Traveling is only as memorable as the people you connect with.
And if you want to build a deeper connection with anyone, you’re going to need to learn how to communicate with them in their language. If you’re traveling to South America, the best way to communicate is through using common Spanish phrases that the everyday person uses.
Spanish expressions are no different than the ones in English. They’re humorous, often have double meanings, and they vary across different countries (i.e. hey mate! versus hey man!).
Before you head off to your travels, here are 10 common Spanish phrases you must learn:
1. Que pedo?
Literal translation: What fart?
Translation: What’s up?
Pedo means “fart,” but people in South America translate this to “what’s up?” or “what’s going on?”
This is also one of the most common Spanish phrases you will hear.
We recommend using this expression around close friends you can joke around with, not a formal setting!
2. Ponte las pilas
Translation: Look alive!
If you’re an extravert, this will be a common expression you’ll be using throughout your travels to wake up your tired friends at 3AM.
Ponte las pilas can also mean “Wake up!” and is most commonly in Argentina, but can be found all around South America and even Spain.
3. Me pica el bagre
Literal Translation: The catfish is biting me.
Translation: I’m starving! or I’m very hungry!
Calling all foodies! If you’ve ever been so hungry that you could “eat a horse,” then “me pica el bagre” is the closest phrase of that expression.
4. Más se perdió en Cuba
Translation: More was lost in Cuba
This is not a stab at Cuba, but if something awful has happened to a close friend, you can comfort them by saying “más se perdió en Cuba,” which means “more was lost in Cuba.”
5. Tomar el pelo
Translation: To take hold of the hair
In English translation, thi means to “pull one’s leg,” as in “make fun of.”
When you’re joking around with your friends, this is a common phrase that will come up — especially if you don’t understand the joke itself!
6. Feliz como una lombriz
Translation: As happy as a clam
Traveling will be one of the best experiences you’ll have, and no doubt about it that you will be “feliz como una lombriz.”
Instead of the old-fashioned “estoy bien” (I’m good), you can take it up a notch and share how you truly feel!
7. ¿Qué es la cosa más loca que hace la gente de aquí?
Translation: What’s the craziest thing people do here?
You rebel, you…
If you’re feeling wild, and looking for an unforgettable night, this is the question you want to be asking the locals.
Be careful what you ask for!
8. Cuénteme más!
Translation: Tell me more!
If you’re not exactly sure how to respond to a story or interesting fact someone is sharing with you, “ cuénteme más!” is a common Spanish phrase you can use.
It will have the other person talking and feeling more connected with you, as you express your excitement.
9. ¡Qué copado!
Translation: How cool!
Many beginner Spanish speakers want to know how to say the words ‘cool’ or ‘awesome’ or ‘rad’ in Spanish. Well, perhaps not ‘rad’ in this decade…
In Argentina, your best option to exclaim your appreciation of something ‘awesome’ is the term copado.
Say it with me: ¡Qué copado!
This common word is mostly used in Argentina. In case you haven’t noticed, Argentina has a ton of slang words and expressions.
Che is a word you use with close friends, similar to the way you would say “Do you know what I mean man?”
It can also be used to call someone you know, such as “hey man!”
If you want to learn more common Spanish phrases, and become a fluent speaker for your travels , let us know in the comments below and we’ll be sure to do a Round 2 soon!
Over to you
Which of these common Spanish phrases were your favorite?
Where will you be traveling to?