Essential Cuban Spanish Phrases for Travelers to Cuba

Cuban Spanish is challenging, even for native speakers from other countries. It's fast, often with fewer syllables, and includes words from West African languages, like Yoruba.


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If you have no idea what anyone is saying at first, don't worry: it takes the ear a little while to adjust. Of course, they could also be speaking Cubañol. These Cuban Spanish phrases will help you make your way.

Cuban Greetings

What's up?: ¿Que bola, acere?

What’s your name?: ¿Como se llama?

My name is _____: Me llamo _____ . 

Thank you: Gracias 

Sorry: Lo siento

Let's go: Dale

More or less: Más o menos

The bus : El guagua

Where is ____?: ¿Dónde está ______ ?

La Yuma: America - it can be pejorative or cheeky.

La Revolución: The 1959 Revolution.

Cuban Food

Crema: soup (sopa is understood, but not used as commonly.)

Ropa vieja: Local shredded beef specialty. Literally "old clothes."

Arroz morro (sometimes just "morro"): Black beans and rice.

Fruta bomba: Papaya ("papaya" is slang for female anatomy.)

Guayaba: Guava.

Mani: Peanuts (street vendors sell them in small white paper cones)

Palomitas, short for palomitas de maiz: popcorn (street vendors sell it in larger white paper cones)

Cajita: Literally a little box, usually contains a delicious cheap lunch of rice, beans and fried chicken.

________ Napolitano: In red sauce, e.g. spaghetti.

Heading to Cuba? Download our FREE Insider’s Guide!

Put down the cigars and step out of the vintage cars! Explore historical sites of revolution, taste peso food, or go diving among vibrant marine life.

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