Frequently used phrases

1 March 2017

Frequently Used Phrases

When I first thought about learning a new language, I thought the most difficult thing would be the grammar. While grammar is tricky, I’ve found the hardest thing to be the vocabulary. You can understand how the grammar works all you want, but it is meaningless when you don’t know the words. Considering I am quite new to learning Spanish, my vocabulary is limited, which provides a space for repetitive phrases. I wanted to provide a list of some of those phrases with an example to go along with it.

  1. Estoy lleno (I am full): After a giant plate of beans, several tortillas, a couple pieces of bread for my first serving, and maybe some pineapple, my mom will ask, “¿algo más?” In which I usually respond with, “estoy lleno,” because if I eat another bite, I’d probably explode.
  2. Si (yes): The word I usually use when asked a question.
  3. ¿Que? (What?): The thing I ask when I realize it wasn’t a yes or no question.
  4. Otra vez (another time): When I need to hear a question or answer another time.
  5. Buen provecho: a phrase you use before a meal, during the meal, when you pass people eating, and to dismiss yourself from the table. It is similar to “bon appetite” or “enjoy your meal.”
  6. Perdón (excuse me/sorry): Used when you have to shove your way off the seemingly impossible packed buses. Also used when you don’t understand a word or phrase even though you desperately want to communicate.
  7. Entonces (Then/So): The Spanish equivalent to “like” or “um.” Used often when you’re trying to think of the next word to say.
  8. Mi estómago me duele (my stomach hurts me): Usually used when someone is infected with giardia or amoebas and needs to tell their family that you’re vomiting or having diarrhea but can’t communicate that properly to them.
  9. Buenos días/tardes/noches (good morning/afternoon/night): When you pass someone on the street you say one of these things… but it’s always a mystery what the proper times are to say which one.
  10. Muchas Gracias (Thank you so much): Any time someone does something good for me, which is a lot. Like everyday when my family puts a delicious meal in front of me or when my host mom helps we get through my sickness. When the man in front of me at the panadería purchased me a pan de agua without ever speaking to me. Or when my host dad in the K’ekchi village showed me awesome photo locations and when he presented me with a hand woven book cover. And those don’t even count for the times it hasn’t been said, but am incredibly thankful for. Like all the times I laugh with my family, whether it is laughing at a mistake I made in Spanish (like saying I cut up a horse when I meant to say onion) or playing a high-tension card game. Or the fact that I feel like I have a real relationship with my teacher here and can talk to her about anything. Even the old woman that smiles at the five gringos walking past her every morning, saying buenos días, I am grateful for.

Despite the language barrier, I have seen, time and time again, the love and compassion of the people here. It has truly been an eye-opening and awe-inspiring experience.

-Riley Swartzendruber