Whether you’re committed to learning Spanish or not, it is undeniable that you need some essential phrases to get by. For day-to-day life in Mérida, we’ve picked out 30 words or short phrases that we think will take you from total newbie to confident resident without the hassle of taking a class or attempting the verb conjugations. Take it slow and easy through these Essential Spanish Phrases for Mérida Mexico.
We’ve divided our list into 3 sections of 10 phrases:
- Basic Phrases for the Newcomer or Fleeting Traveler
- Additional Phrases for the Keen Learner
- Adventurous Phrases for the Lingo Enthusiasts
For the purpose of this article, we are not including some of the most basic words such as sí or no, numbers, punctuation or details on grammar points where (unless necessary). However, these are also important Spanish Phrases for Mérida Mexico.
Note: no curse or swear words are included in this list though we’re sure you’ll pick some up during your time here! Mexicans are quite open with using curse words particularly while driving…
Level 1: Basic Phrases for the Newcomer or Fleeting Traveler
Por favor = please
Of course, you will need por favor for almost all interactions. A quick note, many Mexicans shorten it to por fa in relaxed and informal settings.
Buenos días and Buenas tardes = good morning and good afternoon
Though better understood as hello. This is your normal greeting in Spanish and can be shortened simply to buenas. Only recently did I learn that it’s actually best to use buenos días or buenas tardes instead of hola (which is why you won’t find it on our list) as this is considered very formal.
Hasta luego / Nos vemos = see you later
Similar to the situation with hola, you don’t hear Mexicans saying adiós for goodbye. Instead, you are more likely to hear hasta luego or nos vemos which is a more informal way to say see ya.
Gracias = thank you
Another essential word for all situations, gracias can be one of the biggest clues that you’re a foreigner. To impress, don your best Mexican Spanish accent and pronounce it gra-si-as with lots of short vowel sounds and s’s.
Muy amable = very kind
Notably, this is another common phrase which goes hand in hand with gracias. Say it to someone who does something extra for you like bringing you a glass or water in a restaurant, answering a question you have or helping you with directions.
Cómo estás / Qué tal? = how are you?
Surprisingly, both cómo estás and qué tal can often be used as a greeting and asked without expectations of a reply. You might start a conversation with buen día, cómo estás? and get no response. Both phrases are used equally here in Mexico so you will likely not hear one more than the other for Spanish Phrases for Mérida Mexico
Cuánto cuesta? = how much is it?
Obviously, this is an extremely useful phrase as we often find ourselves checking the price of something, particularly as visitors in new places. For plurals, change to cuánto cuestan or for a very informal option you can use cuánto sale?
Perdón = sorry or excuse me
Interestingly, this can be a tricky one in Spanish as there are other options. But, we recommend this as your go-to phrase of Spanish Phrases for Mérida Mexico. You can use it to apologise for a misunderstanding or if you brush someone by accident and you will be perfectly understood.
No entiendo = I don’t understand
Certainly an essential that you must not be afraid to use, no entiendo is perfectly accompanied by perdón. While people in Merida are extremely friendly and understanding, you’ll find that many want to practise their English with you. Moreover, do not hesitate to express when you don’t understand something.
De nada = you’re welcome
The natural response if someone should thank you for a service and best delivered with a smile (if you’re not wearing your face mask, that is!).
Level 2: Additional Phrases for the Keen Learner
Dónde está? = where is it?
If you want to know the location of a particular place, you just add the place you’re looking for at the end: donde esta la tienda? where is the shop? A pronunciation tip: generally native Spanish speakers combine both words and say dond-esta?
Soy de…(Los Estados Unidos) = I am from…
The obvious phrase to give your place of birth. We’ve found this particularly useful if you’re in an Uber and you hear the phrase de donde eres? where are you from or de donde nos visitas? where are you visiting us from?
A que hora? = What time?
Furthermore, this is most useful if you want to know what time a place opens or closes. If you want to know the time right now, you need que hora es? Tip: Mexicans often change this question to que hora tienes? which literally means what time do you have?
La cuenta por favor = the bill please
While, of course, you can get by with the universal pen to paper signal, if you’re feeling brave you can ask for the bill using this simple phrase.
Disculpe = sorry or excuse me
You’re probably thinking that this sounds familiar and you’re right. No doubt, this is a complicated word which can be confused with perdón. Spanish speakers usually use disculpe in situations when you want to apologise for something in particular such as disculpe por la tardanza, sorry for the delay. You might also hear it when someone wants to get your attention or needs to interrupt. Try using it in a restaurant to call over the waiter or waitress as one of your Spanish Phrases for Mérida Mexico.
No hablo español / Hablo un poco de español = I don’t speak Spanish or I speak a little Spanish
If you are still not confident with your Spanish then you can always resort to either of these phrases. You can add, hablas inglés? to find out if they speak English.
Hace calor = it’s hot
This is the perfect phrase for the Yucatan summertime because it gets really rather hot. Switch calor to frío to express that it’s cold.
No te preocupes = don’t worry
This is always a nice expression for if someone apologises to you. An alternative can be no pasa nada, nothing happens!
No (lo) sé = I don’t know
The lo is for it and is not used that often so you can stick with no sé.
Que bien! = Great!
Que here is best translated as how (though usually que is used as what so be careful). This is a very commonly used phrase usually as a response to some good news.
Level 3: Adventurous Phrases for Lingo Enthusiasts
Con permiso = sorry or excuse me
We’ve covered perdón and disculpe but we must include con permiso which is used in a variety of situations. Most notably, this is a nice way to say excuse me if you are asking for someone to move out of the way. However, it is also useful if you are leaving a place while a social exchange is still happening e.g. you need to go to the bathroom during a meal or you need to leave a conversation.
Que linda / que chido = nice or cool
These are more versions of ways to respond to good news. They translate best and ‘cool’ or ‘nice’ instead of ‘good’ or ‘great’.
Que onda? = what’s up?
This is the friendly and informal version of cómo estás? Subsequently, you will hear this mostly amongst friends and not with strangers.
Qué pasó? = what happened?
Maybe someone is upset or distressed and you want to know what has caused this feeling. Remember, place your emphasis on the final symbol.
No manches = no way!
Trust us on this, no manches is the version of this phrase that is acceptable in all situations (i.e. in front of elderly citizens or your in-laws). Furthermore, use this as a response to news that makes you laugh, shocks you or is just surprising.
(Buen) Provecho = bon appetit!
Said before eating to wish everyone a pleasant meal. You might also find that in a friendly eating establishment, other customers say this to you as they leave.
Salud = bless you / cheers
While the literal translation is health, salud means bless you when someone sneezes. Of course, our favorite is when you all ching your glasses together before downing your tequilas!
Mucho gusto = nice to meet you
When you are introduced to someone for the first time this is an essential phrase. You can use it when being introduced and also when the meeting ends as a farewell. A more formal version of mucho gusto, which you are unlikely to need but might hear, is encantado/a.
Claro = of course
Use claro when in relaxed and informal situations but for something more formal there is por supuesto.
Cuídate = take care
This is a lovely phrase to add to your adiós or hasta luego. It’s important to note, remember to change it to cuidase or cuidense (plural) if you’re talking to someone older than you as you must use the formal version.
Final Thoughts on Essential Spanish Phrases for Mérida Mexico
Don’t hesitate and don’t be afraid to make mistakes –
Notably, learning Spanish can be challenging, particularly if you’re not a natural language learner. So take your time, enjoy using the phrases and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Not surprisingly, once you get over the potential embarrassment of using the wrong word or pronouncing something slightly wrong, there’ll be no stopping you.
If you want more professional lessons, check out some of these Spanish Schools.