Basic Spanish Vocabulary (A Knowledge Checklist)

Lots of people will tell you that learning a new language is easy. And it can be . . . but it usually isn’t. The problem isn’t with the actual difficulty of the language, though. The problem is that we don’t practice. Unless you live among native speakers, it’s a problem that’s not easily remedied. My suggestion: every few months (more if you’re in a hurry), play some audio recordings of words with translations or children’s music in the car on repeat. Language learning is not an all-at-once thing; you’ll need lots of time and repetition to let it sink in. If possible, be casual about it, but be consistent. If you’re a person who enjoys reading and writing, copy your word lists onto flash cards or foldable lists. Personally, I spend countless hours writing and rewriting my lists when in full-on language learning mode. You can also make games out of your vocabulary words–all kinds of fun games. At the end of this post I provide a story you can tell your kids that incorporates practice and repetition (theirs or yours).

Complete Beginners’ Spanish Word List


Hello: Hola Good morning: Buenas dias Good afternoonL Buenas tardes Good evening: Buenas noches Goodbye: Adios; chau What is your name?: Como se llama? My name is …: Me llamo; mi nombre es … Pleasure to meet you. Mucho gusto. How are you: Como esta (for a less familiar person); Como estas (for a more familiar person); Como esta usted (for a formal situation or older person) Where are you from: De donde viene I’m from …: Soy de … See you later: Hasta luego. See you tomorrow: Hasta ma­nana

Almost-Free Words

Important: Importante Interesting: Interesante Perfect: Perfecto Excellent: Excellente


Thank you very much: Muchas gracias You’re welcome: De nada Execuse Me: Disculpe; perdoname; con permiso Goodness: Caramba Please: Por favor I’m sorry: Lo siento Forgive me: Disculpe Help me: Ayudame Danger: Peligro Forbidden: Prohibito No smoking: No se fuma Fire: Fuego; incendio Emergency: Emergencia Hurry up: Appurase; rapido For sale: Se vende For rent: Se alguila Look: Mira Stop: Pare Watch out: Cuidado That’s fine: Esta bien Go away: Dejeme Bienvenido: Welcome Oops: Opa (an expression from Greek) True: Verdad Of course: Por supresto It’s okay/don’t worry about it: Tranquila; no se preculpe Are you sure: Seguro What do you mean: Como How do you say: Como se dice At what time: A que hora Qual es: Which is it

Small Words

Me, I—mi, yo You—tu (familiar) usted They, them; ellos o ellas This—-esta That—este Now—ahora Because—por que But—pero For—para To—a Actually—-En verdad The—la, e, los, las (depending on gender) In—por, en We/us—nosotrous a—un, una never—nunca only—solo alone—solamente maybe—quisas o tal vez Equal—iqual Without—sin She-he—-ella, el Their—su Her’s/his.—la , le Your—tu (familiar form) Other—otra Also—tambien Yes/no —si y no (shaking one finger is the most common form of no in South America—the index finger) Therefore—por lo tanto Then—entonces Of the —del Per—por Like/similar to—paracido Here—(different words used depending on distance aqui, aji, alla) Together —-conmigo, contigo (familiar) Quite—bastante


To be—Ser (permanent): soy, son, es; estar (less permanent): estoy, esta To do—hacer…hago, hace To feel—Sentir sineto , sienta To be there—hay To want—querer, quiero, quiere, quieres To like—Gusta, me gusto, se gusta To go (irregular verb) voy, vas, viene, To live—vivir—vivo, vives, viva To eat—comer como, comes, come To drink—For non-alcoholic beverages: Tomar: tomo, tomes, tome; For alcohol: Beber …bebo, bebes, bebe To cost—cuesta To carry/transport—Llevar To Exit—salida( noun) To Arrive:—Llegar, llego, llegas, llega To park: Estacionar To Wait: Esperar, espero, espero, esperamos To speak: Hablar, hablo, hables, habla To say—digo, dices, dice To stay put—quedar, quedense (command form) To Help—ayudar, ayudo, ayudas, ayuda To be able/capable—Puedar, puedo, puedes, puede To understand—entender entiendo, entiendes, entiende To comprehend—Comprender, comprendo, comprendes, comprende To Hope—Esperar, espero, esperes, espere To know/be acquainted with (person) Conocer, conozco, conoces, conoce To know (facts) Saber, se, sabes, sabe To charge/exchange—Cambiar, cambio, To travel—viajer, viajo, viege To close—Cierrar to find—encountrar to wash—lavar, lavo (clothes) to clean—limpiar, limpio, to buy—comprar, compro, ustead compra to sit—sentar to smoke—fumar to take—tomer to walk—cambiar-=–cambio, cambias, cambia to search for—buscar, busco, buscas, busca to see—ver veo, ve To give—dar, doy, da To pay—pagar, pago, paga To sign—firmar, firmo, firme To need—necesitar, necesito, necesita To cook—cocinar cocino, cocina To reserve—reservar, To confirm—confirmar Include—incluye To take a photo—sacrar una foto To Call—llamar, llamo Prohibitied—prohibito To accept—acceptar, acepto To sleep—dormir,duermo,duerma To work—trabajar, trabajo, trabaja To think—pensar, penso To believer—creer, creo, cree To stop—parar To return—volver To sell—vender,vendo, vende To exit—salir, salgo To come—venior, vegno, viene To lose—perder, pierdo, pierde To win—ganar, gano, unstead gana To study—estudiar, studio To dance—baillar, bailo, bailas To sing—cantar, canto, canta To play—jugar..juego, juega To hate—odiar To love—-amar, encantar, encanto, encanta


Large—grande, Small—pequeno Afraid—austado Fast—rapido Slow—despacio o despacito Good—bueno, bien Bad—mal, malo Pretty—bonita Handsome—guapo (word also means hard working in some contexts) Fat—gordo Thin—flaco Tall—alto Short—corto Open—abierto Closed—cerrado Personal—personal Better—mejor Best—primer Hot—caliente (refers to heat, piquante refers to spicy) Cold—frio Exact—exacto Special—especial The same—mismo Different—differente Cheap—burato Expensive—carro Necessary—necesito (this is a verb, not an adjective) Necesito eso, or necesita eso (you need this) Not necessary—no necesito Joven—young Difficult—dificil Easy—facil Modern—moderna Old—viejo Classic—classico Weak—debil Strong—fuerte Oldest—mejor Youngest—menor Ready—listo Light—ligero Heavy—pesada Perfect—perfecto Excellent—excelente Private—privado Stupid—estupido Smart—intelligente Late—tarde New—nuevo Logical—logico Strange/weird—extrano Interesting—interesante Wet—mojado Dry—seca Second hand—segundo Busy—ocupado Quiet—tranquilo Dangerous—peligro Safe—seguro Available—disparsible Tired—cansado Broken—roto Important—importante Sure—seguro Worried—preoccupado Fun—divertito Happy—felix Sad—triste Shy—-timido Often—frequentamente

People and Animals

Grandfather—abuelo Gandmogther—abuela Father—padre Mother—madre Secretary—secretaria Waiter—amarero Miss—senorita Mister—senior Mrs—senora Family—familia Relative—familiares Police—policia Military—gendarmo Everyone—todos las personas No on—nadia Person—persona Boy—nino Girl—nina Children—ninas, ninos Baby—bebe Husband—espouso Wife—espousa Girlfriend—novia Boyfriend—novio Dog—perro Cat—gato Cousins—primos Nieces/nephews—sobrainas,sobrinos Uncle/aunt—tio, tia Men/man– hombres, hombre Women/woman—mujeres Daughters—hijas


TV—television Photo—foto Photographer—fotographia Photocopy—fotocopia Clothes—-ropa Something—algo Thing—cosa Book—libro Pair of glasses—lentes Possession—posesion Watch—reloj Parts—partalores, partes Computer—computadora Shirts—camisas Makeup—machichoa Jeans—jeans Purse—carteras Key—llave Toilets—servicios Garbage cans—basero Bag—bolsa Light—luz Powder—polvo Gift—regalo Repellant—repellente Everything—qualquier cosa


One—uno Two—dos Three—tres Four—quatro Five—cinco Six—seis Seven—siete Eight—ocho Nine—nueve 10—diaz 11—once 12—doce 13—trese 14—catorce 15—quince 16—dieceseis 17—diecesiete 18—dieceocho 19 —diecenueve 20 —viente 21…vienteuno 30—triente 31—trienteuno 40—quarenta 41—quarentauno 50—cincuenta 51—cicuentauno 60—sesenta 70—setebta 80 —ochenta 90—noventa 100—cien 1000—mil 1 million—un million 101—cineto uno 900—noveciento 1100—mil cien 1300 mil trecientos 200—doscientos 300—trescientos 400—cuatrocientos 500—quiencientos 600—seiscientos 700—setecientos 800—ochocientos

Days and Months

Sunday—domingo Monday—lunes Tuesday—martes Wednesday—miercoles Thursday—jueves Friday—viernes Saturday—sabad January—Enero February—Febuero March—Marzo April—Abril May—Mayo June—unio July—Julio August—Agosto September—Septiembre October—Octubre November—Noviembre December—Deciembre

Question Words

What—que What is it—que es esto Where —donde esta How much—cuanto? Who—quien Who is it?—quien es Which—cual How—como Why—por que Why not—por que no What time is it? Que hora es?


Black—negro White—blanco Blue—azul Red—rojo Yellow—amarillo Green—verde (careful in using this description, though: some things that are green are considered dirty, i.e. pornography or a “green” magazine) Pink—rosado Purple—purpuereo Orange—naranja


Museum—museo Bookstore—libroria Bakery—panaderia Department store—almacia Country—campo (refers to terrain/geography) City—ciudad Home—casa Exchange store—casa de cambio Address—direction Movies—cine Restaurant—ristorante Parking lot—estacionamonte Café—cafeteria Bar—taberna Bank—banko Hotel—hotel Hostess—hostel Room—cuarto Bathroom—bano Bus stop—parade de autobus Entrance—entrada Exit—salida Supermarket—supermercados Mall—cinto commercial Shoe store—zapateria Hospital—hospital Police station—comisaria Post office—el correo Pharmacy—farmacia Embassy—embajada Place—lugar, parte, locale School—escuela secendaria (secondary school); escuela escuela primaria (grade school) Building—edificio

Body Parts

Body—cuerpo Face—cara Eyes—ojos Nose—nariz Mouth—boca Hands—manos Arms—armas Legs—piernas Feet—pies Stomach—estomago Hair—cabello Skin—piel Head—cabeza

Foods and Drinks

Hungry—hambre Thirsty—sed Food—comida To eat—comer Drink –beber o tomar Coffee—café Milk—leche Cream—crema Water—aqua Ice—hielo Miner water—aqua mineral Sugar—azucar Tea—te Soft drink—gaseosa Bottle of wine—una botella de vino Red/white wine—tino /blanco vino Salt—sal Pepper—pimiento Mustard—mostaza Oil—accete Vinegar—vinagre Garlic—ajo Soup—sopa Noodles—fideos Chicken—pollo Meat—carne Vegetables—verduras Fruit—fruitas Seaford—mariscos Fish—pescado Cold veggie soup—gazpacho Banana—banana Orange—naranja Apple—manzana Tangerine—mandarina Pineapple—pina o anana Mango—mango Avocado—aquacate Onion—cebolla Turkey—pabo Tomato—tomato Sausages—chorizo Ham—jamon Rice—arroz Corn—maiz Beans—frijoles Juice—jugo Lemonade—limonada Cider—cidra Flour—harina Bread—-pan Ice cream—helado Chocolate—chocolate Vanilla—vanilla Strawberry—fresa Pastry—pastel Cookies—galletas Custard—flan Milk shake—batido de leche Espresso—un expreso Cheese—queso Eggs—huevos Butter—mantequilla o Manteca Margarine—margarina Whisky—whiskey Beer—cerveza Alcohol—alcohol Tuna—atun Lobster—langusta Sardines—sardines Salmon—salmon Bacon–tocino Broth—caldo Stew—guiso Steak—chursasco, carne BBQ—churrasco , churro Tenderloin—tourneados Roast beef—rosbef Pork—cerdo Toast—tostada Grilled—parrilla Baker—Horneado, Mashed potatoes—pueredo papas Potatoes—papas (careful to use las papas because the word is feminine. El Papa refers to the pope) French Fries—papas fritas Chicken breast—suprema de pollo Salami—salarme Breakfast—desayuno Lunch—almuerzo Soysauce—salsa d soya Liquids—liquidos Fry—frita Grill—parilla Salad—ensalada

Restaurant Words

Plate—un plato Cup—una taza/copa Glass—vaso Teaspoon—una cuchariva Spoon—cuchara Fork—tenedor Knkife—cuchillo A can —una lata Box—una lajo A jar—un pomo Menu—la carta What is today’s special?—Cual es el plato del dia Reservation—reservacion Table—mesa I’dlike to order—quisiera pedar Bill—-la cuenta Fast to go—comida para llevar Fast food—comida rapida


Where/there—aqui, aji Here is—aqui tiene Right—derecha Left—izquierda Straight—derecho One block—una cuadrenta Turn—gire Corner—ciquina Opposite from—frenta a Next to—junto a In Front—frente In back—al antes Everywhere—en todas partes No where—ninguna parte Far—lejos Close—cerca North—norte South—sur East—este West—oeste Highway—carretera Lost—perdido Upstairs—arriba Downstairs—abajo Separate—aparte Together—contigo,conmigo


Time—tiempo Hour—hora Day—dia Week—semana Month—la mesa Year—ano Today—hoy Evening/night—noche First—primero Second—segundo Third—tercero Last—ultimo Morning—la manana Yesterday—ayer Tomorrow—manana Before—antes After—despues Later—despues, lluego Earlier—antes Every day—todos las dias Always—siempre Never—nunca 1:00—una hora 1;15—la una y quince/cuarta 1:30—uno y media 1:45—cuarto al dos 1:01—la una y una Date—fecha The end—el final Finished—finis


More—mas Less—menos All—todo Some—unos None—nada That’s all—eso es todo Kilogram—kilo Half kilo—medio kelo Dozen—docena Approximately—approximente A bit of—un poco de Number—numero Single—individual Double—doble Too much/too many—demasiado Not enough—no bastante Enough—bastante Many/much—mucho Very—muy A little—poco, poquito

Money Words

Money—dinero Dollars—dolares Travelers checks—chequs de viajero Exchange rate—cambio Commission—interes Fee—tarrif Bills—billetas Small change—suelto Signature—la firma The payment—le debo Credit card—tarjeta de credito Cheap—barrata Price—precio Discount—discuento ATM—el cajero

Nature Words

Sun—soil Trees—arbol Sky—cielo Sea—mar Mountains—montanas River—rio Lake—lago Beach—playa View—vista Rain—lluevia Tortoise—tortuga Animals—animales Cockroach—cucaracha Mosquito—los mosquitos

Medical Words

Medicine—medicina Doctor—-El Doctor Ambulance—ambulancia Nurse—enferma What’s wrong>–Que le pasa I’m sick—Me siento enfermo Headache—dolor de la cabeza Flu—la gripe It hurts here—me dula aqui I feel dizzy—tengo mareos nauseas Pregnant—embarazada Pain—dolor Stomach ache—dolor to estomacho Backache—dolor de espalda I feel—siento Diarrhea—diarrhea Antibiotics—antibioticsos Allergic—alergico Vaccinated—vacundo (a)

Travel Words

Passport—passaporte Documents—documentes Bag—bolsa Vacation—vacaciones Suitcases—maletas Business trip—viaje de negocios Baggage cart—carnto para maletas Room—cuarto, habitacion Single bed—habatacion con una sola cama Reservation—reserve Shower—ducha Private bath—bano privado Oceanview—vista del mar Motocycle—moto Taxi—taxi Bus—autobus Car—auto, coche Truck—camion Station—estacion Ticket—boleta, pasaje Roadmap—mapa de carreteras, plano de ciudad Boat—boats, Port—puerto Cabin—camarote Subway—metro One-way ticket—billete de ida Round-trip ticket—billete de y vuelta Departure—partida Arrival—llegada Tourism/tourist—turismo, turista

Miscellaneous Words

American—nortemaricano(a) Englis—ingles Spanish0—espanol Grammatical—gramatica Meaning—signfico Questions—preguntas One more time—ulta vez Femine—feminia Information—informacion Life—vida County –pais (refers to actual country, not a general description) Age—edad Word—palabra World—mundo Death—muerte Race—carrera Competition—competencia Party—fiesta Free-libre Game—juego Holiday—fiesta Vacation—vacaciones Power—poder Religion—religion Catholic—catholico Protestant—protestante Drama—drama Information—informacion Friendship—amistad

“The Spanish Backyard” Story and Game

Harriet and Toby were just regular kids, living in just a regular house. Still, they had what many people don’t: they had a wonderful backyard. Sometimes their yard was a wide, deep ocean. Other times it was a space station. But Harriet and Toby’s favorite times of all were when the yard became a magical kingdom far away, where anything they spoke in Spanish appeared. The catch: they had to speak the sentence properly three times in a row. One day, Harriet and Toby were hungry. They were waiting for their parents to finish cooking a large meal. So, they decided to make food appear in their yard–every kind of food they could imagine. What do you think Harriet and Toby asked for? What would you want to make appear? Note to teachers: Here, have your students make sentences with the word list you’re working on currently. Change the scenario to fit the types of words you want to practice. Each time the student gets the sentence right, draw what they said or say, “Look! It’s a …”] Harriet and Toby continued playing The Spanish Backyard until the sun was all the way down. Read the rest of this series at Knowledge Checklists: Filling My Educational Gaps, One Subject at a Time. And peruse my full recommended reading list at Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday.


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More to Read:

Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday

Knowledge Checklists: Filling My Educational Gaps, One Subject at a Time

200 Spiritual Practice Success Stories

Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby: A Self-Help Novel


    1. Nice to hear. Thanks! I worked hard on this and was going to make it into a children’s book series, but well, never happened. I like it as part of my homeschooling series.

  1. I have found, traveling in both France and in Spanish-speaking countries, that if you can ask where the bathroom is, say “good morning,” “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” “I’m sorry” and maybe ask for the bill, you can pretty much get by. Food names help. Oh, and “do you speak English?” in their language is the first thing to ask. Google translate got me through when my husband was injured in France, because “my husband has hurt his leg on the metro” was not in my French vocabulary. If you at least try, people meet you where you are.

    1. I agree! I used to write and rewrite word lists while traveling of all the basics like these. That and practice was enough. Language isn’t that hard, really; the human brain is positively awesome at it.

    1. Awesome, thanks! I am often wondering if my education and book posts are too far off-topic for my audience. But this one has been received well, so who knows?