat of Paul”, or “el gato de Paul”. This can take some getting used to for new Spanish speakers.

When learning Spanish, you may find that nouns are some of the most enjoyable parts of the language to work with – mostly since they don’t change in the complicated ways that the verbs do! Once you get the hang of some of the nuances of Spanish nouns, you’ll likely enjoy the fact that they adhere fairly well to the basic rules of the Spanish language. In addition, you may even find that you like the sound or spelling of a Spanish noun more than words used to represent the same object in your own language!

Learning Spanish Numbers

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Just like in English, Spanish numbers follow a set pattern of names. While these patterns aren’t difficult to learn, you’ll still need to practice them often so that you’re familiar enough to use them properly. For example, even though you might know the numbers in Spanish from 1 to 10, it’s also important to know how to refer to different number positions, such as first place or second in line.

Cardinal Numbers

As with English, the first twelve numbers in Spanish all have unique names. That said, where English begins appending the suffix “teen” for numbers thirteen through nineteen, Spanish does not apply a prefix, “diece” until the number fifteen. As a result, cardinal numbers in Spanish for one to nineteen are as follows:














































































Numbers from tweny forward are characterized by a prefix attached to the first nine numbers of the system. For example, the name for twenty is “veinte”, while twenty-one is “veintiuno”. You’ll also find that some numbers include a “y” (which translates to “and”) between the two numbers. For example, “thirty-one” is written as “treinta y uno”. Unfortunately, there are no specific rules for when this will occur. On the other hand, you should not have many problems with translating written numbers if you keep their basic names in mind. The prefixes for twenty through ninety are as follows:


































It is important to note that “cero”, the word for “zero” isn’t appended to the names of numbers such as twenty, thirty, forty and so on. Even though numerals are written in the same way as in English, the zero is written to denote a difference in factors of ten. You’ll also find that zero is used as a placeholder, just as it is in English.

Ordinal Numbers

In some cases, you may want to denote the position of an object, or an event in relation to another one – for example, “She was the first person to complete the exam”. As in English, even though “first” has a numerical connotation, it also has a different spelling and meaning from “one”. In addition, ordinal numbers are also gender specific. Therefore, you will need to change the letter “o” for an “a” when composing sentences that include female nouns. The ordinal numbers in Spanish for first through tenth positions are as follows: primero, segundo, tecero, cuarto, quinto, sexto, septimo, octavo, noveno, decimo.

Even though mathematical formulas and calculations are very similar in English and Spanish, you’ll still need to know the name of each number and how it is used. Among other things, when you’re speaking Spanish, you’ll have to use these names in order to express information about quantities, as well as the location of one item in relation to another. Of course, if you can’t remember a specific numerical name, you can always write out the cardinal numerals exactly as you would in English to get your point across.

An Introduction to Spanish Irregular Verbs

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Just like any other language, Spanish has words that don’t follow the syntax rules for other words of the same type. For example, in Spanish, most verbs are conjugated in order to communicate information about when an action took place and who took the action. While this is usually accomplished by a set of suffixes with clearly defined rules, some words don’t fit this structure. As a result, you’ll need to learn about irregular Spanish verbs and their conjugation in order to speak and understand the language properly.

Recognizing Irregular Spanish Verbs

Unless you’re very fluent in Spanish, it will be difficult at first to determine if you’re dealing with an irregular verb. If you aren’t sure, it may be helpful to look at the words in the rest of the sentence. Once you identify and translate the nouns, adjectives, and other words in the sentence, you can isolate the remaining words as potential verbs. In some cases, you may also be able to infer the meaning of the verb based on the general impression you have of sentence meaning. For example, if you were able to translate “Mary ??? the store”, you might consider “to open”, or “to go” as possible verb roots that would fit into the sentence.

Stem Changing Verbs

The majority of Spanish verbs are conjugated by removing the last two letters and substituting another suffix to change the verb tense and subject. However, occasionally you’ll encounter a stem changing verb in which the vowels change within the root of the verb. As an example, the verb “mentir” still follows the same suffix conjugation, but also includes changing the vowels from “e” to “ie”. Typically, root changes only apply to first person plural and first person singular. Depending on the verb, you may also find that the root word spelling may or may not change based on tense.

G Verbs

Depending on the verb, you may find that the letter “g” is added prior to the suffix. As with stem changing verbs, the “g” may not be added to every instance of conjugation. As an example, “tener” in the present first person singular conjugates to “tengo”, while the present third person plural becomes “tenemos”. To learn more about which verbs follow this pattern, it’s best to consult a list of irregular Spanish verbs.

Preterite Changing Stem Verbs

Typically, verbs in this class are found amongst those that are also “g” verbs. In these verbs, the past preterite tense conjugation also includes vowel changes similar to what you would find in the stem changing verbs. For example, the verb “tener” becomes “tuve” in the first person preterite tense.

Completely Irregular Verbs

As you might expect, there are some verbs that have complete changes in their stems and suffixes irregardless of the tense. As an example, the verb “ir” or “to go” bears no resemblance to its conjugated forms. Consider that in the present tense, the verb “ir” is conjugated to “voy” (first person singular), “vas” (second person singular), “va” (third person singular), “vamos” (first person plural), “vais” (second person plural), and “van” (third person plural).

Even though irregular Spanish verbs can be difficult to manage, it’s important to learn and practice using them. You’ll find that some of them, such as “ir” and “ser”, are used often in everyday language. With a little bit of practice, you should be able to use other parts of a sentence to help you locate verbs, as well as gain some ideas about the action they are describing.