Let’s chat up a few million Spaniards and have nice days

English: La Giralda at dusk, the tower of the ...

A nice place for a conversation: La Giralda at dusk, the tower of the Cathedral of Seville, as viewed from the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes in Seville, Spain. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Okay, so far we have chatted up the French and we have made acquaintance with Portuguese-speaking people in places such as Angola and Brazil as well as the mother country. My, we do get around. Now we are going to charm the pants off (it’s a metaphorical expression) those who speak Spanish, the most widely spoken of the Romance languages (see the item Five is a plucky number). And don’t forget, after this we still have to chat up the Italians and Romanians. We are embarking on what you might call a charm offensive. (To charm in Spanish is encantar, as it is in Portuguese, and obviously enchant is a related word. And if you said encantado – or encantada if you were a woman – in an exclamatory tone it is a way of saying pleased to meet you.)

So, where would we like to be chatting up the Spanish speakers? We could be in one of the big cities in Spain, such as Madrid, Barcelona or Seville, or in one of that country’s many lovely lesser known cities, such as Salamanca or Cáceres (see my travel piece on the latter here).

English: Early morning in wonderful Machu Picchu

Maravilloso: Early morning in wonderful Machu Picchu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But you could just as easily be somewhere in South America. How great it would be to have a conversation at Machu Picchu in Peru, for example, or in Quito in Ecuador or Cartagena in Columbia, which I have heard are well worth a visit. Alas, the only parts of Spanish South America I have been to are Buenos Aires and nearby Tigre, where the great Paraná River forms a delta as it empties into the Rio de la Plata.  As for the reach of Spanish, there is Central America too, of course, and it is now an important language in the United States. If those places don’t take your fancy you could head to Cuba and other islands in the Caribbean. One thing is for sure, there are many exotic places where you can practise your Spanish.

Right, let’s get started (to begin is empezar or comenzar). When you first greet someone you say buenos días, buenas tardes or buenas noches – note that the Spanish are very generous and they do not wish you one good day, afternoon or night, they wish you many. Isn’t that wonderfully generous. You can see from the agreement of nouns and adjectives that día is a masculine word and that tarde and noche are feminine. More casually you could just say hola, hello

To ask how are you?, you would say cómo está? If you are unlucky the answer to this may be no me siento bien, meaning I don’t feel very well, but hopefully you will get muy bien, gracias. Y usted?, as in very well thanks, and you?.

Less formally, if you were chatting to a friend, you would say cómo estás? and the answer back would be muy bien, gracias. Y tú? See my explanation of which ‘you’ to use.

Bien is a key word which has many uses, most of them to do with wellness, but one of the more unexpected uses is bien … bien for either … or: for example, bien en coche bien en tren, either by car or by train. And bien can mean very, as in bien caliente, meaning very warm or hot.

Incidentally (a propósito), the word for morning is mañana, and you are probably familiar with the expression hasta mañana, meaning see you tomorrow (as in the sense of until tomorrow).

Some expressions that I hope you will use often are estar de buenas, to be in a good mood, and que pase un buen dia, have a nice day.

On that cheerful note, I shall leave you. Hasta prontosee you soon. 🙂

Here is ABBA‘s Spanish version of Hasta mañana


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