Toledo Spain old town cityscape at the Alcazar

Common Spanish Phrases to Know Before Visiting Spain

This is it! It is finally here! Your trip to Spain that you have always dreamed of is finally about to become a reality. Although you have always dreamed of going, you never thought it would actually happen. Therefore, you are looking for a crash course in common Spanish phrases to know before visiting Spain. Well, you are in luck, because CORE languages has just the very thing for you! A whole level A1 Spanish course FOR FREE! You should probably start with the greetings in Spanish though, since you should be greeting shop owners as you enter their souvenir stores. 

Toledo, Spain old town cityscape at the Alcazar.

Cultural Context

You can know the most Spanish phrases in the world, but if you do not know basic cultural norms of Spain, speaking the language will mean nothing. For example, when greeting friends and family, you would use hola which means hi or hello. When greeting someone you do not know or in formal contexts, you should use buenos días (good morning), buenas tardes (good afternoon/good evening), or buenas noches (good night).

The next cultural bit is el beso or cheek kiss. The good news for you is that you likely will not be required to participate in this cultural greeting. The greeting kiss is typically done between friends and family between women, women and men, but not men with men. They give an air kiss on both cheeks accompanied with verbal Spanish greetings. This is different than in most of Latin America, where they greet with a kiss on one cheek. Thankfully for you, more formal settings (i.e., between business partners or between strangers) require handshakes with your verbal formal greeting. BUT do not be surprised as you build your rapport with your clients or business partners, if they start to bypass the handshake with the greeting kisses!

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Los saludos – Greetings

Greetings in Spain are very important in Spanish culture. Below you will find a list of common Spanish greetings that are used in a variety of social settings. As you study each expression, you should try to connect it to an English word that will help you remember the meaning of the Spanish word. For example, buenos días means good morning, so you could connect día to day to connect it to the expression good day aka good morning. The connection can be silly and far-fetched, but it needs to make sense to you so that you can remember the Spanish word and its meaning. You will notice that questions and exclamatory sentences will start with an upside punctuation and end with the punctuation right side up. This signals the intonation you should use from the very beginning of the sentence.

Spanish Expression


¡Buenos días!

Good morning!

¡Buenas tardes!

Good afternoon/ Good evening!

¡Buenas noches!

Good night!




Hello? (on phone)





¡Hasta luego!

See you later!

¡Hasta pronto!

See you soon!

¡Hasta la próxima!

See you next time!

¡Hasta mañana!

See you tomorrow!



Introductory Questions

Below you will find a list of the most common introductory questions to use in various social contexts. The social contexts are formal (with elderly people or very formal situations) and informal. These are also known as polite Spanish phrases and casual Spanish phrases. Allowing the usual of informal speech with someone you have just met is a cultural practice specific to Spain. In other Spanish-speaking countries, formal questions are used with anyone who is not friends or family. If someone in Spain tells you puedes tutearme, it means they want you to use the informal expression with them. 

Spanish Expression


¿Cómo está usted? 

use with elderly and in very formal contexts

How are you?

¿Cómo estás?


How are you?

Estoy bien/mal

formal or informal

I’m doing well/unwell

¿Cómo te llamas?


What’s your name?

¿Cómo se llama usted?

use with elderly and in very formal contexts

What’s your name?

Me llamo

Formal or Informal

My name is


(based on gender of speaker, male/female)

Nice to meet you



Other Key Expressions

Spanish Expression






Thank you

De nada

You’re welcome


The best way to solidify new language vocabulary is through practice. Access our website for free videos, writing activities, and additional links to do some more practice. If you would like a teacher to teach you more Spanish words or basic Spanish phrases before your trip to Spain, check out our online classes.

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