Rick Steves Spanish Phrase Book & Dictionary


By Rick Steves

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$16.99 CAD



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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 17, 2019. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

From ordering tapas in Madrid to making new friends in Costa del Sol, it helps to speak some of the native tongue in Spain. Rick Steves offers well-tested Spanish words and phrases that come in handy in a variety of situations. Inside you’ll find:
  • Key phrases for use in everyday circumstances, complete with phonetic spelling
  • An English-Spanish and Spanish-English dictionary
  • Tips for small talk and local lingo with Rick’s signature sense of humor
  • A tear-out cheat sheet for continued language practice as you wait in line for the Guggenheim Bilbao (no internet connection required!)
Informative, concise, and practical, Rick Steves Spanish Phrase Book is an essential item for any traveler’s pocket.


Hi, I’m Rick Steves.

I’m the only monolingual speaker I know who’s had the nerve to design a series of European phrase books. But that’s one of the things that makes them better.

You see, after more than 30 years of travel through Europe, I’ve learned firsthand: (1) what’s essential for communication in another country, and (2) what’s not. I’ve assembled the most important words and phrases in a logical, no-frills format, and I’ve worked with native Europeans and seasoned travelers to give you the simplest, clearest translations possible.

But this book is more than just a pocket translator. The words and phrases have been carefully selected to help you have a smarter, smoother trip in Spain without going broke. Spain used to be cheap and chaotic. These days it’s neither. It’s better organized than ever—and can be as expensive as France or Germany. The key to getting more out of every travel dollar is to get closer to the local people, and to rely less on entertainment, restaurants, and hotels that cater only to foreign tourists. This book will not only help you order a meal at a locals-only Sevilla restaurant—it will help you talk with the family who runs the place...about their kids, travel dreams, and favorite música. Long after your memories of museums have faded, you’ll still treasure the personal encounters you had with your new Spanish friends.

A good phrase book should help you enjoy your travel experience—not just survive it—so I’ve added a healthy dose of humor. A few phrases are just for fun and aren’t meant to be used at all. But most of the phrases are for real and should be used with “please” (por favor). I know you can tell the difference.

While I’ve provided plenty of phrases, you’ll find it just as effective to use even just a word or two to convey your meaning, and rely on context, gestures, and smiles to help you out. To make harried postal clerks happy, don’t say haltingly in Spanish: “I would like to buy three stamps to mail these postcards to the United States.” All you really need is sellos (stamps), Estados Unidos (USA), por favor (please). Smile, point to the postcards, hold up three fingers...and you’ve got stamps. (For more advice, see Tips for Hurdling the Language Barrier SEE HERE.)

To get the most out of this book, take the time to practice my Spanish pronunciation tips. But don’t worry too much about memorizing grammatical rules, like the gender of a noun—the important thing is to communicate!

This book has a nifty menu decoder and a handy dictionary. You’ll also find tongue twisters, international words, telephone tips, and two handy “cheat sheets.” Tear out the sheets and keep them in your pocket, so you can easily memorize key phrases during otherwise idle moments. As you prepare for your trip, you may want to read this year’s edition of my Rick Steves’ Spain guidebook.

While a number of Spanish people speak fine English, many don’t. The language barrier can seem high in Spain, but locals are happy to give an extra boost to any traveler who makes an effort to communicate.

My goal is to help you become a more confident, extroverted traveler. If this phrase book helps make that happen, or if you have suggestions for making it better, I’d love to hear from you at rick@ricksteves.com. I value your feedback.

¡Buen viaje! Have a good trip!

Getting Started

Spanish opens the door to the land of siestas and fiestas, fun and flamenco. Imported from the Old World throughout the New, Spanish is the most widely spoken Romance language in the world. With its straightforward pronunciation, Spanish is also one of the simplest languages to learn.

Here are some tips for pronouncing Spanish words:

C usually sounds like C in cat.

But C followed by E or I sounds like the soft TH in think.

D sounds like the soft D in soda.

G usually sounds like G in go.

But G followed by E or I sounds like the guttural

J in Baja.

H is silent.

J sounds like the guttural J in Baja.

LL sounds like Y in yes.

Ñ sounds like NI in onion.

R is trrrilled.

V usually sounds like B in bit.

Z sounds like the soft TH in think.

Spanish vowels are pronounced like this:

A sounds like A in father.

E can sound like E in get or AY in play.

I sounds like EE in seed.

O sounds like O in note.

U sounds like OO in moon.

Spanish has a few unusual signs and sounds. The Spanish add extra punctuation to questions and exclamations, like this: ¿Cómo está? (How are you?) ¡Fantástico! (Fantastic!) You’ve probably seen and heard the Spanish ñ: Think of señor and mañana. Spanish has a guttural sound similar to the J in Baja California. In the phonetics, the symbol for this clearing-your-throat sound is the italicized h.

Spanish words that end in a consonant are stressed on the last syllable, as in Madrid. Words ending in a vowel are generally stressed on the second-to-last syllable, as in amigo. To override these rules, the Spanish sometimes add an accent mark to the syllable that should be stressed, like this: rápido (fast) is pronounced rah-pee-doh.

When you’re speaking a Romance language, sex is unavoidable. Even the words are masculine or feminine, and word endings can change depending on gender. A man is simpático (friendly), a woman is simpática. In this book, we sometimes show bisexual words like this—simpático[a]—to remind you. If you’re speaking of a woman (which includes women speaking about themselves), use the a ending. It’s always pronounced “ah.” If a word ends in r, just add an a to make it feminine. For instance, an autor is a male author while an autora is female. Words ending in e, such as amable (kind), apply to either sex.

The endings of Spanish nouns and adjectives agree. Cold weather is tiempo frío, and a cold shower is a ducha fría.

Plurals are a snap. Add s to a word that ends in a vowel, like pueblo (village) and es to a word that ends in a consonant, like ciudad (city). Visit a mix of pueblos and ciudades to get the full flavor of Spain.

In northern and central Spain, Spanish sounds as if it’s spoken with a lisp. Gracias (thank you) sounds like grah-thee-ahs. As you head farther south, you’ll notice a difference in pronunciation. In southern Spain, along the coast, people thpeak without the lisp: Gracias sounds like grah-see-ahs. Listen to and imitate the Spanish people around you.

You can communicate a lot with only a few key Spanish words: hay, vale, and esto. Here’s how:

Hay (which is pronounced “eye” and means “There is”) is a handy all-purpose word that can be used as a statement (No hay problema, No problem) or a question (¿Hay cerveza? Do you have beer?). In a tapas bar, you might see a sign that says Hay caracoles (We have snails).

Spaniards use the word vale (bah-lay, meaning “OK”) all the time. When you’re pleased about something, you can say vale. When the vendor at the market gives you just the right amount, say vale. It even works as a question: If you’re not sure whether you’re getting on the right train, show your ticket to the conductor and ask ¿Vale?

When combined with pointing, esto (eh-stoh, meaning “this”) conveys worlds of meaning. If you can’t remember the word for what you want at the market, just point to it and say esto with a smile.

You’ll often hear the Spanish say por favor (por fah-bor, meaning “please”). The Spanish are friendly, polite people. Please use por favor whenever you can.

Here’s a quick guide to the phonetics used in this book:

ah like A in father
ay like AY in play
ee like EE in seed
eh like E in get
ehr sounds like “air”
g like G in go
h like the guttural J in Baja
ī like I in light
oh like O in note
or like OR in core
oo like OO in moon
ow like OW in now
oy like OY in toy
s like S in sun

Spanish Basics

Hellos and Goodbyes

Struggling with Spanish


Simply Important Words

Sign language

Spanish / English Dictionary

English / Spanish Dictionary

Be creative! You can combine the phrases in this chapter to say: “Two, please,” or “No, thank you,” or “Open tomorrow?” or “Please, where can I buy a ticket?” “Please” is a magic word in any language. If you want to buy something, you can point at it and say, Por favor (Please). If you know the word for what you want, such as the bill, simply say La cuenta, por favor (The bill, please).

Hellos and Goodbyes


Meeting and Greeting

Moving On

Hello. Hola. oh-lah
Do you speak English? ¿Habla usted inglés? ah-blah oo-stehd een-glays
Yes. / No. Sí. / No. see / noh
I don’t speak Spanish. No hablo español. noh ah-bloh eh-spahn-yohl
I’m sorry. Lo siento. loh see-ehn-toh
Please. Por favor. por fah-bor
Thank you (very much). (Muchas) gracias. (moo-chahs) grah-thee-ahs
Excuse me. Perdone. pehr-doh-nay
OK? ¿Vale? bah-lay
OK. (two ways to say it) Vale. / De acuerdo. bah-lay / day ah-kwehr-doh
Good. Bien. bee-ehn
Very good. Muy bien. moo-ee bee-ehn
Excellent. Excelente. ehk-seh-lehn-tay
You are very kind. Usted es muy amable. oo-stehd ehs moo-ee ah-mah-blay
It’s (not) a problem. (No) hay problema. (noh) ī proh-bleh-mah
It doesn’t matter. No importa. noh eem-por-tah
You’re welcome. De nada. day nah-dah
Goodbye. Adiós. ah-dee-ohs
Meeting and Greeting
Hello. Hola. oh-lah
Good morning. Buenos días. bweh-nohs dee-ahs
Good afternoon / evening. Buenas tardes. bweh-nahs tar-dehs
Good night. Buenas noches. bweh-nahs noh-chehs
Welcome! ¡Bienvenido! bee-ehn-beh-nee-doh
Mr. Señor sehn-yor
Mrs. Señora sehn-yoh-rah
Miss Señorita sehn-yoh-ree-tah
My name is _____. Me llamo _____. may yah-moh _____
What’s your name? ¿Cómo se llama? koh-moh say yah-mah
Pleased to meet you. Mucho gusto. moo-choh goo-stoh
How are you? ¿Cómo está? koh-moh eh-stah
How’s it going? (informal) ¿Qué tal? kay tahl
Very well, thank you. Muy bien, gracias. moo-ee bee-ehn grah-thee-ahs
Fine, thanks. Bien, gracias. bee-ehn grah-thee-ahs
And you? ¿Y usted? ee oo-stehd
Where are you from? ¿De dónde es usted? day dohn-day ehs oo-stehd
I am from _____. Soy de _____. soy day _____
I am / We are... Soy / Somos... soy / soh-mohs
Are you...? ¿Está usted...? eh-stah oo-stehd
...on vacation ...de vacaciones day bah-kah-thee-oh-nehs
...on business ...de negocios day neh-goh-thee-ohs

The greeting buenas días (good morning) switches to buenas tardes (good afternoon/evening) starting about 2:00 p.m. You won’t hear buenas noches (good night) until around 10 p.m.

Moving On
I’m going to _____. Voy a _____. boy ah _____
How do I go to _____? ¿Cómo voy a _____? koh-moh boy ah _____
Let’s go! ¡Vamos! bah-mohs
See you later! ¡Hasta luego! ah-stah loo-eh-goh
See you tomorrow! ¡Hasta mañana! ah-stah mahn-yah-nah
Goodbye. Adiós. ah-dee-ohs
Good luck! ¡Buena suerte! bweh-nah swehr-tay
Happy travels! ¡Buen viaje! bwehn bee-ah-hay

Struggling with Spanish

Who Speaks What?

Strictly Spanish Expressions

Who Speaks What?
Spanish español eh-spahn-yohl
English inglés een-glays
Do you speak English? ¿Habla usted inglés? ah-blah oo-stehd een-glays
A teeny weeny bit? ¿Ni un poquito? nee oon poh-kee-toh
Please speak English. Hable en inglés, por favor. ah-blay ehn een-glays por fah-bor
Speak slowly, please. Hable despacio, por favor. ah-blay dehs-pah-thee-oh por fah-bor
Repeat? ¿Repita? reh-pee-tah
I understand. Comprendo. kohm-prehn-doh
I don’t understand. No comprendo. noh kohm-prehn-doh
Do you understand? ¿Comprende? kohm-prehn-day
You speak English well. Usted habla bien el inglés. oo-stehd ah-blah bee-ehn ehl een-glays


On Sale
Sep 17, 2019
Page Count
448 pages
Rick Steves

Rick Steves

About the Author

Since 1973, Rick Steves has spent about four months a year exploring Europe. His mission: to empower Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening. Rick produces a best-selling guidebook series, a public television series, and a public radio show, and organizes small-group tours that take over 30,000 travelers to Europe annually.  He does all of this with the help of more than 100 well-traveled staff members at Rick Steves’ Europe in Edmonds, WA (near Seattle). When not on the road, Rick is active in his church and with advocacy groups focused on economic and social justice, drug policy reform, and ending hunger. To recharge, Rick plays piano, relaxes at his family cabin in the Cascade Mountains, and spends time with his son Andy and daughter Jackie. Find out more about Rick at http://www.ricksteves.com and on Facebook.

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