12 Polite Spanish Phrases To Keep You Out of Trouble


Christmas is coming! If you want to visit Spain or Latin America for a warm Christmas, packing some polite Spanish phrases may be helpful. Learning about the culture and how to communicate respectfully would be a good idea if you want a friendly and cordial interaction with the locals. At the end of the day, Spanish speakers appreciate tourists who respect their culture, so if you learn some basic manners and polite expressions, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively and stay out of trouble. To help you get started with this, we’ll share 12 phrases to help you to be polite in Spanish and express yourself appropriately. If you’re all set for that, then let’s get started!

The Difference Between Tú And Usted

If you are a native English speaker learning Spanish, you may find using “” and “usted” a little confusing. After all, the difference between tú and usted does not exist in English. Fortunately, it’s easy to remember what sets them apart since both words refer to the word “you” and cannot be used to mark a level of respect towards a person.  

In Spanish, these words have a defined difference. Generally, “tú” addresses people close to your circle with whom you have a level of trust and familiarity. In contrast, “usted” is used to show respect to elders or to address strangers and people of a higher hierarchy. When in doubt, unless it is a person significantly younger than you, use “usted.” This will save you from headaches on whether or not you are being polite.  

you-are-you-Polite Spanish Phrases

12 Polite Spanish Phrases

1-Buenos días – Good Morning

[Speechword voice=”Spanish Latin American Female” isinline]buenos días[/Speechword]

From 12 a.m. until 12 p.m.

Buenos días is a greeting used from early morning until noon. It’s appropriate to address any person, regardless of age or status.

  • “Buenos días señor Guzmán” or “Good morning, Mr. Guzmán.”

2- Buenas Tardes – Good Afternoon

[Speechword voice=”Spanish Latin American Female” isinline]buenas tardes[/Speechword]

From 12 p.m. until 7 p.m.

This phrase means “good afternoon” and is a polite greeting. It’s used from noon to late afternoon.

  • “Buenas tardes, Miranda” or “Good afternoon, Miranda.”

3- Buenas noches – Good evening/night

[Speechword voice=”Spanish Latin American Female” isinline]buenas noches[/Speechword]

From 7 p.m. until 11 p.m.

In Spanish, after 7 p.m., you greet people with the phrase “buenas noches.” This greeting can be used throughout the night until the clock strikes 12 a.m.

  • “Buenas noches mami” or “Good night, mommy” 
man-with-good manners

4- Mucho Gusto En Conocerle – Nice to meet you

[Speechword voice=”Spanish Latin American Female” isinline]mucho gusto en conocerle[/Speechword]

This expression is used when you first meet a person. In Spanish-speaking countries, it is common to shake hands when people have just met. Still, observing which type of greeting the receiver prefers is always appropriate.

5- Por favor – Please

[Speechword voice=”Spanish Latin American Female” isinline]por favor[/Speechword]

“Por favor” is an essential expression to remember. “Por favor” can help us escape many sticky situations. For example, if we ask a question or request help, using the phrase “Por favor” will increase our chances of getting the assistance we need.

6-Muchas gracias -Thank you very much

[Speechword voice=”Spanish Latin American Female” isinline]muchas gracias[/Speechword]

This is one of the most used expressions worldwide. Since childhood, our parents usually emphasize that we should be thankful every time we receive a gift, a favor, or a service. Showing gratitude is one of the most important signs of politeness.

puzzle-say-muchas gracias-polite expressions

7-Disculpe – Excuse me

[Speechword voice=”Spanish Latin American Female” isinline]disculpe[/Speechword]

You can use this expression in two different ways. The first is to apologize, and the second is to address someone formally. For example, if you need to ask for permission to enter your boss’s office, you could say “disculpe” to get his attention.

8-Buen provecho – Enjoy your meal 

[Speechword voice=”Spanish Latin American Female” isinline]buen provecho[/Speechword]

“Buen provecho” is used at mealtime to wish the other people who are eating to enjoy their meal. Unfortunately, there is no literal translation in English, but the English equivalent would be “enjoy your meal” or the French phrase “bon appétit.” 

9-¿Cómo está usted? How are you (formal)

[Speechword voice=”Spanish Latin American Female” isinline]¿cómo está usted?[/Speechword]

This is a standard version of the expression “how are you.” As we discussed, “usted” denotes that this question could be used with elderly people, strangers, or people outside our circle.

10-¿Me podría decir como llego a~? Could you tell me how I go to~?

[Speechword voice=”Spanish Latin American Female” isinline]¿Me podría decir como llego a?[/Speechword]

If you find yourself lost, it is crucial to know how to ask for directions. However, you should ask politely to show respect for the person you’re speaking to. In such a situation, this phrase will be helpful. 

  • “¿Me podría decir cómo llegar al banco más cercano, por favor?” or “Could you tell me how to get to the nearest bank, please?”

11-Disculpe ¿habla inglés? Excuse me, do you speak English?

[Speechword voice=”Spanish Latin American Female” isinline]Disculpe ¿habla inglés?[/Speechword]

If you need to find someone who speaks English, you can approach strangers by using the phrase, “Disculpe ¿habla inglés? this is a polite way of asking. 

12- Puede hablar más despacio, por favor Can you speak slowly, please

[Speechword voice=”Spanish Latin American Female” isinline]Puede hablar más despacio, por favor[/Speechword]

When you’re struggling to understand what someone is telling you in Spanish, tell them: “Puede hablar más despacio, por favor.” I’m sure native speakers will talk slower and do their best to make themselves more understandable.

Good Manners In Spanish-speaking Countries

Spanish-speaking countries have a wide variety of cultures. But they all have something in common: the warmth and hospitality of their people. Therefore, before you visit Spain or a Latin American country, it is wise to do some research. You’ll know what aspects of their culture you should be aware of. 

Still, you don’t need to be concerned. If you learn how to use the polite phrases we learned today, you won’t have any problems during your trip. Even if you don’t know the correct form or expression to use, if you say “por favor” and “gracias,” most people around will be happy to help you.  

Learn Spanish Expressions With Ling

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Now that you know the most common polite Spanish phrases, it’s time to practice. 

Are you ready to test your mastery of Spanish vocabulary? The Ling app has engaging exercises to help you practice and expand your vocabulary even more. Short lessons that you can complete in 15 minutes. Ready to try it out? Sign up for a free account and download the app from App Store or Play Store to start learning Spanish like a pro! ¡Hasta luego!

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