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Small talk in Spanish: tips and vocabulary

Small talk in Spanish: tips and vocabulary

Do you know the Spanish terms ‘la plática’, ‘el palique’, ‘el parloteo’ and ‘la charla’? They can all mean ‘small talk’! Small talk is an informal type of discourse or’ chatting that does not cover any functional topics of conversation or any transactions that need to be addressed. In essence, it is polite and informal conversation about unimportant things. Although this sounds like an easy thing to do – although not for every one-, it ends up a little more complicated to do in another language, like Spanish. Read: Small talk in Spanish: tips and vocabulary.

SMALL TALK in Spanish: The basics

How do you start a conversation in Spanish, and how do you keep the conversation going? What Spanish phrases can you use to break the ice? How do you make “small talk” in Spanish?

First of all: don’t ever be afraid of ‘chatting’ or making small talk in Spanish and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Generally spoken, native speakers of Spanish are friendly people, interested in talking and knowing other people. Apart from that: if you have committed to learning Spanish, remember speaking Spanish is the only way to learn to … speak Spanish. So the more opportunities you have to talk in Spanish outside your online Spanish classes, in real live, the better.

Speak Spanish Quickly

In this article, we will teach you all the basics about small talk in Spanish you need! Hopefully, this will help you to be more relaxed and less stressed out when to go to that party, meeting, or dinner.. Or any other moment when you have to make small talk in Spanish.

SMALL TALK IN SPAIN

General tips for small talk (in any language- even your own)

1. Act like you are speaking to a friend
Don’t give too much attention to the fact that you are talking to a stranger. This trick can alleviate anxiety, and it will help you become more friendly to people.

2. Assume the best
This is a great tip, not only for small talk! We recommend you always assume the best of people: assume that they are nice and friendly and you will notice that people will automatically be more familiar towards you.

3. Relax
Or at least, try to relax. Don’t worry if you have said some awkward things…the person you are talking with will not even remember this after the conversation. Probably you are much more critical of yourself than others are of you. Awkward moments or silences aren’t that big a deal.

4. Focus on your conversation partner
Research has shown that most people love to talk about themselves. So if you are done talking about the weather, ask some questions about the person you are talking with.

5. Give compliments and search for connections
It is nice when you feel connected with someone; this can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. If you like something, for example, the same music, say it. And give compliments to the person you are talking to. For example, if someone speaks different languages, say how amazing you think that is.

6. Show interest
Show that you are interested in what your conversation partner has to say. You can try to talk about a subject that you are both interested in, to avoid that one of you gets bored.

If you go and travel or live in a Spanish speaking country, prepare yourself a little. Because small talk in Spain or Latin America isn’t the same as in, for instance, the USA, Europe, Australia or Japan. It is recommended to consider the cultural differences.

If you meet a Spanish person for the first time, it will probably be a “formal” introduction. This is common in the Spanish culture. People will give you a handshake and address you politely. Once you know a person better, it is still common to give handshakes, but also hugging or kissing on the cheek is very normal. Personal appearance is important in Spain. Generally people will dress elegantly and conservatively. Of course, there are differences between generations and the different provinces; city-life is always different from life in the smaller towns and villages.

Religion
Spain is one of the more religious countries in Europe. Maybe you come from a less religious country or environment. If you meet a Spaniard for the first time and don’t know their religious background, better be safe and don’t swear or use “the Lord’s name” in vain. On the other hand, the Spaniards themselves use rather ‘foul language’ (we will not quote here…).

Meet People in Spain

Gestures
If you’ve been to Spain, you’ll notice that the people talking to you tend to stand close to each other. Also, they will accompany conversations with a wide range of gestures. As you are not native to Spain, it is ok not always to understand these gestures. Gestures can vary from region to region. Don’t hesitate to ask about it if you have any doubts. Most Spanish people are happy to explain the meaning of the gestures to you a bit more.

Read about Argentine Sign Language

Regions
In regards to Spanish regions, be aware of which part you are in. Some Spaniards can be very proud of the region they live in or the province they are from. Therefore, it is good to have some sensitivity for this when talking to people from Spain. For example, someone from Basque can be offended if you confuse them with a Catalan. And people in Barcelona certainly feel very different from people in Madrid (and the rest of Spain….).

Interrupting
In Spain, if you interrupt someone, it is not necessarily a sign of bad upbringing. On the contrary, it is a sign that the person you are talking with is interested and paying attention to the conversation. So don’t be concerned if someone interrupts you and certainly don’t take it as an insult. Spaniards interrupt each other frequently and talk at the same time.

Finally, it is recommended not to talk too much about your career and professional successes during the first conversations with a Spaniard, it can be seen as bragging. Instead, show off your character and personal qualities to earn people’s respect!

SMALL TALK IN LATIN AMERICA

Learn Spanish Online

Latin America is very, very big! Every country and region has its own (Latin) culture, and there are quite a few differences between the different countries (and also, between the regions of one specific country).

On the other hand, there are similarities too. Based on some general thoughts about ‘the Latin culture’, we’ll give some tips about speaking ‘small talk’ Spanish in Latin America.

Hugs and kisses
In Latin America, it is very normal to meet people with hugs and kisses (in Argentina and Uruguay, this is both for women and men). Although it can be a bit uncomfortable if you are not used to it, it will be appreciated if you do the same. (note: in times of the Corona pandemic things have changed).

Personal space
Personal space is considered significantly different in Latin America then in most other countries, so don’t get mad if people get in what you would call your personal space. For Latin Americans, it is just normal, and they don’t consider it rude!

Personal boundaries are less rigid in Latin America. Even if you meet someone for the first time, you will learn a lot about this person’s personal life such as health, family and other relationships. Or, you can even be introduced directly to this person’s family and extended circle of a friend! If you open up about who you are as a person, you will meet many new people (and call them your friends) quickly.

The concept of ‘time’ in Latin America
As we probably all know, the concept of time is different in Latin America. Meaning, that time is more fluid in Latin America than in other regions of the world. Many people to come (always) late, even for formal meetings. In business or other formal meetings, Latin Americans like to take the time to get to know each before getting to the subject and do business. It is best you make sure you have enough time and prepare to be patient.

> Matters like this are discussed in a course Business Spanish

Countries and regions
As it’s recommended to be sensitive to regional differences in Spain, there are also sensitive subjects in Latin America. If you are from the USA, don’t refer to the USA as America, as “America” includes North, Central ánd South America. This means that ‘American’ refer to people living in all those regions and not only people from the USA.

Being specific with identifiers, especially someone’s country of origin, will help avoid cultural misunderstandings around labels that may have a sensitive history.

Be aware that Latin America is a huge region with different cultures, traditions and local languages such as the widely spread Quechua in countries such as Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. The Spanish itself isn’t the same all over Latin America; there are many accents and Latin American slang (you can download an e-book here).

Don’t worry if you don’t understand people completely, even if your Spanish level is very high. People will be thrilled to explain the meaning of the slang from their country or region. They will be proud to help you out.

SMALL TALK TOPICS in Spanish

1. Introductions and greetings in Spanish
Hola Hello
Buenos días Good morning
Buenas tardes Good afternoon / evening
Buenas noches Good night
¿Qué tal? How’s it going? (informal)
¿Qué hay? What’s up? (very informal)
¿Cómo estás? How are you? (informal)
¿Cómo está usted? How are you? (formal)
Mucho gusto. Nice to meet you.
¿Qué te trae por aquí? What brings you here?
¿Cuánto tiempo llevas aquí? How long have you been here?
Me gusta… I like …
2. Personal information in Spanish
Me llamo… / Soy… / Mi nombre es… I am … / My name is…
¿Cómo te llamas? What’s your name?
Tengo… años. I am … years old.
¿Cuántos años tienes? How old are you?
Soy de… / Vivo en… I am from … / I live in…
¿De dónde eres? / ¿Dónde vives? Where are you from? / Where do you live?
¿Dónde creciste? Where did you grow up?
Mi número de teléfono es … My phone number is …
¿Cuál es tu número de teléfono? What is your phone number?
Soy soltero/a. / Estoy casado. I am single. / I am married.
¿Estás casado/a? Are you married?
Tengo una hermana y dos hermanos. I have one sister and two brothers.
¿Tienes hermanos? Do you have any siblings?
Tengo un perro y un gato. I have a dog and a cat.
¿Tienes alguna mascota? Do you have any pets?
¿Cómo conoces a …? How do you know …?
¿Con quién estas aquí? Who are you here with?
Cuéntame más de ti. Tell me more about you.
3. Talking about The weather in Spanish
¿Cómo está el clima / el tiempo? How is the weather?
¿Qué tiempo hace? How’s the weather?
¿Cómo ves el clima? How do you see the weather?
Aquí siempre hace mucho frío en esta época. It’s always very cold here at this time of the year.
¿Qué tal está el clima en Madrid? How’s the weather in Madrid?
¿Cómo está el tiempo por allá? How’s the weather over there?
Hace calor, ¿verdad? It’s hot, right?
Hace mucho frío. It’s very cold.
Hace un día muy despejado. It’s a very clear day.
Hace buen tiempo. The weather’s nice.
Hace un día hermoso. It’s a beautiful day.
Hace mal tiempo. The weather’s bad.
Hace un día horrible. It’s a horrible day.
Está nublado el día. It’s a cloudy day.
Está soleado. It’s sunny.
Está lloviendo. It’s raining.
Está nevando. It’s snowing.
Hay viento, ¿verdad? It’s windy, right?
Hay neblina. It’s foggy.
¿Tienes frío / calor? Are you cold / hot?
Me estoy asando. I’m roasting.
Me estoy congelando. I’m freezing.
Me muero de calor / frío. I’m dying of heat / cold.
Estoy sudado/a. I’m sweaty.
¡Ay, qué calor! It’s so hot!
¡Llueve a mares! / Está lloviendo a cántaros. It’s raining cats and dogs!
Parece que va a llover. It looks like it’s going to rain.
¿Oíste el pronóstico de tiempo? Did you hear the weather forecast?
¡Veamos el pronóstico del tiempo! Let’s watch the weather forecast.
4. Talking about Hobbies in Spanish
¿Cuál son tus pasatiempos? What are your pastimes?
¿Tienes un hobby? Do you have a hobby?
Me gusta leer. I like to read.
¿Qué haces para divertirte? What do you like to do for fun?
¿Qué hacen aquí para divertirse? What do people do here to have fun?
En mi tiempo libre voy al cine. In my free time I go to see movies.
¿Te gusta la música? Do you like music?
¿Cuál es tu banda favorita? What is your favourite band?
Toco la guitarra. I play the guitar.
¿Tocas un instrumento? Do you play an instrument?
¿Qué escritor me puedes recomendar? Which writer can you recommend me?
¿Qué tipo de películas te gusta? What type of movies do you like?
Prefiero las películas románticas. I prefer romantic movies.
¿Cuál es la mejor película que has visto? What’s the best movie you’ve ever seen?
¿Cuál es tu deporte favorito? What is your favourite sport?
¿Practicas algún deporte? Do you practice any sport?
Me gusta jugar al fútbol. I like to play soccer.
¿De qué equipo eres? Which team do you support?
5. Traveling in Spanish
Estoy aquí de vacaciones. I am here on vacation.
A mí, me gusta viajar. I like to travel.
¿Te gusta viajar? Do you like to travel?
Me encanta Madrid. I love Madrid.
¿Cuál es el lugar favorito en que has estado? What’s your favourite place you’ve been to?
¿En qué países has estado? Which countries have you been to?
¿Es la primera vez que viajas en España? Is this the first time you have travelled in Spain?
¿Has estado en Madrid? / ¿Querrías ir a Madrid? Have you been to Madrid? / Would you like to go to Madrid?
Hablo español e inglés. I speak Spanish and English.
¿Hablas otros idiomas? Do you speak any other languages?
¿Dónde está el centro de la ciudad? Where is downtown?
Por casualidad, ¿conoces alguna buena agencia de viajes? By any chance, do you know of any good tour agencies?
¿Me lo puede mostrar en el mapa? Can you show me on the map?
¿Cuándo vas a volar? When are you flying out?
¿Vas de gira o estás solo? Are you going on a tour or are you on your own?
6. Talking about Professions in Spanish
¿A qué te dedicas? What do you do for a living?
Soy + profesión I am a(n)+ profession
Soy obrero. I am a worker.
Soy profesor/a. I am a teacher.
¿Qué te hizo convertirte en profesor? Why did you become a teacher?
¿Qué consejo le darías a alguien que quiere convertirse en profesor? What advice would you give someone who wants to become a teacher?
Soy estudiante. I am a student.
¿Qué estudias? What do you study?
¿Te gusta tu trabajo? Do you like your job?
¿Qué es lo que más te gusta de tu trabajo? What do you like most about your job?
¿Qué es la cosa más difícil sobre tu trabajo? What is the most difficult thing about your job?
Trabajo en Madrid. I work in Madrid.
¿Dónde trabajas? Where do you work?
7. Food Vocabulary in Spanish
¡Me gusta mucho la paella! I really like paella!
¿Cuál es tu comida favorita? What’s your favourite food?
¿Te gusta la comida mediterránea? Do you like Mediterranean food?
¿Qué comen en tu país? What do they eat in your country?
¿Puedes recomendarme un buen restaurante? Can you recommend a good restaurant?
¿Se recomienda este restaurante? Do you recommend this restaurant?
¿Dónde como la mejor paella aquí? Where can I eat the best paella here?
¿Qué significa ‘a la parrilla’? What does ‘grilled’ mean?
¿Qué plato típico me recomiendas? What typical dish do you recommend?
¿Qué es un producto regional típico? What is a typical regional product?
¿Dónde puedo comprar…? Where can I buy…?
Gracias por la sugerencia. Thanks for the suggestion.

HELP WITH SMALL TALK

1. Intermediate words
¿En serio? / ¿De verdad? Really? / Seriously?
¿Sabes? You know?
Ah, ¿sí? Oh, yeah?
Una pregunta… Let me ask you a question…
A ver… Let’s see…
O sea… I mean… / So…
Pues… Well…
¡Oye! Hey! / Listen!
¡A ver! Let’s see!
¡Por supuesto! / ¡Claro que si! Of course!
¡Dios mío! Oh my god!
¡No me digas! No way!
¡Vaya! Wow!
¡Vale! / ¡De acuerdo! / ¡Dale! Okay!
2. Conversation starters / break the ice
¿Sabe qué hora es? Do you know what time it is?
¿Sabe dónde está…? Do you know where the… is?
¿Sabe a qué hora cierre este lugar? Do you know what time this place closes?
Que está pasando? What’s going on?
¿Está desocupada esta silla? Is this seat taken?
3. Compliments
Eso suena interesante. That sounds interesting.
Me gusta mucho tu bolso. I really like your bag.
¡Qué gafas más bonitas! ¿Son nuevas? What beautiful glasses! They’re new?
¿Dónde lo/la compraste? Where did you buy it?
¡Cómo me gusta tu camiseta! I really like your shirt!
Te queda bien. That suits you well.
Tienes buen gusto. You have good taste.
Eres muy amable. You’re very kind.
Me gusta tu estilo. I like your style.
4. Courtesy phrases in Spanish
¡Gracias! Thank you!
¡Muchas gracias! Thank you very much!
¡Que aproveche! Enjoy your meal!
¡Con mucho gusto! With pleasure!
Por favor… Please …
De nada. / No hay de qué. You’re welcome.
Lo siento / Perdón Sorry
No importa. Never mind / Doesn’t matter
Discúlpeme / Con permiso Excuse me
¡Salud! Bless you!
¿Me permite? May I?
¿Cómo? Sorry? (repeat please?)
Lo siento, no entiendo… I’m sorry, I don’t understand…
Hable más despacio, por favor. Please speak slower.
¿Puedes hablar más despacio, por favor? Can you speak more slowly please?
¿Podría repetir, por favor? Can you repeat please?

TALKING IN SPANISH

Chat in Spanish

With all this Spanish vocabulary you will be able to make small talk to people in Spanish. Remember that small talk can be the beginning of a friendship or even of the love of your life. And of course, it is the perfect opportunity to practice your Spanish skills! Do you still have question about small talk in Spanish? Or about any other topic in Spanish? Spanish Online offers online Spanish courses including Online Spanish courses for any topic you are interested in! Don’t hesitate to contact us for further information.

Are you interested in food and cooking? Make sure to check our Cooking Vocabulary Blog! More vocabulary blogs?  Learn Spanish Idioms or check our  great list of Christmas Vocabulary in Spanish

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