Spanish for Dummies: A Quick Guide of Essential Spanish (2024)

Spanish for Dummies: A Quick Guide of Essential Spanish (1)

March 10, 2022 by Olga Put Spanish Grammar 2 comments

Learners today want easy and fast solutions, and although no magic app exists to make you learn things effortlessly, it is possible to learn with easy-to-digest content.

Ready for Spanish for dummies?

This lesson includes the basic vocabulary and expressions that you’d normally cover in a few weeks of Spanish 101 for beginners classes. Read this article, and you’ll find things to learn in Spanish that would take you many hours in a traditional language course.

Get ready to learn basic greetings and goodbyes, common Spanish questions and responses, conversational Spanish for beginners, and other useful vocabulary for dummies.

Read it, learn it, and you’ll impress your Spanish-speaking friends and your Spanish teacher.

Table of Contents:

  • Spanish Greetings and Goodbyes
  • Basic Spanish Questions and Answers
  • Small Talk for Dummies in Spanish
  • Ready for Small Talk?

Spanish Greetings and Goodbyes

One of the first things you’ll need to survive in Spanish-speaking environments is to be able to greet and say goodbye to people. It doesn’t require much linguistic involvement and will make people think fondly of you. You don’t need to know any grammar or combine words you know, just learn these phrases by heart and use them when the time comes.

Before we start, let me tell you that in Spanish, there’s a difference between formal and informal “you.” There are two different pronouns.

The informal “you” is tú. You use it with people you know well, family members, friends, and people who are your age or younger. Usted means formal “you,” and you’ll use it with people you don’t know, authority figures, and people older than you.

Verb endings are different for formal and informal you. However, you don’t need to worry about it now and I will simply add in parenthesis if the expression is formal or informal. If there’s nothing written about its formality, it means you can use it safely in all situations.

So, let’s start with these Spanish basics for beginners, and let me show you some useful Spanish greetings first.

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Spanish for Dummies – Greetings

Notice the strange punctuation marks at the beginning of some phrases in the table below.

In Spanish, when you write a question, you need to start it with an inverted question mark “¿” and close it with the normal one.

When you want to write an exclamatory sentence you also need to open it with an inverted exclamation mark “¡” and close it with a normal one.

Good afternoon!¡Buenas tardes!
Good evening¡Buenas noches!
Good morning!¡Buenos días!
How are you (formal)¿Cómo está?
How are you? (informal)¿Cómo estás?
Nice to meet you.Mucho gusto.

Spanish for Dummies – Farewells

Let’s check out some easy goodbyes in Spanish. Of course, you can mimic the Terminator and say “¡Hasta la vista, baby! “ but here are some more popular options.

Bye! Goodbye!¡Adiós!
Good night!¡Buenas noches!
Have a good day (informal)¡Qué tengas un buen día!
Have a good day! (formal)¡Qué tenga un buen día!
See ya! (informal)¡Nos vemos!
See you soon!¡Hasta luego!
See you tomorrow!¡Hasta mañana!
Until next time!¡Hasta la próxima!
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If you want to learn more greetings and farewells and even some slang expressions, see:

  • How Are You? Spanish Greetings
  • The Ultimate List of Spanish Greetings and Farewells for Beginners

Basic Spanish Questions and Answers

You already know some questions for greeting people, but what if you need to ask real questions?

Learn these essential basic question words and common Spanish questions you need to know. In Spanish, you need to put an accent mark over the question word.

Common Spanish Question Words

how much?¿cuánto?
Which (one)?¿cuál?
why?¿por qué?
Spanish for Dummies: A Quick Guide of Essential Spanish (5)

Common Spanish Questions

Although in many situations you can survive just by pronouncing the question words, let’s learn some ready-to-go questions that you can use in common situations.

Can you help me? (formal)¿Me puede ayudar?
Can you help me? (informal)¿Me puedes ayudar?
Can you repeat it slowly? (formal)¿Lo puede repetir más lento?
Can you repeat it slowly? (informal)¿Lo puedes repetir más lento?
Do you accept credit cards?¿Aceptan tarjetas?
Do you speak English? (formal)¿Habla inglés?
Do you speak English? (informal)¿Hablas inglés?
How do you say it in Spanish?¿Cómo se dice esto en español?
How much is it?¿Cuánto es?
What’s this?¿Qué es esto?
What’s your name? (formal)¿Cómo se llama?
What’s your name? (informal?¿Cómo te llamas?
Where are you from (informal)¿De dónde eres?
Where are you from? (formal)¿De dónde es?
Excuse me, where is the bathroom?Disculpe, ¿dónde está el baño?
Where is…?¿Dónde está…?
Spanish for Dummies: A Quick Guide of Essential Spanish (6)

Common Spanish Answers

What happens when someone asks you these questions or answers them? You need to be prepared to understand the answers and use them yourself. Here are some common options.

Fine, thank you.Bien, gracias.
I don’t understand. I’m sorry.No entiendo, lo siento.
I’m from…Soy de…
It’s on the left.Está a la izquierda.
It’s on the right.Está a la derecha.
I speak a little.Hablo un poco.
It’s there.Está ahí.
My name is…Me llamo….
No, I’m sorry.No, lo siento.
Thank you!Gracias.
Yes, of course.Sí, claro.
You’re welcome.De nada.
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If you feel like getting some more intermediate knowledge, check out:

  • The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need to Use Question Words in Spanish
  • Cuantos vs Cuantas: How Many in Spanish?

Small Talk for Dummies in Spanish

Even if you still cannot engage in a longer conversation, you’ll make Spanish-speaking people happy if you try small talk with them. According to Forbes, small talk is anything but small, and even Psychology Today says it’s a big deal!

Informal Conversation Examples


-¿Cómo estás?
-Bien gracias, ¿y tú?
-Bien, gracias.

-How are you?
-Fine, thanks, and you?
-I’m fine, thanks.

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-Hola! ¿cómo te llamas?
-Me llamo Juan ¿y tú?
-Me llamo John. ¿Y de dónde eres?
-Soy de Estados Unidos.
-Wow! ¡Y hablas español!
-Un poco, gracias.

-Hello! What’s your name?
-My name is John and yours?
-My name is John. And where are you from?
-I’m from the United States.
-Wow! And you speak Spanish!
-A little bit, thank you.

Formal Conversation Examples

Did you get all of this? If not, go back and check the words you missed to understand everything without my translation.

Let’s check out more small talk examples, but this time they are formal.


-Buenos días! ¿Cómo está?
-Buenos días. Bien, ¿y usted?
-Bien, gracias. ¿Aceptan tarjetas?
-Sí, claro.
-¿Y cuánto es esto?

-Good morning, how are you?
-Good morning. Good, and you?
-Fine, thank you. Do you accept credit cards?
-Yes, we do.
-And how much is this?


-Disculpe, ¿dónde está el baño?
-A la derecha.
-De Nada.

-Excuse me, where’s the bathroom?
-To the right.
-Thank you!
-You’re welcome.

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You see! It wasn’t difficult. Isn’t it impressive that you can understand short conversations after just reading an article?

If you want to add to your bank of phrases see the following articles for more:

  • How To Make Small Talk in Spanish [Easy Conversation]
  • How To Have a Fluent Conversation in Spanish: Easy Tips and Tricks

Ready for Small Talk?

That was a great start! Are you ready to start learning more Spanish now? Next time you’ll lie on a Mexican beach, you’ll be able to ask for your favorite drink in Spanish and chat with the waiter!

Being bilingual brings you countless benefits and apart from that improves your cognition and decision-making abilities. Not to mention traveling with ease!

Let Homeschool Spanish Academy help you reach your language goals. Sign up for a free trial class and practice your small talk in a 1-to-1 conversation! Check out our affordable pricing and flexible programs!

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Join one of the 40,000 classes that we teach each month and you can experience results like these

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“It’s a great way to learn Spanish, from native Spanish speakers in a 1-on-1 environment. It’s been fairly easy to schedule classes around my daughter’s other classes. The best value for us has been ordering multiple classes at a time. All the instructors have been great!”

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“It’s great being able to interact with native speaking people and having a conversation with them not just doing all the work on paper. It’s also an amazing opportunity to speak with native Spanish-speaking people without having to travel to a native Spanish-speaking country.”

– Melanie

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“HSA offers very affordable, quality, one on one classes with a native speaker. My son has greatly benefited from taking classes. We have seen his confidence increase as well as his pronunciation improve, because he learns from a native Spanish speaker. HSA has quick, personal customer service. Our family has been very pleased with our experience so far!”

– Erica P. Parent of 1

Ready to learn more Spanish grammar and vocabulary? Check these out!

  • 20 Most Common Subjunctive Triggers in Spanish
  • ‘How Much Is It?’ in Spanish: A Guide to Travel and Shopping
  • Familial Bonds: Expressing ‘Sister-in-Law’ in Spanish and Family Vocabulary
  • 100 Easy Spanish Words for True Beginners
  • Earth Day Projects for Kids + Spanish Earth Day Vocabulary
  • 23 Common Spanish Prepositions You Can Use Today
  • 25 Common Subjunctive Phrases in Spanish Conversation
  • What Is an Infinitive in Spanish?
  • Author
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Olga Put

Freelance Writer at Homeschool Spanish Academy

I'm a Spanish philologist, teacher, and freelance writer with a Master's degree in Humanities from Madrid. I speak Polish, Spanish, and English fluently, and want to get better in Portuguese and German. A lover of literature, and Mexican spicy cuisine, I've lived in Poland, Spain, and Mexico and I'm currently living and teaching in Madeira, Portugal.

Latest posts by Olga Put (see all)

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Spanish for Dummies: A Quick Guide of Essential Spanish (2024)


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