Survive a Spanish Conversation with these Phrases (Part I)

Phrases in Spanish to survive a conversation

You may be familiar with the common Spanish phrases “Hola,” “¿Cómo estás?” and “¿Cómo te llamas?” but here are a few more common phrases that you may not have been taught in your Spanish 101 class in high school. These are phrases you’ll actually hear in conversation in most Spanish-speaking countries.

1. “¿Qué tal?” – Translation: “How’s it going?” or “How are things?” In Spanish, you will hear “¡Hola! ¿Qué tal?” “Muy bien. ¿Y tú?” or “Hey, how’s it going?” “Really good, you?” This phrase is easier to say than “¿Cómo estás?” so you’ll probably hear it more often. It just rolls off the tongue. 

2. “¿Cómo?” – Translation: “What?” You may already know that this word means “how?” like in “¿Cómo estás?” or “how are you?” What you may not know is that this phrase, when used on its own as a question, is a request for the partner in conversation to repeat what they just said. It might be that you didn’t hear what they said or it might be that you need them to repeat it because you didn’t believe what they said. Either way, use this phrase to get someone to repeat what they just said in Spanish.

3. “¿Qué pasó?” – Translation: “What happened?” You might hear a mother say this to her crying child. She might say “Ay, pobrecito, ¿qué pasó?” or “Oh you poor thing, what happened?” This phrase is very versatile, however. It can be used when talking with a friend who just had a job interview and you want to ask how it went. You can use it when something happened behind your back that you didn’t want to miss. 

No matter the context, you’re bound to hear these three phrases on a regular basis when you’re in a Spanish-speaking environment. If you’re interested in delving deeper into the Spanish language, check out some amazing opportunities with the Costa Rican Language Academy -CRLA, contact us at