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Basics in Spanish that you must know to get around Bogotá

Basics in Spanish
Valeria Garbin

Valeria Garbin

I was born in Venezuela, but I've also lived in Mexico, Colombia, and Belgium. One of my passions is politics and Human Rights, so I studied International Relations and specialized in Human Rights and Development. My other passion is traveling and food, and writing about it makes my days. Bogotá is a city that I love! and I hope you can love it too through my articles, and of course, when you come and see it with your own eyes!

Wherever you go it is important that you know some basic words and phrases in the local language. If you do not know any Spanish at all this article is the solution for your trip to Colombia!

Learning a new language can be complicated, but also very fun. One of the riches of traveling is learning new things, and since you decided to come to this incredible country called Colombia, why not learn some basic phrases and words in Spanish?

Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world, and it is very different in each country that it is spoken, and even within the same country it always has variations. Colombia is one of the countries with the most neutral accent so it may be the best option you can find to learn Spanish.

Let’s begin!

Basics

First of all, you will need to know some basic words and phrases that will help you on any occasion, like “hello” and “thank you.” Some of these you may already know but remembering them does not hurt:

  • Hello, hi: Hola
  • How are you?: ¿Cómo estás?
  • Thank you: Gracias
  • I`m sorry: Lo siento
  • Excuse me: Discúlpame
  • Bye: Chao   
  • Do you speak English?: ¿Hablas inglés?
  • I don’t understand: No entiendo
  • I don’t speak Spanish: No hablo español

To move around

I´m not going to lie, Bogotá is a big city and moving around it can be tricky. Our article Bogotá Basics for Transportation and Apps to help you get around Bogotá  can help you with that, but also knowing a few words can make your life so much easier, so pay close attention:

  • Basic words

    • Bus: Autobus, bus
    • Taxi: Taxi
    • Bus stop: Parada de bus
    • Destination: Destino
    • Address: Dirección
    • North: Norte
    • South: Sur
    • East: Este
    • West: Oeste
    • Street: Calle
    • Number: Número
  • To the taxi driver (How taxis work in Bogotá):

    • Could you please take me to this address: ¿Me puedes llevar a esta dirección por favor?
    • How much do I owe you?: ¿Cuánto te debo?
  • If you are lost on the street:

    • Could you please help me find this address?: ¿Me puedes ayudar a encontrar esta dirección por favor?
    • I`m looking for the hotel “Name of your hotel” could you please help me?: Estoy buscando el hotel “Name of your hotel” ¿podrías ayudarme por favor?
    • Excuse me, if I want to go (North, South, West, East) which way should I walk?: Disculpa, si quiero ir al (Norte, Sur, Oeste, Este) ¿hacia dónde tengo que caminar?
  • For the bus:

    • Excuse me, I have to go to this stop “name of your stop” could you please tell me when I have to get off?: Disculpa, tengo que ir a esta parada “name of your stop” ¿puedes por favor avisarme cuándo bajar?
    • Excuse me, does this bus take me to “place you want to go”?: Disculpa, ¿este autobus me lleva a “place you want to go”?
    • Excuse me, I want to buy a “Tu llave” card (card to use the public transport): Disculpa, quiero comprar una tarjeta Tu Llave.

To eat and drink

One of the best things you can expect from Bogotá is all the wonders that you are going to eat and drink, as you can see in our article Food you must try in Bogotá and  The Best drinks to try in Bogotá. You do not want to miss any of it, so here are some phrases that will keep your belly happy:

  • Basic words:

    • Beer: Cerveza or Pola (Yes, I know I put beer as the first one, but it is the important one right?)
    • Food: Comida
    • To eat: Comer
    • To drink: Tomar
    • Water: Agua
    • Glass: Vaso
    • Cocktail: Coctel
    • Cheers!: Salud!
    • Meat: Carne
    • Chicken: Pollo
    • Fish: Pescado
    • Rice: Arroz
    • Pasta: Pasta
    • Cheese: Queso
  • At a restaurant/bar:

    • Excuse me, do you have a menu in English?: Disculpa, ¿tienes un menú en inglés?
    • Excuse me, could you bring me “what you want”: Disculpa, me podrías traer “what you want”
    • Can you bring me the check please?: ¿Me puedes traer la cuenta por favor?
    • Can I pay with card?: ¿Puedo pagar con tarjeta?
    • Excuse me, where is the restroom?: Disculpa, ¿Dónde queda el baño?
    • It was delicious!: Estaba delicioso!

To shop

Shopping is always fun (Best Shopping Malls in Bogotá), but what if you can not find something and you don`t know how to ask !? Do not worry, we have you covered

  • Basic words

    • To shop: Comprar
    • Shopping mall: Centro comercial
    • Store: Tienda
    • Clothes: Ropa
    • Shoes: Zapatos
    • Size: Talla
    • Handcrafts/Souvenirs: Artesanías
    • Pants: Pantalones
    • Shirt: Camiseta
    • Blouse: Blusa
  • In the shop

    • Excuse me I`m looking for “whatever you want”: Disculpa, estoy buscando “Whatever you want”
    • Do you have this in size “xx”?: ¿Tienes esto en talla “xx”?

For emergencies

It never hurts to know some words and phrases for emergencies (Bogotá: All you need to know), you probably won’t use them on your trip, or at least we hope not, but just in case, here they are

  • Basic words:

    • Emergency: Emergencia
    • Help: Ayuda
    • Fire: Fuego
    • Police: Policía
    • Firefighters: Bomberos
    • Hospital: Hospital
  • If you have an emergency

    • Can you please help me?: ¿Me puedes ayudar por favor?
    • Can you please call the emergency number?: Puedes por favor llamar al número de emergencia?
    • Could you please tell me where is the nearest police station? : Me puedes decir por favor dónde está la estación de policía más cercana?
    • Could you please tell me where is the nearest Hospital?: Me puedes decir por favor dónde está el hospital más cercano?

Spanish away!

In this article you have the words and phrases that are important to know for your visit in Bogotá, just to fend for yourself. If you want to really learn Spanish you should visit the best institute for it in Bogotá: Whee Institute. Also, this video can help you with your pronunciation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7FT7yyBVDg&t=345s

Now, what are you waiting for? Don’t be shy and Spanish away! And be ready to have a great trip!

Share with us other words and phrases you think would be important to know. And If you want to know more about Bogotá, all you can do in the city and important information for your visit just go to our website and you will find everything you need.

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