Do you know that feeling when you’re in a foreign country and you don’t know the language? I’m pretty sure most of us want to avoid staring at someone in Peru and having no clue when they speak to us in Spanish, right?
And let’s be honest, the Peruvians love it when they get a response from us foreigners in their own language (even though we might add our typical accent to it)!
They really appreciate it when you take the time and the effort to be like one of them.
That’s why I made a small list with 20 easy Spanish words & phrases you need to know in Peru and I hope it will help you out.
1. Good morning = Buenos días (BWA-nos DEE-as)
If you want to greet someone in the morning hours, you will say that. The short version which many people are using in Peru is “ buenas” (morning).
2. Good afternoon = Buenas tardes (BWAY-nas TAR-des)
You can use it as good afternoon or good evening in Spanish, it just depends on the time when you are using it. The same here as for buenos dias, you will often just hear “buenas”.
3. Good night = Buenas noches (BWAY-nas NOTSCH-es)
If you are going to bed or if you enter a location at night in Peru, you can say “buenas noches”. The same here as for buenos dias/ tardes, you will often just hear “buenas”.
4. See you later = Hasta luego (AS-ta loo-AY-go)
You can use this word to say “see you later” and it’s a common way to bid farewell in Spanish. Normally you use the word in situations in which you are not sure when you will see the person the next time.
5. See you tomorrow = ¡Hasta mañana! (AS-ta man-YAN-a)
If you say goodbye to a person that you will see on the next day you can use this sentence.
Keeping the conversation alive – Small Talk
1. My name is … = me llamo … (me YA-mo …)
Use this to introduce yourself. It literally means “I call myself”, but in English the more natural translation and meaning is “my name is”.
2. How are you? = ¿Cómo estás? (KOH-moh eh-STAHS)
You will hear this in Spanish asked as a part of a greeting, normally after “hola” (hello) or “buenos dias” (good morning).
3. How are you? = ¿Qué tal? (kay tal)
Next to “Cómo estas”, many people are using “qué tal” to ask you how you feel or what’s up. So don’t be confused when they ask you this, it’s like saying “how are you doing” in English.
4. I’m fine, thanks = Estoy bien, ¡gracias! (eh-STOY bee-en GRA-thee-as/GRA-see-as)
To respond to the question “how are you”, you can say “Estoy bien, gracias.” It’s a polite way to answer the person’s question in Spanish.
5. I am …. years old = (Yo) tengo … años (yo TEN-go … AN-yos)
If you are in a conversation with someone and the person wants to know how old you are, than you can say to them “(Yo) tengo … años.”
Being polite in Spanish
1. Thank you (very much)! = ¡Muchas gracias! (MOO-chas GRA-thee-as/GRA-see-as) or Gracias = (GRA-thee-as/GRA-see-as)
It is always important to be polite, no matter if you speak English, German, Spanish or any other language – so this easy phrase ,“Muchas gracias”, is often really appreciated.
2. Excuse me (to get past)! = ¡Perdone! / Disculpe! (per-DON-ay/ dis-KUL-pay)
To say sorry in a polite way use “¡Perdone!” or “Disculpe!”. For example when someone is in your way and you want to pass this person.
3. You’re welcome! = ¡De nada! (de NA-da)
Often you will hear from the people “De nada” – it’s a really polite and welcoming sentence in Peru! So don’t be confused when you hear it.
4. Excuse me = ¡Perdone! / ¡Oiga! (per-DON-ay/ OY-ga)
This “excuse me” should be used when you ask for something like the direction or how to get to a certain place in Spanish.
Dealing with problems or needing some help
1. I don’t speak Spanish = No hablo español (no AB-lo es-pan-YOL)
If someone is talking to you or you are in a conversation and you have absolutely no clue what the person was saying or you don’t understand them. In this case, just say “no hablo español”.
2. Can you help me? – ¿Puede ayudarme? (PWE-day ay-oo-DAR-may)
If you are in a situation where you need help or you don’t know where you are you can say ¿Puede ayudarme? – and most of the Peruvians will help you!
3. Do you speak English? = ¿Habla inglés? (AB-las in-glAYs)
As mentioned before, the useful Spanish phrases I’m listing here are just really really basic ones. So if you want to ask the person if it’s possible to switch to English just ask them “¿Habla inglés?”.
4. Can you speak more slowly? = ¿Puede hablar más despacio? (PWE-des ab-LAR mas des-PATH-ee-o)
Some people in Peru can speak very fast Spanish and it’s really difficult to understand something. In this case, just say ¿Puede hablar más despacio? and the person will hopefully speak slower so that you can understand them better.
5. Where is the bathroom = ¿Dónde está el baño? (DON-day es-TAH el BAN-yo)
This expression saved me a couple of times in Peru my life already! So never forget this Spanish phrase – “¿Dónde está el baño?” – especially when you are at a restaurant or a bar during your time in Peru.
6. How much is this? = ¿Cuánto cuesta? (KWAN-to KWES-ta eso)
It can be really useful to say “¿Cuánto cuesta?” when you would like to know the price of something on the market or when you want to take a taxi. You can also sayl “¿Cuánto vale?” or just ”¿Cuánto es?“.
Now you’re ready for Peru!
With these 20 useful phrases in Spanish, you should be prepared to survive in Peru ;-).
For me, it was a great help, especially when visiting smaller villages or meeting with local people in Peru.
And even more than that, maybe it’s a great way to start learning a new language?
In addition, I highly recommend using Duolingo, it’s a great help to learn Spanish for your Peru trip.
It would be amazing to find out more about your previous experience in a Spanish speaking country.
Which phrases did you use to communicate with locals? I am looking forward to reading your feedback in the comments.