Spanish “Stuff” to Know

This is a random collection of words, phrases, and a couple other quirks about Spain that will help you act and sound more like a local. This isn’t your typical list of “survival phrases,” as I’m hoping most people know how to say “hola” and “¿dondé está el baño?” (Although, it’s much better to say “¿Dónde están los servicios?” as baño pretty much means where’s the shitter?) Anyways, carry on! 

No pasa nada = Kind of like Hakuna Matata. It means no worries!

It’s usually a response to “I’m sorry.” If you bump into someone, get lost and show up late, etc…Spanish people are very laid back so 9 x out of 10 they’re understanding if something goes wrong and no pasa nada 🙂

Naranjas = Oranges.

In Spain, oranges cure all. Cold? Eat an orange. Headache? Come una naranja. Feeling sad? There’s an orange for that. Just go with it.

Más pan = More bread.

Spanish people love bread, yet they’re still so skinny. Some things just don’t make sense. They eat bread with everything. Picos (little breadsticks) are pretty much served at every restaurant, and a meal isn’t complete without a piece of bread. They like to dip the bread in soup, sauce, anything really. If there’s nothing to wet the bread, then it’s just not right. Would you like more bread? The answer is yes. Always yes.

Coger = to get or catch.

In Mexican & South American Spanish this is a very derogatory verb, but in Spain, it’s used ALL THE TIME. Spaniards coger everything. Coger the bus/train, coger the ticket, coger a cold, coger the phone. This goes on and on. When in doubt, use this verb.

Piropos = Cat calls.

If you’re a girl, get used to these. Boys will stare at you, whistle, and shout things you probably won’t even understand. Guapa guapa guapa. Starts out flattering, ends horribly. Wear headphones if you’re blonde.

Vale = Okay.

This is a need to know word. You don’t realize how often you use the word okay until you find yourself nodding and saying “sí” all of the time. Although “OK” is pretty universal, you’ll sound more Spanish if you get used to the “vale” way of life.

Tapear = To go for tapas.

Tapas are a big deal in Spain so much that they have their own verb.

Tío/Tía = Dude/Chick. Not to be confused with uncle/aunt.

¿Qué pasa tío? The informal way to address your friends in Spain.

Guiri = foreigner/tourist.

If you hear this word around you, the Spaniards are probably talking about you. Try not to take pictures with an iPad or carry a money pouch. Dress nicely, too.

Tener la papa = be wasted and/or shitfaced.

It literally means “to have the potato”. Translation? When people are drunk it’s like their mouth is filled with potatoes because they can’t exactly talk/function. Get it? Note: Spaniards don’t get blackout in public. You shouldn’t either.

¿Que te/le pongo? Me pone… = What can I get for you? I would like…

The correct way to order food and drinks in Spain.

No ni ná/Anda que no = ???

One of my personal favorites, since I’m so sarcastic. I’m not exactly sure of the best way to put it into English words, so I’ll give you an example:

Imagine a 100 degree day in Sevilla…

Person 1: “No hace mucho calor”

Person 2: “No ni ná.” (sarcastically saying not at all – even though what you really mean is you’re sweating to death – it’s 3 negations, which actually make it a strong affirmation that it is, in fact, sweltering.)

 Example #2

Person 1: “No voy a beber mucho alcohol esta noche.”

Person 2: No ni ná. (Meaning you’re probably going to drink a lot of alcohol that night).

Basically, No ni ná is used in a sarcastic way to emphasize something (that someone else is saying/denying). It’s a little confusing. Practice makes perfect.

Que te callas (callarse) = Shut up!

Pretty self-explanatory. And totally acceptable to say in Spanish schools to a class full of rowdy students. FYI

De puta madre vs. tu puta madre = fucking awesome vs. you mother fucker.

Warning: Do NOT get these two mixed up. They pretty much sound the exact same, and mean complete opposites. Ten cuidado aka be careful.

Bonus: Another way to say something is amazing or “the shit” = “Es la leche” or “Es la polla.”

Todoterreno = all terrain.

Type of vehicle (four-wheel), but more commonly used to describe people who are good at everything.

Hacer una muñeca = to poop.

Literal translation = to make a little doll. Gross, but basically our version of take a shit or drop the kids off at the pool. You get the picture.

Da igual vs me da igual = It doesn’t matter/makes no difference/same to me.

Basically, they both mean “I don’t care,” buttttt saying Me da igual” implies that you’re mad (and that you probably do, in fact, care)

!No me digas! = No way! You’re kidding.

If somebody tells you something you are surprised to hear, this is the correct way to respond.

¡Empieza ya o el público se va! = Start already!

If people are waiting for a show/play/concert or anything to start, you might hear this phrase being chanted. It means hurry up and start already or everybody’s going to leave!

Well there ya have it! !Buenas suerte!

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