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10 Common Expressions in Spain That You Never Learned in School

1. ¡Qué guay!

Meaning: How cool!

(Pronouned: “Gwhy”)

English has dozens of words to describe how totally kick-ass something is: Cool, sick, awesome, amazing, groovy, killer, legit, dashing, splendid. Spanish has significantly less, and you will here the word “guay” used all the time to describe anything remotely thrilling.

It also means that Uruguay and Paraguay are the envy of all cool Spaniards.

Un mono te ha robado la manzana en Gibraltar? ¡Que guay! A monkey stole your apple in Gibraltar? How cool!

2. Vale

Meaning: “OK”

You will hear this word every single day in Spain. Some Spaniards toss this word in between every breath and even say it several times in a row. Also used are “OK” and “de acuerdo.”

Me voy, vale? Vale, te vas también? Vale vale vale. I’m leaving, OK? OK, are you leaving too? OK OK OK.

3. Venga

Meaning: Come on, alright

This word is sometimes used in combination with the word “vale,” and it’s often used toward the end of a conversation. 

Vale. Venga. Adios. OK. Alright. Bye.

4. No pasa nada

Meaning: No worries, not a big deal

This literally means “Nothing happens,” and it’s used to reassure someone that there is no problem.  

No puedes salir anoche? Vale, no pasa nada. You can´t go out tonight? OK, no worries.

5. ¿Qué hay?

Meaning: What’s up?

As much as “¿Cómo estás?” gets drilled into Spanish learners’ heads, it is much more common to hear “¿Que tal?” or “¿Que hay?” in Spain.

Hola Paco. ¿Qué hay? Hello Paco. What’s up?

6. ¿Cuánto tiempo llevas aqui?

Meaning: How long have you been here?

This saying literally means “How much time do you carry here?” 

Pareces portuguesa. ¿Cuánto tiempo llevas aquí? You look Portuguese. How long have you been here?

7. Hombre

Meaning: (Interjection)

Hombre is an interjection Spaniards spice into sentences. It´s used in a similar way that English speakers use the words like “Well, hey, sure, of course, dude.”

Sí, hombre, que no estoy seguro. Yes, well, I’m not sure

8. Puente

Meaning: Long holiday weekend

“Puente” literally means “bridge” and it’s used to describe those glorious three-day or four-day weekends.

Vamos a la playa el jueves porque tenemos puente este fin de semana. We’re going to the beach on Thursday because we have a three day weekend this weekend.

9. Tío/Tía

Meaning: Dude

This can be a confusing term to foreigners, because “tio” and “tia” are the Spanish words for “uncle” and “aunt,” respectively. But Spaniards never make the mistake of thinking they’ve just encountered long-lost family members.

Qué tal, tío? What’s up, dude?

10. Guiri

Meaning: Foreigner

“Guiri” is Spain’s rough equivalent to Mexico’s “gringo.”  It’s used specifically to describe foreigners from Northern Europe and North America, but it can also be used to describe any foreigner.

No quiero ser la única guiri en la clase de Zumba. I don´t want to be the only foriegner at Zumba class.

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One Response to 10 Common Expressions in Spain That You Never Learned in School

  1. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas November 6, 2013 at 11:28 PM #

    I made the mistake of calling a computer a computadora. I was laughed right out of the locutorio! Spain is different.

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