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How To Speak Spanish: Guide For Beginners With Video and PDF

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  • How To Speak Spanish: Guide For Beginners With Video and PDF

Introduction

Spanish is a language spoken by almost 500 million natives. There are an estimated 24 million Spanish students in the world.

Is Spanish a difficult language to be learned by a foreigner? No one can give you a definitive answer, but I invite you to discover it yourself. Are you in?

You, who do not speak any Spanish at all (except perhaps “paella” = “rice dish” and “siesta” = “nap”) can have your first contact with Spanish here.

And if you already speak a little, this guide will help refresh your memory and you will surely learn something new, such as some fun facts about the language and interesting words in Spanish.

Learn Spanish from scratch with a little help in English

Dare to get out of your comfort zone! Learning a new language makes us see the world in a different way. It also allows us to meet different people and enjoy a new culture – new places, sounds, flavors …

In a few minutes (which, I guarantee, will make your day even more productive), you will learn useful phrases and be able to properly pronounce any word in Spanish that you see written.

You have two video options. You can watch the video with the explanation in English … Or in Spanish, with subtitles in Spanish, English or Portuguese…

Video in Spanish with subtitles

Video in English

…Or you can watch one video first, then the other. The important thing is that you enjoy learning the new language.

Download the material to learn Spanish for free

In this post you have the following FREE resources:

The PDF that you see in the video, with theory, vocabulary, exercises, and answers + summary (to download and/or print).
An extra PDF with for you to download (“cheat sheet”).
Audio in MP3 format that you can download.
MiniSpanishVoc1

Interactive vocabulary flashcards: you can choose your preferred learning or game mode. You can download this material and print it.

A quiz to practice. In this blog post you have an additional quiz to practice this information.

Tables with all words and phrases with their translation and audios with example words.

This Spanish lesson for beginners is the first lesson of the FREE and ONLINE mini-course of Spanish for foreigners (with explanations in English). Read on to know the details.

Learn Spanish Online  – 100% for FREE, No Strings Attached!

This is a self-study online course for English-speaking beginners.

You will learn the basics of communication to start speaking Spanish right away, from scratch!

With video lessons and varied materials to guide you in your first steps in the new language.

You have lifetime access to the course contents.

You can start learning immediately, or whenever you want. There are no deadlines.

Click on the drop-down below to see how to enroll.
🚀Signing up is a quick and intuitive two-step process!

1️⃣Go to the course website and click on “⭐CREATE FREE ACCOUNT⭐” to have access to the course platform.

2️⃣With your account set up, go back to the course website and click on “PURCHASE COURSE – 0€”.

😍The course is FREE PRODUCT: you do not have to pay for it, and you do not have to inform bank details.

🌐You’re in! You can access your Spanish course using your account through INTRANET.

When you finish it, you will get the certificate of completion… And a surprise gift!

In the Spanish mini-course you will learn the most basic elements of communication and you will be able to communicate with simple phrases that you can use, for example, on your next trip to a Spanish-speaking country.

If you have questions, feel free to get in touch!

What are you going to learn in this Spanish class for beginners?

Part One: Useful Phrases in Spanish to Greet and to Say Goodbye

We learn new basic Spanish expressions so that you can assimilate the letters and sounds of this new language – and start speaking it right away!

You can learn these relevant words and phrases in Spanish starting on minute 00:25 in the video.

To break the ice, you will easily learn to say hello, say goodbye and be nice in Spanish.

You can even build your first sentences! You will learn how to order a coffee and how to ask for the bill in the coffee shop.

These are the expressions you will learn. You have them in the PDF, in the table with the English translation and you can listen to them in the audio.

🤝¡HOLA!Hi!
🌞¡BUENOS DÍAS!Good morning!
🍰¡BUENAS TARDES!Good afternoon!
🌜¡BUENAS NOCHES!Good evening/night!
😏¿QUÉ TAL?How are you?
😊BIEN.Well.
😐NORMAL.Not bad.
🙌GRACIASThank you.
👋HASTA LUEGO.See you later.
👋ADIÓS.Farewell.
👋CHAO.Bye.

The simplest way to say “hello” in Spanish is by saying “HOLA”. This greeting works at any time, day and night, and is short and informal. And if you notice, it begins with the letter H which is written, but is not pronounced.

So, with this you already have your first pronunciation rule: the H in Spanish is silent.

  • But H will not be silent if you see CH. In this combination, the corresponding sound is the same as you have in English when you say “match”.

You can also greet in Spanish by saying:

🌞¡BUENOS DÍAS!Good morning!
🍰¡BUENAS TARDES!Good afternoon!
🌜¡BUENAS NOCHES!Good evening/night!

To ask the person how they are doing, you will say “¿QUÉ TAL?” (“how are you?”). This question works in any situation, formal or informal.

  • Notice that the U in “QUÉ” is written, but we pronounce [ke].

The most common response to “¿QUÉ TAL?” will be “BIEN” (“well”). The person may respond “NORMAL” if he or she is not doing particularly well, but things are not bad, either. And, to be polite, “GRACIAS” (“thank you”) should be added.

You can add “¿QUÉ TAL?” to your response (“BIEN, GRACIAS, ¿QUÉ TAL?”) and thus you are showing interest in the other person in a friendly manner.

😏¿QUÉ TAL?How are you?
😊BIEN.Well.
😐NORMAL.Not bad.
🙌GRACIASThank you.

To say goodbye in Spanish, it is customary to say “HASTA LUEGO”, which is a somewhat long phrase. For this reason, many people prefer to say “ADIÓS”, which is shorter.

  • “ADIÓS” can be a final goodbye, but not necessarily. It sounds a bit formal, so you can substitute “ADIÓS” for “CHAO” if you prefer.
👋HASTA LUEGO.See you later.
👋ADIÓS.Farewell.
👋CHAO.Bye.

Second part: Useful Phrases in Spanish to be Polite

Let’s see some more useful Spanish expressions:

❗IMPORTANTEimportant
🙏POR FAVOR.Please.
🙌GRACIAS.Thank you.
☺DE NADA.You are welcome.
😪PERDÓN.Pardon.
🙃NO PASA NADA.That is OK.
👍SÍ.Yes.
👎NO.No.
☕UN CAFÉ, POR FAVOR.A coffee, please.
🤵LA CUENTA, POR FAVOR.The check, please.

To say “yes”, in Spanish we say “SÍ”.

To say “no”, in Spanish we use “NO”.

👍SÍ.Yes.
👎NO.No.
To apologize, the shortest formula in Spanish is “PERDÓN” (”pardon”), which literally means “forgiveness”.

The appropriate reaction to “PERDÓN” is “NO PASA NADA.”

😪PERDÓN.Pardon.
🙃NO PASA NADA.That is OK.

“POR FAVOR” is what is said to politely ask for something.

Therefore, if you are in a store or restaurant, you can order saying what you want, and adding “POR FAVOR”: it is easy and fast. For example:

☕UM CAFÉ, POR FAVOR.A coffee, please.
🤵A CONTA, POR FAVOR.The check, please.

Once we get what we want, show thankfulness with “GRACIAS”.

If you want to accept something in Spanish, you can say “SÍ, POR FAVOR”. On the contrary, to decline an offer, you say “NO, GRACIAS.”

The proper reaction to “POR FAVOR” is “DE NADA” (“you are welcome”).

🙏POR FAVOR.Please.
🙌GRACIAS.Thank you.
☺DE NADA.You are welcome.

In English, to react to “thank you”, you say “you are welcome”. But you cannot do the same in Spanish!

  • In Spanish, “BIENVENIDO” (directed at a man) and “BIENVENIDA” (when you speak to a woman) is what you say to tell the person he or she is welcome (at your home, for example). You will use “BIENVENIDO/A” only in this situation.

Do you want to learn more expressions to say hello and be polite in Spanish? You have this guide with 38+ must-know phrases in Spanish with video, audio, quiz, flashcards, and material to download for FREE.

Learn to say hello in Spanish like a true native! In this FREE guide you will find 89+ ways to say “hello”, “bye” and “how are you?”. The guide includes video, audio, quiz, flashcards, and material to download and practice.

Third part: the letters in Spanish

You will learn the alphabet in Spanish starting on minute 05:16 in the video.

To learn to pronounce the sounds in Spanish it is important that you first know the names of the letters.

You also have vocabulary flashcards to help you memorize the letters.

You have the Spanish alphabet in this table, in the PDF and you can listen to the audio to facilitate your learning.

A = AJ = JOTAR = ERRE
B = BEK = KAS = ESE
C = CEL = ELET= TE
C = CHELL = ELLEU = U
D = DEM = EMEV = UVE
E =  EN = ENEW = UVE DOBLE
F = EFEÑ = EÑEX = EQUIS
G = GEO = OY = I GRIEGA
H = HACHEP = PEZ = ZETA
I = IQ = CU

Third part: how to stress and how to pronounce any word in Spanish

In the video you will discover all the tricks and secrets to pronounce correctly in Spanish. You will also learn how to stress the words in Spanish.

Don’t worry about learning the example words. They are place names, it is not vocabulary that you need to learn now.

You will learn the word stress in Spanish starting on minute 08:00 in the video.

You will learn the pronunciation in Spanish starting on minute 11:47 in the video.

You have a complete and FREE Spanish pronunciation guide for English speakers. You will find many examples, audios, quizzes, and helpful tips to pronounce like a native!

Wrapping up: the summary and a quiz so that you can check your knowledge yourself

To review what you learned in this Spanish pronunciation guide, you have a summary in the PDF.

In the PDF you will find exercises to practice, but also here you can put to the test what you learned with the quiz at the end of this post. I hope you have a good time!

You have another quiz below so you can see more examples of how fun the Spanish language sounds.

With -> are indicated the questions of type “action -> reaction”.

There’s always at least one wrong answer in the quiz.

Complete online Spanish course for English-speaking beginners (A1)

Did you like this first contact with Spanish?

You have the FREE MINI-COURSE that you can do to learn ONLINE and at your own pace.

At the end of it, you will get a GREAT DISCOUNT to take the complete Spanish course for beginners and thus finish level A1.

In 42 lessons of the online course you will learn the basis of the language to communicate easily and effectively.

You can participate in webinars, where you can ask your questions in real time with the teacher.

You will get the certificate of completion of the course (A1).

You have the free trial lesson available here:

Frequently asked questions about the Spanish language and fun facts

Spanish or Castilian? The natives tend to call the language “SPANISH” in general, although in some areas they prefer to refer to it by the name “CASTELLANO”. “Spanish” and “Castilian” are often used synonymously.

🔹How many words does Spanish have? It is impossible to say for sure, because the language is alive and constantly changing, but the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (2014) has about 200,000 words.

• Fun fact: 8000 words of Spanish are of Arabic origin, thanks to the Arab presence in Spain in the Middle Ages.

🔹How many words does a native Spanish speaker use? It is not easy to answer that question either, because it depends on your communication needs.

• A highly educated native Spanish speaker knows 5000 words.

• It is estimated that a native uses about 1000 words per day, on average.

• Studies show that teenagers (native speakers!) only use about 300 different words every day.

• As a beginner foreigner (level A1), you may be able to communicate your basic needs in Spanish with about 500 words. Or even less!

🔹 How many words do I need to know to speak conversational Spanish?

This question has 1️⃣ a standardized answer and 2️⃣a more appropriate answer to the reality of language learning.

The first answer to the question is: to finish level A1 (the one you have if you start from scratch), between 500 and 1000  words will suffice. 500 is the number of words you will see in the glossary of many textbooks for beginners.

  • When you finish level A1 you know the basics of the language, and you can have brief and simple conversations in day-to-day life.
  • It may seem like an awful lot to you, 1000 words! But it will not be hard to learn them if you have the methodology and the right stimuli to optimize your study.
  • You can see for yourself studying Spanish from scratch in the complete online course .

The second answer to the question is: there is no magic number of words to achieve fluency. Each student has specific communicative needs.

  • All students need a common, core vocabulary.  I am referring to must-know words, a list of vocabulary that includes those 500-1000 relevant words that any beginner should know.
  • This vocabulary will increase depending on the interests and lifestyle of each student.

For example, if you want to speak Spanish to make short trips to a Spanish-speaking country, those 1000 words may be more than enough.

In this case, I advise you to take a look at this guide with the vocabulary and the 62 essential phrases for your next trip to a Spanish-speaking country. You have free material (phrasebook included) to download and to practice.

However, if you intend to live in a Spanish-speaking country, and you have a professional occupation with specific jargon, your vocabulary should be much more extensive. It would therefore include those technical terms that are necessary to the exercise of your profession.

  • Something similar will happen if you intend to study at a Spanish or Latin American university: apart from knowing complex language structures, you need an extensive vocabulary to be able to carry out your studies.

If you have a partner whose mother tongue is Spanish, your needs will be different. You will want to know vocabulary related to people, social relationships, and feelings so you can have meaningful conversations with your partner, his/her family, and friends.

It is not just me who says that.  Brazilian singer Anitta, whose Spanish skills are impressive, said the secret was that she learned the language with the lovers she  had, her first teacher being no less than Columbian singer Maluma, who is also a great enthusiast of the Spanish language. A piece of advice: find yourself a hunky Spanish speaker like Maluma (or a gorgeous native speaker like Shakira, if you prefer) who will stimulate you to learn their language!

  • This is what you, as a beginner, need to know for your vocabulary learning to be effective:

    Part of this basic vocabulary of 500-1000 words consists of the most used words in the language.   Many of them are prepositions, conjunctions, and other kinds of grammatical words.

    • These are words you must learn in context. Although they can be translated, each language has its nuances and knowing them is part of mastering a foreign language.

    With a vocabulary of between 500 and 1000 worth-knowing words, that is, words are really used by any speaker of the language to meet their daily communicative needs, you can express yourself and understand a lot of information with ease in daily conversations.

    • The secret is that those words are well chosen. The teacher must provide you with a vocabulary that is generic, but frequent and practical, so that – as a beginner – you can begin to grasp the language
    • A good teacher knows what a beginner’s priorities are and only provides information that helps him/her to have a strong foundation of the language.

    You can learn the essential vocabulary  of Spanish in an enjoyable and visual way with this series of videos. Each has free material for you to practice.  I provide you with the links of the free material at the end of this post.

🔹 Do you like grammar? If not, you can blame Antonio de Nebrija, the author of the first grammar of the language, from the same year as the discovery of America by Columbus: 1492.

🔹 Spanish is the third language on the Internet, after English and Chinese, since 7.9% of Internet users communicate in Spanish.

🔹Where is Spanish official? Spanish is the official language in 22 countries. It is spoken in Spain and in many Latin American countries. 90% of the native speakers of the language live in the American continent.

• But there are countries where Spanish is not the only official language. In Spain there are four official languages ​​(Spanish, Catalan, Basque and Galician).

• In Mexico, apart from Spanish, there are 68 official languages, all of them indigenous.

🔹What are the countries with the highest number of Spanish speakers? First Mexico (124 million speakers) and then the United States (58 million).

• Spanish is official also in Equatorial Guinea, in Africa. In the What Spanish should I learn as a foreigner, Spanish from Spain or Latino?

The natives speak a little differently depending on the region. That happens in Spanish and in any language in the world.

Even within the same country there are different accents and, therefore, we cannot say that there is only one “Spanish from Spain” or one “Latino Spanish”. However, all Spanish speakers understand each other perfectly.

For example, the melody of the speakers when they pronounce in Spanish may be different. You can see it in this funny video, where the actors imitate the different accents of the countries when a couple is ending a relationship.

Even if you don’t understand anything the actors are saying, you will surely notice the different accents.

The video includes a couple from  Brazil, a country where Spanish is not spoken, but Portuguese. If you want to discover this fascinating language, you can also learn it here!

Spanish fun fact: there are many objects and foods that have different names depending on the region.

For example, to say “popcorn” there are at least twenty words in Spanish!

Interestingly, the popcorn is authentically Latin American. Corn has been grown in Mexico since 7,000 BC, and the oldest archaeological remains of popcorn date back to 3600 BC.

You don’t need to learn this vocabulary, but if you’re curious, here are some of the “popcorn” names in the different countries where Spanish is spoken:

(general, España, México) palomitas de maíz
(Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay) pororó
(Argentina) pochoclo
(Bolivia) pipocas
(Chile) cabritas
(Colombia, Venezuela, Islas Canarias) cotufas
(Cuba) rositas de maíz
(Centroamérica en general) rosetas de maíz
(Rep. Dominicana) cocalecas
(Ecuador) canguil
(México, Colombia) crispetas
(Guatemala) poporopo
(Perú) canchitas
different names for “popcorn” in different Spanish-speaking regions

I insist: you don’t need to learn all these names, of course! Because if you say “PALOMITAS” any native will understand you. Spanish is a very practical language.

No matter where you go, if you travel to Madrid or Bogotá, Havana or Tenerife, the Spanish you learn in this guide, on this blog and in the courses on this website will allow you to communicate with natives without problems.

I insist: the variations do not hinder communication at all. Of course, the Spanish of Mexico has its peculiarities and its riches, but you don’t have to learn “Mexican Spanish” if you are going to travel to Mexico. There you will speak Spanish, just as you will speak Spanish if you travel to Argentina, Puerto Rico or Madrid.

Similarly, it doesn’t matter where your teacher comes from. As long as Spanish is his mother tongue, what he teaches you will help you communicate with any other Spanish speaker. This is how beautiful our language is.

A quiz to check what you learned in this guide for English-speaking beginners

Do you want to see how much you learned in these past minutes? Take the quiz.

With -> the questions of the “action -> reaction” type are indicated.

There is always at least one wrong answer on the quiz.

Quiz Link

I hope you liked this guide and that you have a great time discovering Spanish.

Keep on learning Spanish: Free materials for beginners

You have a FREE mini-course for English speakers to learn the basis of communication in Spanish:

Online Mini-Course: Spanish for English Speakers (A1 – Beginners)

You have a complete Spanish self-study course (level A1) with webinars and certificate of completion. The first lesson is free:

Online Self-Study Spanish Course for English Speakers (A1)

Find here the free resources and motivation to learn Spanish with pro tips!

How To Learn Spanish Online & For Free – Sneak Peek

A series of 1-minute videos to learn the most basic Spanish with transcriptions, audios, and quizzes.

How To Learn Useful Spanish with Free Quick Videos

The most common greetings, farewells and politeness phrases in Spanish.

Your First Spanish Lesson: Learn Online & for Free!

The Spanish pronunciation.

Your first 83 expressions in Spanish and how to pronounce them.

How To Pronounce The Most Googled Spanish Words

62 simple phrases in Spanish for travelers.

Spanish for Travelers: 62 Must-Know Phrases with Free PDF

The 81 TOP questions and answers in Spanish.

Questions and Answers in Spanish | Download Free PDF and MP3

The most thorough guide on greetings and goodbyes in Spanish.

Downloadable PDF + MP3 | 89+ Spanish Conversation Starters

Vocabulary: the most relevant verbs in Spanish for English speakers.

Free Video Guide: Spanish Verbs for English Speakers

Vocabulary: the most relevant nouns in Spanish for English speakers.

Basic Noun Vocabulary in Spanish with Free Video, PDF & MP3!

In this playlist, you will find videos to learn Spanish with explanations in Spanish (with Spanish & English subtitles)

You have a list of videos (with explanations in English) to learn Spanish basics:

In this list you will find short videos to learn Spanish in the blink of an eye

Videos for English speakers who want to learn the essential vocabulary of the Spanish language.

You have FREE videos to learn Spanish with downloadable material for English speaking-beginners on the blog – no registration needed.

Useful Spanish videos on the YouTube channel –  Subscribe!

Learn conversational Spanish on Facebook!

Learn the basics of Spanish on Pinterest!

https://www.pinterest.es/discenslearning/spanish-for-english-speakers-a1/

About the author: I am Alicia, your Spanish teacher. I was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and I was raised trilingual. I did my undergraduate and Ph.D. studies in Madrid and Berlin. After completing my Masters in Didactics in 2010, I applied my knowledge to foreign language teaching. I worked in Berlin with face-to-face classes until 2018. Since then, I have specialized in online teaching and the creation of digital learning content.

Images obtained via Canva®.

©2022 Alicia Montero Schiemann

All rights reserved.

Discens Language Learning®

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