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Home / Beginner / 2. Basic Sentences

2.1 Spanish Greetings and Small Talk

Formal greetings in spanish

When you meet someone for the first time you will most probably use the formal ‘Usted’ when addressing them. There are some exceptions e.g. meeting children, but if you are not sure, it is always safe to begin with the formal ‘Usted’.

Here are the most common greetings:

Hola - Hello

Buenos días - Good morning (note: ‘Buenos’ because ‘días’ is masc.)

Buenas tardes - Good afternoon (note: ‘Buenas’ because ‘tardes’ is fem.)

Buenas noches - Good night (note: ‘Buenas’ because ‘noches’ is fem.)

Adiós - Goodbye

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This is how you introduce yourself:

Mucho gusto - Nice to meet you.

Me llamo Gustavo Martinez - My name is Gustavo Martinez (lit. ‘I call myself Gustavo Martinez’)

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Small talk in spanish

Now let's move on to some basic examples of small talk:

1. General small talk:

¿Cómo está usted? – How are you?
Muy bien, gracias. ¿Y usted? – Very well thank you. And you?

Buenos días Señor. ¿Es usted norteamericano? – Good morning sir. Are you American?
Sí, pero mi esposa es colombiana – Yes, but my wife is Colombian.

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2. About the language:

¿Usted habla Español? – Do you speak Spanish?
Sí. Un poco.  – Yes, a little.

Tomo clases para aprender español – I take classes to learn Spanish.

Lo leo bien pero no lo hablo muy bien – I read it well but I don’t speak it very well (‘lo’ refers to ‘Spanish’. See details later in this lesson).

Lo entiendo mejor que lo hablo – I undertand it better than I speak it.

Lo estudio todos los días – I study it every day.

Es difícil aprender un nuevo idioma, pero lo disfruto mucho – It is difficult to learn a new language, but I enjoy it very much.

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3. Where we live:

¿Dónde vive usted? – Where do you live?
Vivo en un apartamento en la Avenida Marco – I live in an apartment on Marco Avenue.

¿Y ustedes? ¿Dónde viven ustedes? – And you (plural)? Where do you live?
No vivimos aquí. Vivimos en la Ciudad de México – We don't live here. We live in Mexico City.

Estamos aquí de vacaciones – We are here on vacation.

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4. Where to eat:

¿Hay un buen restaurante cerca de aquí? – Is there a good restaurant around here? (‘cerca’ – ‘close’)

Sí, conozco un buen restaurante mexicano en la próxima calle – Yes, I know a good Mexican restaurant on the next street.

También conozco un buen restaurante peruano, pero está lejos – I also know a good Peruvian restaurant, but it’s far.

Gracias Señor. Usted es muy amable  - Thank you sir. You are very kind.

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spanish Grammar notes

1. ‘Me llamo Gustavo Martinez’ – The verb ‘llamar’, ‘to call’ becomes ‘llamarse’, ‘to call oneself’. The conjugation for ‘Yo’ which is ‘me llamo’, ‘I call myself’ is very commonly used to say ‘my name is’. You could also say ‘Mi nombre es…’, ‘My name is…’. Reflexive verbs are covered later in more detail.

2. ‘Lo estudio todos los días’ – Since there is no neuter gender, Spanish has a masculine (Lo) and feminine (La) form of ‘it’. In this case ‘Lo’ refers to ‘el español’ which is masculine. You will see more on this later (we have a separate chapter on nouns) but here are a few examples for now:

Estudio inglés todos los días – I study English every day
Lo estudio todos los días – I study it every day (lit. ‘It I study every day’)

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Tenemos el carro en el garage – We have the car in the garage
Lo tenemos en el garage – We have it in the garage (‘Lo’ refers to ‘el carro’ which is masculine)

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Compramos una casa ayer – We bought a house yesterday
La compramos ayer – We bought it yesterday (‘La’ refers to ‘la casa’ which is feminine)

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Lavamos la camisa en la casa – We wash the shirt at home
La lavamos en la casa – We wash it at home (‘La’ refers to ‘la camisa’ which is feminine)

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Some more informal greetings and small talK in spanish

Hola – Hello
¿Cómo estás? – How are you?
¿Qué tal? – What’s up?
¿Qué onda? – What’s up? (used only in Mexico)
¿Qué hay de nuevo? -  What’s new? (A common mistake is to say ‘nueve’ instead of ‘nuevo’; ‘nueve' means ‘nine’ whereas ‘nuevo’ means ‘new’)
¿Cómo van las cosas? – How are things? (lit. how do things go)
¿Cómo está la familia? – How’s the family?

Estoy bien – I’m fine
Todo bien – Everything’s fine
Todo va muy bien – Everything is going really well.

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