Spanish Words & Phrases for Travelers in Colombia

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Colombian Spanish is known for being the clearest in the world, so it’s no wonder travelers flock here looking to brush up on their foreign language skills. While there are plenty of great Spanish schools across the country, here are a few important words and phrases to get you chatting with people in the street and feeling like a local. 

Greetings

By Eduardo Dorantes

Hola – Hello/hi

Buenos días – Good morning

Buenas tardes – Good afternoon

Buenas noches – Good evening

Tenga un buen día – Have a good day

Que estés muy bien – Take care (use at the end of a conversion/transaction)

Chao – Bye

Hasta luego – See you later

Adios – Goodbye (more formal or final)

Cual es tu nombre?/Como te llamas? – What is your name?

De donde eres? – Where are you from?

En qué trabajas? – What do you work as?

Cuántos años tienes? – How old are you?

Como estás?/Que tal?/Como te va? – How are you?

 

Basics

‘More Love Please’ By Mcml

– Yes

No – No

Tal vez/Quizás – Maybe

Bueno – OK/good

Listo – OK/ready

Claro que sí – Of course

Perdón – Sorry/excuse me

Lo siento – Sorry (stronger than ‘perdón’)

(Con) permiso – excuse me (used to move past someone)

Con (mucho) gusto – You’re (very) welcome

Bien pueda – Go ahead

Muchas/muchísimas/mil gracias – thank you (very much/so much)

No hay problema – no problem

Tranquila/o – Don’t worry/relax

Acá/Aquí – Here

Allí, Allá – There

Derecha – Right

Izquierda – Left

Derecho – Straight

Pare – Stop

Salud – Cheers

Extranjera/o – A foreigner (gender specific)

Tengo una pregunta – I have a question

Lindo/linda – sweet, cute, pretty (used to describe people and objects/experiences)

Amiga/o – Friend/mate

 

Talking about yourself

By Delaney Turner

Soy de… – I am from…

               Estados Unidos – USA

               El Reino Unido – UK

               Alemania – Germany

               Holanda – Holland

               Italia – Italy

               Francia – France

               España – Spain

Mi nombre es/Me llamo – My name is

Tengo… años – I am… years old

Soy una/un… – I am a… (used for profession, the article is normally dependent on your gender)

Estoy viajando en Colombia por… días/semanas/meses – I am traveling in Colombia for… days/weeks/months

No hablo español – I don’t speak Spanish

Mi español no es bueno – My Spanish isn’t very good

Hablo un poco español – I speak a little Spanish

Ya la/lo conozco – I have already been to …/I already know… (use only for places and people)

Quiero conocer… – I want to visit…

Me encanta… – I love… (for places or things, not people)

No me gusta – I don’t like

Estoy… – I am (use for feelings, temporary states)

               Muy bien – Very well

               Feliz – Happy

               Triste – Sad

               Cansada/o – Tired

               Enojada/o – Angry

               Emocianada/o – Excited

               Confundida/o – Confused

Tengo hambre – I am hungry

No entiendo – I don’t understand

Tengo guayabo – I am hungover

Estoy perdida/o – I am lost

No tengo dinero/plata – I don’t have money

Voy a… – I am going to… (can be used for physical locations as well as actions)

Vamos a… – We are going to…

Vámonos – Let’s go/hurry up

 

In a restaurant/café/bar

By Kevin Curtis

Me regalas – Can I have? (literally translates to ‘you gift me’, only used in Colombia)

Me gustaría – I would like

(Yo) quiero – I want (use with ‘por favor’ to be polite)

Tienes…? – Do you have?

Dos cervezas por favor – Two beers please

Disculpe – excuse me (use to get a member of staff’s attention)

Podemos ver la carta? – Can we see the menu?

Una mesa para cuatro personas por favor – A table for four people please

Necesitamos cinco minutos mas – We need five more minutes

Hay platos sin… – Are there dishes without…?

Tienes opciones para vegetarianos? – Do you have vegetarian options?

Soy alérgica/o a… – I am allergic to…

Donde están los baños? – Where are the bathrooms?

La comida es muy picante? – Is the food spicy?

Que rico/delicioso – Very tasty/delicious (‘rico’ is also used to describe things other than food as good or cool)

Puedo pagar con tarjeta/efectivo? – Can I pay with card/cash?

La cuenta por favor – The bill please

 

Questions

By Carolina Mogollon

Me entiendes? – Do you understand me?

Donde está… – Where is…?

El hostel/hotel/apartmento – The hostel/hotel/apartment

El aeropuerto – The airport

El terminal de transporte – The bus station

Cual es la dirección? – What is the address?

Como llegamos allá? – How do we get there?

Cuánto vale/Cuánto cobra/Cuánta cuesta? – How much? (use for asking the price of something)

Qué significa? – What does it mean?

Cómo se dice…? – How do you say…?

Por favor, otra vez? – Again, please (use when asking someone to repeat something)

Tienes recomendaciones por acá? – Do you have recommendations for here?

A cuántos minutos es? – How far away is it?

Estamos cerca de…? – Are we close to..?

A qué hora? – At what time?

Conoces a…? – Do you know…? (use only for places and people)

Sabes si hay…? – Do you know if there is… (use only for information)

En serio? – Really?

Quieres una bebida? – Do you want a drink?

Tienes una novia/un novio? – Do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend?

 

Paisa slang (used in Antioquia, Caldas, Risaralda and Quindío)

By Andres Alagon

Parce/Parcera/o – Hommie

De una – OK/let’s do it

Dale – OK

Bien o qué?/Bien o no? – How are you?

Vos – You (informal and singular, essentially a whole other conjugation meaning ‘tú’)

Hágale pues – Go ahead/do it

Pues – Well (is often a meaningless addition, use it at the end of any sentence and it’ll make sense)

Qué pena – sorry

Qué más? – What’s up? (use informally as a greeting)

Manejas…? – Do you have? (the verb ‘manejar’ literally means to drive but can be used in this context with paisas)

Bacano – cool/good (normally expressed as ‘que bacano’)

M’ija/o – friend/mate (literally translates to ‘my daughter/son’ but can be used among friends in a light-hearted way)

No des papaya – Don’t give papaya (papaya is a Colombian fruit but the expression is a warning not to be taken advantage of. For example, leaving your phone on a table in a busy nightclub is giving papaya because it’s likely to be stolen)

Hacer una vaca – an expression for a group to split/share the costs (literally means to ‘make a cow’ but is essentially like ‘going Dutch’ for more than two people)

Mona/o – a blond person

Mañé – tacky

Paila – bad luck/out of options (said with a hand action where people tap the side of their neck with a straight hand)

 

When speaking Spanish, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and remember to be patient with yourself. Colombians will appreciate any effort you make to interact, so don’t be shy asking for help or how to pronounce things. Buena suerte!

Something missing from this list? Let us know in the comments!

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