For those who want a richer cultural experience and wish to converse with locals, a few choice phrases will go a long way. Even if you know some Spanish, on your next trip to Spain try these suggestions. If nothing else, it’s a show of goodwill. Suerte!
Know How to Ask for the Waiter like a Spaniard
Contrary to popular belief, the Spaniards don’t tend to say “Señor” to call the waiter or even “Oiga” as you may learn in the textbooks. Spanish people often say “perdone” which means excuse me. This should attract the attention of the waiting staff without giving you away as having just stepped off the plane.
Stop Being So Polite!
If you happen to be British, read this. Even if you’re not, then it’s still worth noting that the Spanish are very direct. Stop apologising so much and saying please and thank you quite so often. These words are used sparingly so we won’t even list them here. Thanks.
Know How to Address People Properly
Let us explain. If you speak French already you probably find this much easier but if you are a native English speaker it’s likely a little baffling. There are different ways of saying “you” depending on who you are speaking to and how old or how familiar they are. When in doubt, call everyone “usted”. “Tu” is more informal and for friends or peers. Vos is not used so much in Spain, more so in South America to address a close contact.
Know the Importance of Milk
Yes you did read that correctly. Milk has many meanings in Spanish. If you want to buy milk, it is called “leche”, but did you know that there are a number of phrases using this word? Our favourite is “tener mala Leche” or “to have bad milk”. (If someone has bad milk, it means they are a bad person or were raised badly.) Another milk-based expression is “es la leche” or “it is the milk” which means “it’s the best”.
Know the Importance of Goats
The Spanish language is extremely colourful with interesting idioms like “Estar como una cabra” or to be like a goat, which means “to be crazy.” We don’t know exactly where this phrase originated, but we love it.
You’re Probably Pronouncing “Aeropuerto” wrong.
Spanish is a phonetic language. This means it is spoken as it is written and all the syllables you see are said out-loud. Words in other languages that are similar (like airport and aeropuerto) are likely to confuse you. Don’t say “airopuerto”, blending the sound for the a and e together, but say “a-air-o-puerto”. Got it?
Be Prepared to Hear Words you Think you Know, Said Differently
This is the same with any language, but don’t laugh, get upset or get confused if you hear things said in a different way. We did warn you. Marks and Spencer (yes there is one in Marbella) is pronounced “Mari-penther”. Hotel is pronounced “otelle”, mobile phone is pronounced like “mobbill” and there are no end of other delightful interpretations of words you think you know.
For those fast-fashion addicts among us, please note Zara is actually Spanish so you are saying it wrong!
Understand the Spanish Address System
Spanish addresses follow logical patterns but tend to cause confusion to the untrained explorer. The building number comes after the street, so that part is easy enough to understand. For apartments, however, there is a new system to master. Floor numbers are shown with the degree symbol and an abbreviation of whether it’s on the right or left staircase. (Left is izquierda or “Izq.” For short and right is derecha, “Dcha.” for short.) For example, 5 ° Izq. Means fifth floor left.
And, if you don’t know which way is left or right, (especially in your native language) please ask your Swish representative.
Know How to Order a Drink like a Local
Spain is a hot country, so chances are that even if you don’t drink you will need plenty of refreshments. Read our guide to ordering drinks like a local here. Salud!
Learn How to Ask for Help When you Need it.
If you have a real crisis like a fire, a lost handbag, dog or parent then this word could come in incredibly handy. Shout “socorro!” which means help. This will get your point across and pronto.
If you enjoyed this please follow us on Instagram @swishmarbella. And, if you still need assistance on your next trip to Marbella, contact the friendly Swish Team who will be happy to speak to you in one of 8 languages.
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