Bargaining at a Traditional Spanish Market

5 of 7 in Series: The Essentials of Shopping in Spanish-Speaking Countries

Knowing how to bargain for goods when you’re shopping at a traditional Spanish market can help you get the best merchandise at the best price. Bargaining, or haggling, is a negotiation tactic that many people are unaccustomed to, but these tips will have you bartering like a pro in no time.

If you shop in traditional Spanish markets, you should get there early. Many merchants feel that they must make a first sale to kick off their day. If you find yourself in such a situation, you may notice that the merchant doesn’t want you to leave without buying something and is therefore more willing to reduce the price to make a sale, and you can end up with a bargain.

Basic Spanish bargaining phrases

The following phrases can help you when you need to haggle in the market place:

  • ¿Cuánto cuesta? (kooahn-toh kooehs-tah) (How much is it?)

  • ¿Cuánto vale? (kooahn-toh bvah-leh) (How much is it worth?)

  • ¿A cuánto? (ah kooahn-toh) (How much?)

  • Es barato. (ehs bvah-rah-toh) (It’s cheap/inexpensive.)

  • Es caro. (ehs kah-roh) (It’s expensive.)

Bargaining at its best

Are you ready to bargain? Use these phrases to try it out:

Shopper:

Este tapete, ¿cuánto cuesta?
ehs-teh tah-peh-teh kooahn-toh kooehs-tah
How much is this rug?

Merchant:

Quinientos pesos.
kee-neeehn-tohs peh-sohs
Five hundred pesos.

Shopper:

¿Tiene otros más baratos?
teeeh-neh oh-trohs mahs bvah-rah-tohs
Do you have cheaper ones?

Merchant:

Tengo este, más pequeño.
tehn-goh ehs-teh mahs peh-keh-nyoh
I have this smaller one.

Shopper:

No me gusta el dibujo.
noh meh goos-tah ehl dee-bvoo-Hoh
I don’t like the pattern.

Merchant:

Este en blanco y negro, a trescientos.
ehs-teh ehn bvlahn-koh ee neh-groh ah trehs-seeehn-tohs
This black and white one, for three hundred.

Shopper:

Me gusta. ¿A doscientos?
meh goos-tah ah dohs-seeehn-tohs
I like it. Two hundred?

Merchant:

No puedo. Doscientos cincuenta. Último precio.
noh pooeh-doh dohs-seeehn-tohs seen-kooehn-tah ool-tee-moh preh-seeoh
I can’t. Two hundred and fifty. Last price.

Shopper:

Bueno, me lo llevo.
bvooeh-noh meh loh yeh-bvoh
Good. I’ll take it.

Adding a little fun to bargaining

Use these phrases to provide emphasis. You don’t need to use these all the time, especially the second and third ones, but they’re fun to use and help you express a certain level of emotion:

  • ¡Una ganga! (oo-nah gahn-gah) (A bargain!)

  • ¡Un robo! (oon roh-bvoh) (A burglary!)

  • ¡Un asalto! (oon ah-sahl-toh) (A holdup!)

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