Stupid me. Stupid, stupid me!
I spent my entire youth (more than twenty years) in Southern California, where half the population seems to speak Spanish… and what did I do when it came time to choose a second language to study in high school and college? I picked Latin!
Doh! What a dumb move.
Now, here I am, my first week in South America, surrounded by nothing but Spanish speaking people and my knowledge of the entire Spanish language consists of no more than a dozen different words (Most of them being cuss words I learned from playing soccer in So Cal).
But I’m not too concerned. I’m a relatively fast learner… and I’ve got you to help me. Right?
If you speak Spanish, I could really use your help. Below I’ve typed out a number of words and phrases I would like to learn to say in Spanish so I can communicate with the people around me. If you are able to help me translate these phrases from English to Spanish, I would be forever grateful. All you have to do is read my list of words and phrases below and then leave a comment at the end of this article telling me how to say these things in Spanish.
Thanks in advance!
- Excuse me.
- I am looking for this.
- Where is it?
- Where is this?
- Which way do I go?
- I’m sorry.
- I am vegetarian. I can not eat anything with animals in it.
- How much does this/it cost?
- Do you know where I can rent a bicycle?
- Do you know where I can rent a motorcycle?
- Do you rent bicycles? Do you rent motorcycles?
- I would like to rent this for one week.
- This is broken.
- Is this included?
- What is the best deal you can give me?
- Will you accept this?
- Can you help me?
- At what time does it arrive?
- When must I check out?
- Can I take your photo?
What other words and phrases do you suggest that I learn? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Photo by Alex Bellink
15 thoughts on “Help! I’m In South America & I Can’t Speak Spanish”
– Lo siento or Disculpe
I am looking for this.
– Estoy buscando esto
Where is it?
– Donde esta esto
Where is this?
-I´m sorry, I belive is the same than Where is it, but i´m not sure.
Which way do I go?
-Por donde voy, por donde es or Que camino tomo
-Usually there is no diference with Excuse me i´ll say
I am vegetarian. I can not eat anything with animals in it.
-Soy Vegetariano. No nada con animales but us more common “no como carne”
How much does this/it cost?
– Cuando cuesta? Cuento vale?
Do you know where I can rent a bicycle?
-Sabe donde puedo rentar (or arrendar) una bicicleta
Do you know where I can rent a motorcycle?
– Sabe donde puedo rentar (or arrendar) una motocicleta ( or just a Moto)
Do you rent bicycles? Do you rent motorcycles?
– Usted (or Tú) arrienda bicicletas/motocicletas
I would like to rent this for one week.
– Me gustaría arrendar esto por una semana
This is broken.
-Esto esta roto. Esto esta malo.
Is this included?
-Esto esta incluido?
What is the best deal you can give me?
-Cual es el mejor precio que puedes darme or Dame tu mejor precio
Will you accept this?
– Aceptarías esto?
Can you help me?
– Puedes ayudarme
At what time does it arrive?
– A que hora llega=
When must I check out?
– Cuando debo retirarme, but in many place you can use “check out” or “check in”
Can I take your photo?
– Puedo sacar una foto?
That the way i´ll say, but i´m from Santiago, Chile. You will see that spanish is a bit different in South America.
Good luck mate, see you
Richardo, thanks so much!!! You rock! What a big help. I’ll keep you posted on my progress with the Spanish language. Now I just gotta learn all these phrases. Are there any other words of phrases you think I should learn?
I should have given you my Spanish phrases for dummies book while you were here.
How far to X?
It’s something with he verb faltar which I think means to be missing. As in you ate missing 3km to the next town.
Just can’t remember the exact phrase.
Los of luck!!
“Help” is a good one to know, “Ayuda”. Someones bound to do something if you holler it loud enough.
Haha I was going to answer but my boyfriend got first (Ricardo).
-How far to X?
Cuanto falta para X? (‘falta’ comes from the verb ‘faltar’, as Nif said)
If you want to learn some Spanish, take my advice: stay in Peru for a while. Or Bolivia. But don’t try Chile. We (chilean people) are awful spanish speakers (we eat half the letters of a word). And in Argentina they have a strange pronunciation.
Anyway, you’ll have to be patient. Even for me, a native Spanish speaker, sometimes it was difficult dealing with some peruvian and bolivian people. I don’t know about Lima, but in Cusco and Arequipa there’s a lot of indigene people, for whom Spanish is not their first language.
I was in Peru with a vegetarian friend and almost all he ate was rice. Hope you’d be luckier with that.
If you need more, just post them. My holidays have just started (=D) so now I have plenty of free time and I read your blog kind often.
Oh, See you should have been my student? Email me or text me 619-947-3975. I have a friend who text me every time she needs a word.
You should have taen Patrick with you.
Looks like Ricardo has you covered! I took Spanish in school, and still probably couldn’t have helped you out much. Ha. Where does the memory go?
When all else fails– Una cerveza, por favor. A beer please.
I’m vegetarian too, and I have used a great website to find places to eat in a pinch. It’s https://www.happycow.net/ Not sure how much they’ll have for your part of Peru, but it’s worldwide. There’s a place for people to leave ratings and reviews.
And the International Vegetarian Union, (ivu.org) offers these Spanish phrases for travelers:
Yo soy vegetariano – I am vegetarian
Yo no como carne, puerco, o pollo. – I do not eat meat, pork or chicken
Mi comida sabe mejor que la tuya. – My food tastes better than the one you’re eating.
¡Esta comida está deliciosa! – This food is delicious!
Qué platos tiene sin carne o pescado? – What dishes do you have without meat or fish?
Si hay carne en cualquier cantidad en mi comida, no lo puedo comer. If there is any meat whatsoever in my food, I cannot eat it.
“I’m a vegetarian, I don’t eat meat” = “Soy vegetariano, no como carne.”
Peru has excellent food that is high in proteins and is 100% vegetarian. I’m a vegan, and also a Peruvian Native (Quechua), currently working in North America, though.
Try food like quinoa, kiwicha, cañihua, tarwi. Try the lucuma ice cream. Get some caihua and cook it as you cook zucchini. Try some pacae for dessert, it’s a great fruit. Peruvian food is a vegetarian’s wet dream: you can get ALL the proteins without having to eat meat. In fact, the only animal meat routinely consumed in the highlands is cuy, the guinea pigs.
Don’t forget to try the olluco, a cousin of the potato, smaller, elongated, that comes in yellow, pink, red, purple, etc. and has a very distinctive, great taste. And try some chicha morada, made with purple maize (maiz morado). If you can, try some mazamorra morada, a pudding made of the same maize. And try picarones, a delicious dessert made of pumpkins. And don’t forget the coca tea, and the emoliente, a drink made of several herbs combined (flax, alfalfa, cat’s claw, aloe, barley, boldo and horsetail weed, with some lime sprinkled –it’s delicious).
Good luck! Buena suerte! 🙂
I am curious about the word “rentar” that was suggested for rent. In Mexico we used “rentar” for most things that weren’t houses, but used “alquilar” for houses. Now that I am in Argentina it seems that “alquilar” is the preferred word for any kind of renting. Wondering what Peru will use?
Chile/Peru/Bolivia and some used words in the Argentine
Excuse me. com permiso
I am looking for this. estoy buscando este /estoy buscando por eso
Where is it? Dónde es?
Where is this? Dónde es esto?
Which way do I go? Cómo se vá?
I’m sorry. Lo siento
I am vegetarian. I can not eat anything with animals in it. Soy vegetariano. No puedo comer cualquier cosa con animales en él.
How much does this/it cost? Cuanto cuesta esto?
Do you know where I can rent a bicycle? Sabes donde puedo alquilar una bici?
Do you know where I can rent a motorcycle? Sabes donde puedo alquilar una moto?
Do you rent bicycles? Do you rent motorcycles? Usted (alquila bicis? Alquila motos?)
I would like to rent this for one week. Me gustaria alquilar por uma semana
This is broken. Esto está roto!
Is this included? Esto está incluido?
What is the best deal you can give me? Qué trato mejor me puedes dar?
Will you accept this? Usted acepta esto?
Can you help me? Puede ayudarme
At what time does it arrive? Em cuánto tiempo llega?
When must I check out? Cuándo tengo que dejarlo?
Can I take your photo? Puedo tomar su foto? / puedo sacarlo(a) uma foto?
Thanks so much Cesar!
Thanks so much Cinda. I am familiar with Babelfish… and I have an app on my iPod which is exactly that – a Spanish word of the day. I find this app extremely helpful, although it occasionally gives me a word that I will rarely ever use in conversation.
Just so you know, I am blogging a lot more about my trip through Peru on my personal website at https://www.darrenalff.com. I’m really only posting the bicycle related stuff here on BTP.com… and some of the bigger travel related stuff I think readers here at Bicycle Touring Pro might be interested in. The more day to day travel stuff is on my personal site.
Hi Darren, it looks there’s a lot of great people around there who is ready to help. I had begun to translate your spanish words list, but I realize that they already helped you.
I live in Cuernavaca, Mexico, a beutiful and sunny place to visit here in this country. If you still having need of spanish, traveling or cycling help, I wolud try to do so for you. Have great time knowing Latin America!
Carlos, My wife and I went to language school in Cuernavaca in 2003. We lived and worked in Mérida, Mexico for 4 years and now work in Argentina.
You live in one of the most beautiful cities as far as flowers and gardens go.
You live in one of the ugliest cities as far as driving and traffic goes. 🙂
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