Nicole King – Let’s talk

Do you speak Spanish?

I had a tough time learning Spanish, particularly getting my head around the weird sounds, the grammar and the fact that inanimate things could be classified as feminine and masculine.

I fully empathise with our expat community that hasn’t mastered the language; with so many international bars, restaurants and shops we can get away with it.

However I do see that there’s a a lot of people who would like to try and speak a little but feel they are no good at languages and don’t dare try.

To these people I would love to encourage you to give it a go: The Spanish love it when we speak even a few words and they are very forgiving if we make mistakes, appreciating our effort without judgement.  If you can pluck up the courage, you’ll truly be delighted with the reaction.

Finding shortcuts is what it’s all about.

Spanish is always pronounced as it’s written, so once you know that a double “l” will always have a “y” sound, as in Marbella and the squiggle on top of the Ñ is pronounced like the first “n” in onion, it’s actually quite plain sailing to learn to read and pronounce, unlike English.

Hola, adios, por favor and gracias are the bare minimum we should learn.  They’re easy to remember and show a sign of respect, even if you can’t say anything else.  Please don’t walk in saying hello unless it’s an English owned business!

If you want to take it a bit further, my first suggestion would be to ignore the grammar completely and just learn the most common words and the phrases you say often, as if they were vocabulary.

For example, “I would like”, if we were addressing it grammatically, would require the future conditional tense of the verb; a living nightmare to conjugate on the spot.  However, if I find that this is something I say often, I can learn it as words:  Me gustaría = I would like.

I suggested this technique to my new intern and she came up with the following to learn:

Buenos días / tardes / noches : Good morning / afternoon / evening

¿Cómo te llamas?: What is your name?

Me llamo:  My name is

¿Cómo estás? How are you?

Muy bien: Very well

¿ tú?: you?

De nada: You’re welcome

Lo siento: Sorry

Qué?: What?

No entiendo: I don’t understand

See you tomorrow – hasta mañana

Can you help me?  ¿Me puedes ayudar”

I’m hungry – Tengo hambre

I guess so – Supongo que sí

How much does it cost? Cuanto vale?

Can I see the menu, please? La carta por favor

Can I have the bill – La cuenta por favor

Pay by card – con tarjeta

Pay with cash  – en efectivo

How do I get to…  ¿como llego a …..?

What time does the bus come ¿ A qué hora llega el autobus?

There won’t be a test, but please let me know how you get on!

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Written by

Nicole King

One of Marbella's most glamorous residents, Nicole King offers a taste of the best of what's going on in the Costa del Sol.