Learn Basic Spanish: The bits you really need to know

Posted: March 04 2021

Learning Spanish on Memrise App

When you want to learn Spanish, you should start with some basic words and phrases that can help you get by in most common situations you could find yourself in. But with so much information about learning Spanish for beginners, it’s hard to know where to start. Read on for more info on learning basic Spanish!

Why learn basic Spanish?

There are many reasons to learn basic Spanish. The main reason is to create connections with others. Being able to communicate and connect with someone in their native language is amazing! You get to experience their culture and get to know them more. When you learn basic Spanish, you also have a chance to strengthen your career prospects (you never know when it could come in handy!), gain a different perspective of the world and do some brain training all at the same time. 

It’s important to note, though, that fluency doesn’t come overnight! To speak Spanish fluently, you need to proactively make time to learn and stick with it for a long period of time. Of course, you want those interpersonal connections as quickly as possible to feel like you’re succeeding in having a decent conversation! But it does take time. When you’re just starting out, it’s more fun to make someone laugh with a silly mistake than to correctly use the imperfect subjunctive - we promise! 

The key to learning basic Spanish

The best way to learn basic Spanish is to just get started! However, we don’t think you should go out and buy the first Spanish grammar book you can see, or sign yourself up for dull-as-ditchwater robotic online classes. Those things take time, money and a LOT of your patience. Learning Spanish should fit into your schedule, not the other way round! The key to learning conversational Spanish is to practice. You should combine listening to native speakers with some key vocabulary in the form of some basic Spanish words. Add a couple of simple Spanish sentences and a few clever language hacks and you have a magic recipe for basic Spanish conversation.

Nice to meet you (said by a woman) /encantada



Spanish grammar 

Now, brace yourselves, we’re gonna say something controversial. Don’t worry (too much) about grammar. 

We know, it's weird to hear from someone that claims to know their stuff about languages! But, bear with us. We’re not saying that grammar isn’t important. Of course it is. Yet studies have shown that diving into grammar (and as such, the theories and reasoning behind why words and sentences are formed in the way that they are) too early can actually slow down your progress. 

It might seem counterintuitive, but when you’re just starting out, the most important thing is to get out of your comfort zone and keep practising the basic Spanish words and phrases that you know. If that means throwing yourself head-first into language learning, then go for it! Fine-tuning the verbs, the tenses and genders can come later - connections with people are more beneficial.  

Think of it this way: You didn’t learn to swim by reading a manual. In reality, that would be really difficult. Because even if you understand the principles of kicking your legs, moving your arms and taking deep breaths, when you jump into the water, you won’t know what’s hit you (and you’ll probably end up with a mouth full of pool water). 

Easy Spanish words and phrases to learn

Here are a few quick, basic Spanish phrases you can pick up easily. These are Castilian Spanish. Scroll down for some useful Mexican Spanish phrases!


Hi/Hello / Hola



How are you?  / Cómo estás



What’s your name? /  Cómo te llamas



My name is / Me llamo



Thank you / Gracias



Goodbye / Adiós



Nice to meet you - Encantada/encantado



Okay, Alright / Vale



I love it / Me encanta



I’m sorry / Lo siento




Pardon? / ¿Cómo dice?



I don’t like it / No me gusta


Then once you’ve got these simple Spanish sentences nailed, it’s time to head out and try them! You’ll need to put yourself out there. It might seem scary but try to forget about perfectionism. The best approach to learning conversational Spanish is “no hablo perfectamente, pero me hago entender!”, which means “I don’t speak perfectly, but I make myself understood!” Remember: everyone makes mistakes. That’s the best way to learn!

You can also learn loads more basic spanish phrases easily with our dedicated Spanish phrasebook!

Spanish Vocabulary

To master Spanish vocab, you’re probably thinking you’ve got to knuckle down and direct your learning to Spanish colours, animals and fruits and vegetables. This is fine if you want to know lots of random words or bits of information. But you’re not likely to be learning so you can play 20 Questions in Spanish (if you are, fair play - that’s dedication!)

While learning the basics like the alphabet and numbers is important, they’re not super helpful when it comes to actually having a real-life conversation, which we would assume is the goal here. If you want to expand your vocabulary, by all means, you can go and learn the topics mentioned above. But to get around Barcelona, order a beer in Madrid or just make friends with the locals, learning conversational vocabulary is going to be way more important. (See our Phrasebook linked above!)

I don't understand anything / no entiendo nada

no entiendo nada


We’ve got it all here for you, in one handy course! Check it out and tag us on social media when you’ve completed it and moved onto the next level (Look at you go! Smashing it 🚀)


Learn Spanish Variations: Mexican Spanish

Spanish has a lot of different variants, the most popular is Mexican Spanish with a whopping 121 million speakers! Why should you learn Mexican Spanish? It can open your mind to a whole selection of different cultures and it’s similar to Castilian Spanish (with a few interesting variations!)

To help you out, we’ve selected a few words and phrases and translated them into their Mexican Spanish variations, so they’ll be super handy to also know when chatting with your Mexican friends! 

NOTE: These are really casual and informal, so don’t use these in a workplace setting!

Hello / ¿Qué onda?/ Aló

How are you / ¿Cómo te va?


My name is / Me llamo

(This is the same as Spanish and fine to use in any scenario)


Where are you from? / De donde eres

(This is the same as Spanish and fine to use in any scenario)


Cool / Chido


Goodbye / Ahí nos vemos/Bai


Picking up basic Mexican Spanish words and phrases is easy. We’ve got the basics all packaged up in one place! This course contains 300 meticulously selected Spanish words and phrases, broken up into lessons by subject, to help you begin learning how to speak Spanish. 

With these basic Spanish phrases, you’ll be sure to enrich your world by learning some basic conversational Spanish vocabulary. If you found this useful, find out more about learning Spanish (or Mexican Spanish) now! 

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