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Learn conversational Spanish: Useful phrases

You’ve spent some time learning Spanish at one school or another, but you’ve never had a real Spanish conversation. Finally, you decide to travel to Spain where you’ll make new friends, meet new people, and practice your speaking skills…
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Suddenly, you get introduced to someone. How do you respond?

Today you have the chance to find out! Read on to get started with your conversational Spanish classes, so you can go anywhere and meet anyone.

Meeting someone for the first time

If you’re in a more formal context, the most common thing to say is buenos días, buenas tardes or buenas noches (depending on what time of day it is: morning, afternoon, or night, respectively).

However, if you’re in a more casual situation, you can choose to say ¡hola! (hello!), ¿qué tal? (how’s it going?), or ¿cómo estás? (how are you?), or go ahead and introduce yourself by saying me llamo… (my name is…) o yo soy… (I’m…). Once you’ve exchanged names, it’s appropriate to say encantado de conocerte (nice to meet you).

Now that you’ve cleared the first hurdle, it’s time to learn a bit more about the person.

Getting to know each other

Depending on where you’ve met the person you’re talking to, you may decide to take one approach or another. There’s a difference between meeting a friend of a friend, a work colleague, a classmate, or someone at a bar…

If you feel comfortable with the person, you could ask them ¿por qué zona vives? (whereabouts do you live?) or ¿a qué te dedicas? (what do you do?), which is very similar to ¿en qué trabajas? (what do you do for work?). If you’re in a casual setting, you can find out someone’s age by asking ¿cuántos años tienes? (how old are you?), but that’s never an appropriate question in a work environment!

Another option would be to provide this type of information about yourself before asking the other person: vivo… (I live…) en la calle de al lado (on the next street over) / a dos calles de aquí (two streets away) / en la otra punta de la ciudad (on the other side of town) or trabajo en… (I work in…) or tengo...años (I’m … years old).

Starting a conversation with someone you’ve already met

When you already know the other person or you see them every day, you can start off the conversation by asking them about their day with a ¿qué tal te va el día? (how’s your day going?) or asking how they are with a ¿qué tal estás? (how are you doing?) / ¿cómo estás? (how are you?).

At this point, you can start using all the Spanish you’ve learned in class to keep the conversation rolling and speak with anyone you’d like!