A couple of weeks ago I asked the following question on Facebook:
If you could only learn 5 Spanish words or phrases for the Camino, what would they be?
I got many answers. The 2 most popular words were por favor (please) and gracias (thank you), closely followed by ¿Cuánto cuesta? (How much is it?) and vino tinto (red wine). Vino blanco (white wine) was a bit less popular.
After those, there were many different suggestions that I’ll try to organise. These are your words:
Buen Camino. This doesn’t need a translation, right?
Hola (hello) can be used any time of the day.
Buenos días (good morning). This one is specifically for the morning, which technically ends at midday, but in Spain we stretch it till lunchtime; Spanish lunchtime, that is. After 13.30-14.00 (1.30-2.00pm) you can start saying buenas tardes (good afternoon/evening) until around 21.00 (9.00pm). Then you can say buenas noches (good evening/night). For pronunciation and to learn more about different customs regarding greetings, check the second part of my interview with Kelli.
Food and drink
Next in popularity after vino tinto and vino blanco were café con leche and café americano. Cerveza (beer) came in third position.
Tortilla (potato omelette) was the only food mentioned. For the pronunciation and the recipe, check this post.
¿Tiene una cama para esta noche? (Do you have a bed for tonight?)
Habitación privada (private room)
You can also combine both and say ¿Tiene una habitación privada (para esta noche)? (Do you have a private room (for tonight)?).
¿Habla inglés? (Do you speak English?).
Más despacio, por favor (more slowly, please). Very handy when someone is talking to you and you need them to slow down in order to understand what they are saying.
¿Dónde está…? (Where is…?). Check my interview with Susan Jagannath for more on this.
¿Cuándo es la próxima misa? (When is the next mass?).
¿A qué hora es la cena? (At what time is dinner?). You can use this in albergues that serve communal dinners as well as in restaurants.
Necesito una bolsa de hielo (I need a bag of ice). Or just necesito (I need) + whatever it is you need.
¿Dónde está el baño? (Where is the toilet?). This particular phrase proved to be quite controversial, with people arguing what the right word for “toilet” is. The truth is that there are 4 words I can think of you can use for toilet:
First of all, we have cuarto de baño, which is a bathroom with toilet, sink and bath/shower, so we would NOT use this for the toilets in a café, for instance.
However, the short version baño means bathroom too but it has some extra meanings: it can also be a bath (as in taking a bath or even a swim), bathtub or toilets. All of these definitions are included in the dictionary; don’t let anyone correct you!
Servicio, aseo and lavabo are 3 more words that can be used to refer to toilets in public places. I’m not sure if there is a regional preference, but I can guarantee that they are all valid and all in use.
Aseo means cleanliness or cleaning in general; or a “bathroom” with just a toilet and sink, but no bath/shower.
Servicio means service, in general. It can be used in other contexts, not just when talking about toilets.
Finally, a lavabo is the type of sink you can find in bathrooms/toilets. By extension, we use this word to refer to toilets in public places.
Would you like to add anything to this list? You can leave your suggestions in a comment!
¿Tiene una cama para esta noche?
Más despacio, por favor
Necesito una bolsa de hielo
¿A qué hora es la cena?
¿Cuándo es la próxima misa?
Cuarto de baño
Make sure you don’t miss any posts by subscribing for free here. That way, when a new post is out, you will get it in your inbox. And… you get access to exclusive content too.