Cheat Sheet

Spanish For Dummies (UK Edition)

Learning a foreign language is an exciting and challenging experience. Here you will find words of wisdom on everything from learning the Spanish alphabet to conjugating regular verbs… and much else in between.

Asking Key Questions in Spanish

When learning the Spanish language, asking another person for something could seem daunting, but you can get by in most situations by using just these eight questions:

  • ¿Quién? (kee-ehn) (Who?)

  • ¿Qué? (keh) (What?)

  • ¿Dónde? (dohn-deh) (Where?)

  • *¿Cuándo? (koo-ahn-doh) (When?)

  • ¿Por qué? (pohr keh) (Why?)

  • ¿Cómo? (koh-moh) (How?)

  • ¿Cuánto? (koo-ahn-toh) (How much/many?)

  • ¿Cuál? (koo-ahl) (Which?)

Practising Your Spanish ABCs

To learn a new language you need to develop a foundation of skills and then build upon that foundation. One of the first skills to master is learning the alphabet. Here is the Spanish alphabet, together with the pronunciation of each letter.

a (ah) b (beh) c (theh) d (deh)

e (eh) f (eh-feh) g (Heh) h (ah-cheh)

i (ee) j (Hoh-tah) k (kah) l (eh-leh)

m (eh-meh) n (eh-neh) ñ (eh-nyeh) o (oh)

p (peh) q (koo) r (eh-reh) s (eh-seh)

t (teh) u (oo) v (oo-beh) w (doh-bleh oo-beh) or (oo-beh doh-bleh)

x (eh-kees) y (ee gree-eh-gah) z (theh-tah)

Seven Ways to Say 'How Are You' in Spanish

‘How are you?’ is one of the most common ways to start a conversation. Here are seven different ways in which you can say ‘How are you?’ in Spanish:

  • ¿Qué pasa? (keh pah-sah) (What’s up? [literally: what’s going on?]) (informal)

  • ¿Cómo van las cosas? (koh-moh bahn lahs koh-sahs) (How are things [going]?)

  • ¿Cómo está usted? (koh-moh ehs-tah oos-tehd) (How are you?) (formal)

  • ¿Cómo estás? (koh-moh ehs-tahs) (How are you?) (informal)

  • ¿Qué tal? (keh tahl) (How are things? [literally: how such?])

  • ¿Cómo andas? (koh-mo ahn-dahs) (How are you doing? [literally: how are you walking?])

  • ¿Qué hay? (keh aheeh) (What’s new? [literally: what is there?])

Conjugating Regular Verbs in Spanish

Regular verbs in Spanish end in -ar, -er or -ir. To conjugate them, in the present tense, you take off those endings (-ar, -er or -ir) from the infinitive form and add any of the following endings to the root:

-ar -er -ir
Person Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
I, we -o -amos -o -emos -o -imos
you, you all -as -áis -es -éis -es -ís
he/she, it they -a -an -e -en -e -en

Useful Spanish Expressions

This list gives you 11 of the most commonly used Spanish phrases to master. Many of these can come up in the course of a conversation, so make a point of knowing them.

  • ¡Hola! (oh-lah) (Hello!)

  • ¡Qué tal! (keh tahl) (Hi! [literally: how are things?!])

  • ¡Buenos días! (boo-eh-nohs dee-ahs) (Good morning!)

  • ¡Buenos tardes! (boo-eh-nahs tahr-dehs) (Good afternoon!)

  • ¡Buenas noches! (boo-eh-nahs noh-chehs) (Good evening!)

  • ¡Hasta luego! (ahs-tah loo-eh-goh) (See you later!)

  • ¡Adiós! (ah-dee-ohs) (Goodbye! Bye!)

  • ¡Aquí tienes! (ah-kee tee-eh-nehs) (Here you are!)

  • ¿Por favor? (pohr fah-bohr) (Please?)

  • ¡Gracias! (grah-theeahs) (Thanks!)

  • ¡Lo siento! (loh see-ehn-toh) (I’m sorry!)

Useful Questions to Be Able to Ask in Spanish

Even if you may not want to become fully fluent in the language, certain questions are always worth memorising if you’re visiting Spain or in the company of Spanish speakers:

  • ¿Habla inglés? (ah-blah een-glehs) (Do you speak English?)

  • ¿Me podría ayudar, por favor? (meh poh-dree-ah ah-yoo-dahr pohr fah-bohr) (Would you help me please?)

  • ¿Dónde están los servicios? (dohn deh ehs-tahn lohs sehr-bee-thee-ohs) (Where are the toilets?)

  • ¿Cuánto es? (koo-ahn-toh ehs) (How much is that?)

  • Dónde puedo encontrar. . .? (dohn-deh poo-eh-doh ehn-kohn-trahr. . .) (Where can I find. . .?)

  • ¿A qué hora abren? (ah keh oh-rah ah-brehn) (At what time do you open?)

  • ¿A qué hora cierran? (ah keh oh-rah thee-eh-rrahn) (What time do you close?)

  • ¿Podría hablar un poco más despacio? (poh-dree-ah ah-blahr oon poh-koo mahs dehs-pah-theeoh) (Can you talk a bit slower?)

  • ¿Podría repetir, por favor? (poh-dree-ah rreh-peh-teer pohr fah-bohr) (Can you repeat that please?)

Very Formal Introductions in Spanish

Just as with English speakers, Spanish speakers introduce each other differently according to whether a formal or informal approach is needed. Use these phrases when being introduced to an important or famous person:

  • ¿Me permite presentarle a. . .? (meh pehr-mee-teh preh-sehn-tahr-leh ah) (May I introduce. . .?)

  • Es un gusto conocerle. (ehs oon goos-toh koh-noh-thehr-leh) (It’s a pleasure to meet you.)

  • El gusto es mío. (ehl goos-toh ehs mee-oh) (The pleasure is mine.)

Spanish Words for When You Need Help

Everyone needs a bit of help at times, and sometimes you need it quite urgently. Knowing these few words enables you to get attention should something bad happen.

Following are some basic distress-signalling words:

  • ¡Socorro! (soh-koh-rroh) (Help!)

  • ¡Auxilio! (ah-ook-see-leeoh) (Help!)

  • ¡Ayúda! (ah-yoo-dah) (Help me!)

  • ¡Rápido! (rah-pee-doh!) (Quick)

Here are useful Spanish words to know if you meet with fire, flood or some other disaster:

  • ¡Fuego! (fooeh-goh) (Fire!)

  • ¡Una Inundación! (oo-nah ee-noon-dah-thee-ohn) (Flooding!)

  • ¡Un Temblor! (oon tehm-blohr) (Earth tremor!)

  • ¡Un Terremoto! (oon teh-rreh-moh-toh) (Earthquake!)

When giving a warning, shout:

  • ¡Cuidado! (kooee-dah-doh) (Watch out!/Be careful!)

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