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Although it is nice to speak another language fluently, being able to achieve this can be difficult, especially if you do not have sufficient resources to afford full-time Spanish lessons. However, it can still be advantageous to learn some basic phrases that will help get you through a conversation with someone who speaks Spanish or if you travel to a region where the language is widely spoken.

Beginning with simple, conversational Spanish phrases is by far the most effective way for novices to learn Spanish. When you explore the internet for Spanish conversation resources, you will realise that there are numerous options. Alternatively, you can get a standard conversational phrasebook that contains the most common ones you’ll need.

In Spanish conversation, some phrases can be more important than others. To identify the most commonly used phrases, think about and list down the things that you constantly say to other people every day. Search for their corresponding Spanish phrases and make these the focus of your early learning. These include common greetings such as ‘Good morning!’ or ‘Buenas Dias in Spanish; ‘How Are You?’ or ‘Como Estas’; ‘Thank You!’ or ‘Gracias’; ‘You’re Welcome’ or ‘De Nada’, and many more that you will find worth knowing. Learning them can help you understand what Spanish-speaking people are saying when they greet you and can help you respond to them correctly and with courtesy.

Another important set of Spanish phrases that need to be learnt are those that can help you to express your needs. You can use ‘Yo quisiera’, the Spanish phrase for ‘I want’ when you require something and then point to that something you are referring to. Ensure that you remain polite by using ‘Por favor’, the Spanish phrase for ‘please’, every time that you make a request. When asking for direction, the phrase is ‘Donde Esta’, which is the Spanish phrase for ‘Where is’ and then add the name of the place. Most probably, you will need at some time, to ask where the bathroom is. In this case, enquire ‘Donde Esta el bano?’, where ‘Bano’ refers to the bathroom, comfort room or powder room. Knowing how to ask such things in Spanish is always going to be useful.

The Spanish phrase for ‘I do not understand’ and for ‘I do not speak Spanish‘ can also be important to know in the event that you can no longer keep up with the conversation. You may let them know that you no longer understand them by saying ‘No Entiendo’ (I do not understand), and ‘No hablo Espanol’ (I do not speak Spanish). Then ask if they speak English by asking ‘Habla Ingles?’. If they reply that they do not, and it is a non serious or leisure situation, then great fun can be had in trying hand gestures and / or a third language to try and make your communication clear. In a more serious situation, you have little choice but to move on to try and find somebody that does speak some English.

Like any other language, Spanish has many indigenous words, which can make it difficult to master even the most basic conversational Spanish phrases. However, Spanish-speaking people will really appreciate your effort, for trying to speak their language, even if your pronunciation is not perfect. For this, relying on gestures to augment your spoken Spanish can again be of great help.

Clearly then, the best way to learn Spanish is to first learn the basic Spanish phrases and then to move forward from there.