7 Common Words and Phrases Used in Spain

When you are first arriving to your term abroad in Spain, you may become quickly overwhelmed. Everyone is speaking fast, you hear words you do not completely understand, and it is difficult to keep up with basic conversation.

Trust me, this feeling is normal. I remember being confused with my first conversation with my landlady, when she asked me if I had a “bolí.” She then tried “bolígrafo” and I still did not understand. Eventually, she described it as a “pencil with ink” and it finally made sense. Bolígrafo. I had only learned the word “pluma” in school.

At first, I thought I had no clue about Spanish, but that was not the case. I did know Spanish, a lot of it, in fact. Yet, I was learning words and phrases more commonly used in Mexico. First step when going to Spain, learn typical words and phrases of the country.

1. Vale: One common Spanish word I learned before heading abroad was, of course, vale. I was instructed by professors that I would hear this word a lot, and I did. Upon landing in Spain, it was one of the first words I heard. Well, understood.

Vale is an interjection, which most closely means “okay” or “all right.”

2. Me cae gordo: I heard this phrase a lot during my time in Spain, and the only word I could really pick out  was “gordo,” meaning fat in English. I thought, why is everyone calling people fat?

I soon found out, through this phrase and others, that it is troublesome translating directly.  “Me cae gordo” means that someone is bothering you or you do not like a particular person.

3. Chaval: this word was confusing to me at first because I heard it in a variety of instances.

You can use chaval to describe someone who is naive and does not have a lot of experience. To me, it seems like something a baby boomer would use to describe a milennal. Y’know, those darn chavales.

Also, it is also used as a way to say “dude” amongst younger people in Spain. Another way to say “dude” (which confused me profusely) follows.

4. Tío/tía: I heard teenagers talking on the street, and every other word, I heard a tío or tía. Why are they calling each other uncle and aunt? Surely, they must mean something different in this case.

While these words do meant uncle and aunt when used formally, they mean dude informally.

Like vale, this is a very important word to add to your vocabulary.

5. Ser la leche: you will hear a lot of phrases related to milk while you are in Spain. This one is the most common. While it literally means “to be the milk,” it has a much more complex meaning.

It can either mean one of two extremes, “that’s awesome” or “that’s disgusting.”

6. Mono: I wondered why everyone was throwing the word “monkey” in the middle of their sentences, and simply put, they were not. Mono means cute or adorable in Spain.

Qué mono, ¿no?

7. Guay: I knew every possible way of saying “cool” everywhere besides, y’know, Spain. Quickly, I discovered the words I was using to say cool, awesome, great, etc., that I had learned from my Spanish classes were no longer cool in Spain.

In Spain, you use guay.

I hope you enjoyed this quick, little list of common Spanish words and phrases. I keep thinking of more to add, but decided I will split it up into future posts.

Do you have any funny stories from hearing certain Spanish words and phrases for the first time? I would love to hear your experiences with Castilian Spanish (and so I do not feel like the only one who was completely clueless with it, haha.)

Hasta luego!

 

6 Words to Master the Murcian Accent

I was honestly convinced that I didn’t know any Spanish when I first arrived to Murcia for my semester. However, I was also living in Murcia, a region known for its interesting (to say the least) accent. As for how the Murcian accent is interpreted, take a look at this tweet below:

In addition to having a very difficult accent to understand, there are also a lot of words that are unique to Murcian Spanish. I am going to list a few words that I heard and learned about during my time in Murcia.

1. Acho: one word that I was told I would hear a lot of in Murcia before going abroad was this one. I honestly heard it at least once everyday.

I heard it so often walking down the streets to university, particularly paired with “tío/a” (dude).

What does acho even mean though? There really is no meaning, but I have interpreted the word as a way to call to someone’s attention.

Murcians are so associated with saying acho, that they took it upon themselves to make a “pataticas fritas” (also, a super Murcian way of saying potato chips) brand called Acho.

2. Bonico: in the Whatsapp group for my classes, I would all too often see this word surface in the chat. I had absolutely no idea what it meant for awhile, but knew that it had to have meant something positive. My classmates always used the word in response to something good happening or a picture of a cute dog.

I later came to out that this word means nice, friendly, or cute.

It actually turned out to be one of my favorite Murcian word and was one of few that I adopted into my everyday vocabulary. It seems to be used across other parts of Spain, as well. If you are interested words that are commonly used throughout Spain, check out my blog post on that here!

3. Pijo: this one is a bit confusing to explain, because there are so. many. different ways this word can be used. This word can be used for just about anything.

By itself, it can be used to emphasis something, show indifference, express quantity or speed.

When “pijo” is combined with other words, it can mean something totally different.

Confusing? I remember my mentor who had gone to Murcia the year before me, telling me about the words I heard. She had no idea how to explain this one. After hearing it for myself, I do not either.

It is just one of those words you just have to hear for yourself to understand, or at least, pretend like you do. This one is also used in other parts of Spain, but sometimes, has a way different meaning.

4. Chico: you are probably thinking, is this not already a word in Spanish? You are right. It typically means “boy,” but of course, Murcians tend to use this word a little bit differently. What else would you expect with good ol’ murciano?

Chico in this case means “pequeño,” or small. Once you think about it, saying chico to describe something small does make a lot of sense, which is unlike other Murcian words. I am looking at you, pijo.

5. Fuste: if something does not make much sense to you or is not all that funny, you use the word “fuste” to express this feeling.

Fuste is a noun, so you use it in instances such as: “¡Qué poco fuste tiene ese chiste!” At first I thought it was a tú verb in past-tense, but nope!

6. Chuminá: another way to express an annoyance, but more murciano. How else would is you would say something bothers you?

Of course, the above list is not exhaustive. There are so many “palabras murcianas,” I could not even begin to possibly list them all.

If you have ever been to Murcia, what are some of your favorite Murcian words? Or, if you have gone to other regions of Spain, what are some unique words of that region? I would love to hear your responses.