Traveling to South America? Four Phrases You Should Know!


If you are planning an epic trip to South America and have less then ,“un poco” (a little) knowledge of Spanish, then you may want to brush up on at least, the following four phrases. If you are able to memorize these phrases, it will help get through, “el principio de su viaje” (the beginning of your trip) and will help you to speak confidently if placed in the following common scenarios.

¿Cómo puedo llegar?  How do I get to….?

Instead of using the common “gringo” phrase “Dónde Estás”, surprise the locals and ask , “¿Cómo puedo llegar? “ which directly translates to, How do I get to… fill in the blank. So for example, if you find yourself aimlessly wandering in a small or big pueblo of South America looking for food or shelter, you can say, “¿Cómo puedo llegar a la a un restaurante/hostal?” How do I get to a restaurant/ hostel? Use this phrase when you are lost or need to find something important.

¿A qué hora sale?  What time does it leave?

This phrase will come in handy anytime you need to take a bus, train or plane to a specific destination. If you are traveling by bus, which is common in South America, you need to be clear on what time the bus will be departing from the terminal. You can say, “¿A qué hora sale el autobus/tren/avión?. “What time does the train/plane leave?”

No Quiero, o Quiero. I don’t want, I do Want.

Yes these are two very basic phrases, but two very important phrases that will help you get through the first couple days in South America. The easiest formula to remember is using, Quiero + an infinitive, so for example: “No o Quiero ir/salir/hablar/comer?”. ” I don’t/ I do want to go/leave/talk/eat.”

Me Llamo es/Buenos días,buenas tardes, buenas noches,

My name is (fill in the blank) Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Evening

Yes rudimentary Spanish here. Most of you have learned these phrases in grade school, however, I can’t tell you how many times I here foreigners mixing up these common phrases and the use of masculine/feminine. Me llamo is in first person so you have to use O. Días (days) is masculine, tardes is feminine and noches is feminine as well. Try to memorize these basic rules and impress the locals with the correct usage of their language!

What other important phrases do you feel are useful while traveling through South America?


About Author

Since a young age Jenna has always had an undeviating desire to explore the world and all its hidden niches. This desire has catapulted her willingly into some of the most memorable experiences of her life! Starting with delivering shoes to underserved villages in the Dominican Republic to bussing it down through Mexico and Central America, she currently lives and works in Cochabamba, Bolivia and believes experiencing first hand what foreign culture is really like, serves as her ultimate passion.

1 Comment

  1. Good sentences! Bit just one thing

    “¿Dónde Estás?” means “Where are you?”

    If you want to say “Where is ……?” You should say “¿Dónde está ….?”

    I know is just a letter but it changes de meaning 😉

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