Time to learn some basic Spanish!

So, you have decided to walk the Camino de Santiago.  Although it is not necessary it is a big help to know some basic Spanish.

You could go to your local Community College, or Adult education center or there are privately owned schools in some towns and cities. For instance, in Sacramento we have a fantastic Spanish school called Casa de Español They offer Spanish classes for absolute beginners to Superior for both adults and children. It is an excellent choice if you are interested in a classroom setting. The instructors are very helpful and the teaching style will have you speaking Spanish in no time. Best of all they offer classes at night since most of us are working during the day.

There are many great resources for learning Spanish both on the web and locally. We have also provided a brief list of Spanish words and phrases that may help. The Spanish people are very kind and gracious and will do their best to communicate with you as you make your pilgrimage across Spain. While it is not necessary to have proficiency in the Spanish language, having a basic grasp of the language will only serve to enhance your experience.

With that in mind here are some Apps that are available for download to learn Spanish.

  • Duolingo – This is a free app and very popular.  You can learn basic words and phrases.
  • Memrise – This is also a free app.  This app helps you to learn vocabulary in Spanish.
  • MindSnacks – Partially free but some parts require payment.
  • SpanishDict– Is an excellent, free website that has flashcards and word lookup

If you are interested in working with a Spanish tutor or professor via the internet then ItalkI is an excellent website to find a Spanish teacher, or frankly a teacher for just about any language you could imagine learning. You simply go onto the website and select the language that you wish to learn. You can even specify what country you want your teacher to be from. For instance Spain. You then search for a teacher and deposit money into your account. Once you select an instructor and schedule a lesson Italki takes care of the rest. We have community members who have been using this site for many years with great success.

100 Useful Words for the Camino Cien palabras utilas (mas o menos) para el camino.

The idea of this lexicon is that it will start you off. Hopefully, others will add useful words and phrases.

H is always silent in Spanish. J is pronounced like an aspirated Hua V is pronounced like bv but sounds more like buh to most of us extranjeros, and ll is said the ll in millions but sounds more like yuh to most of us. S is pronounced with a hiss, and never like our zed.

Accents show where to put the emphasis.

Everyone wants to know

dónde es/son? Depending on whether you are more than one.
Soy /somos de Canadá (The accent emphasizes the last letter Canadahhh)
Cómo se llama? (yah mah) What is your name?
Me llamo – My name is also Mi nombre es –
Mucho gusto – Nice to meet you. A pleasure to meet you
Encantada – Delighted “ ”
Hola (ola) hello Adios goodbye
Buenos dias good morning or good day Buenas tardes good aftertnoon
Days of the Week: lunes. martes, miércoles, jueves, viernes Sábado, Domingo
Months of the Year: enero, febreo, marzo, abril, mayo, junio, julio, agosto, septiembre, octubre, noviembre, diciembre

At La Farmacia (far ma thia) the drugstore:

Quisiera (keysee ’rah) (I would like) comprar (to buy), Por favor
Compeed – Compeed blister bandages
Aspirina – aspirin
la venda – bandage
antihistamínico – (anti eesta meen ico)
anelgésico painkiller

Phrases and words you don’t want to need:

Estoy enfermo – I am sick
tengo la nausea, vomito
Derribé I fell
Me sangra la nariz (nareeth) – my nose is bleeding.
Me torcí el tobillo (tor theee el tobil yo), la rodilla (rodil yo) –I twisted my ankle, my knee
Rompí mis gafas – I broke my glasses.
Me entró algo en el ojo (o ho) – there is something in my eye.
Me duele – (it hurts)
la cabeza, (my head)
la mano ( my hand), derecha, izquierda – right , left
la espalda (my back),
el pie (my foot),
la pierna (my leg),
la oreja (oreha) (my ear),
la nariz (my nose)
el hombro (my shoulder),
el estómago – my stomach,
el brazo (bra tho), my arm
el dedo – (my finger),
el dedo del pie, my toe,
la muñeca (moon yekka), my wrist,
la planta del pie – the sole of my foot,
el tobillo, my ankle,
el rodillo, my knee
Me duela todo – everything hurts
La receta prescription
El jarabe – syrup

Time in general:

ayer, hoy (oy, the h in Spanish is ALWAYS silent), mañana – Yesterday, today, tomorrow
esta noche, anoche – tonight, last night- mediodía noon, medianoche midnight
actual – now
es temprano – it’s early
es tarde – it’s late
Estoy atrasado – I’m late
Time by the reloj (watch/clock) Qué hora es?
Son las ochos (8 o’clock) y quarto, y medio. Son las nueves menus quarto.
Seasons – Spring, summer, fall, winter = primavera, verano, otoño, inveirno
Weather – el Tiempo:
Hace frio (athay frio) – It is cold,
Hace calor – it is hot. But Tengo calor – I am hot
Hace nubloso it’s cloudy
hace de sol -sunny
Hace viento (athay biento) – It’s windy
Lluvia (yubia) rain
Nieve (niebay) – snow
Niebla fog
Hay tormentas y mal tiempos doesn’t mean the world is going
to end only that there will be a storm.

Directions :

dónde esta………? Where is ……….? El bar, el Mercado, (more
likely el tienda – the store), el albergue peregrino . los servicios (the
A la derecha, al la izqierdo (ithkee- erdo) to the right or left
Cerca (therka)…. Near,,,
Todo recto straight on or sometimes derecho
Lejos (lehos) – far, or more likely
Muy Lejos – very far. best yet,
No muy lejos – not very far
Aqui – Here
Estoy perdido I am lost
Podría (podreeah) me ayudar? Could you help me?


Verduras greens or just vegetables
alubias – beans as in cooked from dried alubias negras – black beans
judias verdes – green beans
cebollas – (thebolyas) onions
ensalada –saladensalada
mixta (meeth ta) all kinds of things including espárragos often blancos
Salchicha – sausage
morcilla – blood sausage, specialty of Burgos
chorizo – sausage
Carne – meat
higado – liver
ternera, carne de vaca – beef asado – roast rósbif?
bistec o filete – beef steak
estofado – stew
solomillo – tenderloin steak
callos – (calyos) tripe or maybe just parts
lengua – tongue
lomo – usually de cerdo pork loin
chuleta de cerdo pork chop
costillas – spare ribs
jamon Serrano – salt cured ham
pollo – (polyo) chicken
cordero – lamb
chuletas de cordero lamb chops
conejo – rabbit
pollo- chicken
pechuga breast of chicken
Postres – dessert
Frutas – see under grocery store
torta – cake
torta de Santiago – a delicious almond cake
pastel – more cake
galleta (dulce) – cookie
natillas – custard,
helado – ice cream
Con qué está servido what comes with that?
Por favour necessito un cuchara cuchillo (coocheelyo),tenedor, el salero
una sevilleta ( serbveel yetah) ? May I please have a spoon, fork, knife,
the salt, a napkin?
Por favor qué ingredientes tiene? Please tell me what is in this.
La cuenta, por favour, senor/a. May we have the bill, please?
Tengo alergia a I have an allergy to
(If you have one find out what it is
called in Spanish BEFORE you go.)
Sin gluten – without gluten
Soy vegetenario – I am vegetarian
Soy un vegano – I am vegan

At the Bar in the Comedor (separate dining room) or Restaurante

Desayuno – breakfast, almuerzo – lunch y comida or cena (thayna)
Tengo sed I’m thirsty
Tengo hambre (am bray) I’m hungry
El menu de peregrinos special pilgrim meal. Two or three courses
usually con vino (blanco o tinto) e con pan
agua – water
vino- wine blanco o tinto
cerveza (ther bay tha)- beer – con limón beer with fizzy lemon. Very good.
coñac brandy
hielo – ice often confused with helado – ice cream
bocadillo – sandwich
sopa soup caldo – broth
tortilla – yummy omelette, usually with onions and potatoes
paella – a dish with rice, saffron, shellfish (mariscos) and sometimes
chicken – pollo
pan bread con mantequilla (mante keel yah) with butter
BUT manteca is lard
sel y pimiento salt and pepper
Mariscos – Seafood/fish
gambas – shrimp a la plancha – cooked on a grill
trucha – trout
percebes (perthebes) barnacles
vieira – (bvee ayra) scallop
los mehillónes ( mayheel yones) mussels
almejas – (al may has) clams
pulpo octopus – a specialty in Galicia and very, very good
and of course the ubiquitous merluza (merlootha) hake
cangrejo – crab
cigalas – crayfish
cazón – dogfish
caballa – mackerel
ostra – oyster
sepia, jíbia – cuttle fish
atún or bonita –tuna and fish like tuna that is very good
caracol – snail

Finding a Place to Stay

At the Albergue del peregrinos, hostal, hotel,
Quisiera (keysee ‘rah) I would like una cama a bed, una habitacione
(abee tathione)
Hay cama ? (aye) Are there any beds/ Do you have a bed (for me)?
Si Yes No No
Con baño – with a bath- hotels only
Con agua caliente (hot water) – at the albergue
Solo agua frio (only cold water) – at some albergues
Cuanto cuesta? Ho much does it cost?
Uno, dos,tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez, once, doce
trece, catorce, quince, dieciséis, diecisiete, dieciocho, dieci nueve
veinte (bentay – 20), treinta (30) , cuarenta (40) cincuenta (50) sesenta
(60), setenta( 70), ochenta (80), noventa (nobenta 90) cien (thien 100)
Euros (eh oo ros)
Some Extra vocabulary for the albergue
Quiero ayudar – I would like to help.
Dónde está – where is
la fregona, (the mop),
el cubo (the pail),
la escoba (the broom)?

At the Store: A la Tienda

NB never la gróseria which means vulgar person
Two very important words for stores, and bars:
abierto open, cerrado closed/pechado in Galicia
Quisiera (keysee ’rah) (I would like) Comprar (to buy) Por favour,
cevezas -cherries
ciruela – plum ciruela seca – prune
melocotón peach
fresas – strawberries
higo (ee go) – fig
la mazana (manthana) – apple
membrillo – quince
naranja – orange zumo (thoo moh) – juice
plátano – (plah tano) banana
oovas – (ou-bvas) the grapes
Verdura – vegetable
aguacate – avocado
el ajo – (a ho) garlic
las patatas – potatoes
lechuga – lettuce
espinaca- spinach
pepino – cucumber
pimentón – sweet peppers
zanahoria – carrot
apio – celery
pan – bread
leche – milk leche desnatada – skimmed
nata – cream,
queso – cheese,
yogur – yoghurt,
almendras almonds, very good in Spain
castaña – chestnut
cacahuete – peanut
aceitunas – (athetoonas) olives , con anchoa very good
aceite de oliva – olive oil
vinagre – (beenagreh) vinegar
huevos – eggs huevo duro hard boiled
sacacorchos – a corkscrew
abrelatas – can opener
champú – shampoo
jabón – (ha bone) soap to wash you.. en polvo – powdered for your clothes
pasta de dientes – toothpaste
cepillo de dientes– toothbrush
hilo dental – dental floss
desodorante – deoderant

There are many word in Spanish that sound just like the word in English – same root, so your vocabulary is already bigger than you might think it is. There are others, however, that are completely different. A few that you might like to avoid.

in Spanish
Actualmente = currently, presently, now & really = en realidad
Advertencia = warning or advisory & advertisement = anuncio
Asistir = attend & assist = ayudar
Bizarro = brave & bizarre = extraño or estrafalario
Carpeta = file, folder, portfolio & Carpet = alfombra
Delito = crime, offence & delighted = encantado
Educado = well-mannered, polite & educated = con estudios
Embarazada = pregnant & embarassed = (sentirse) avergonzado
En absolute = absolutely not & absolutely= totalmente
estar constipado = to have a cold & constipated = estar estreñido
Éxito = success & Exit = salida
Largo = long & Large = grande
Librería = bookstore & Library = biblioteca
Nombre = name & Number = número
Pretender = want & Pretend = fingir
Raro = strange & Rare = poco común
Recordar = remember & Record = grabar
Ropa = clothes, clothing & Rope = cuerda, soga
Sensible = sensitive & Sensible = sensato
Sopa = soup & Soap = jabón
Vaso = glass & Vase = florero