Key Spanish Phrases for Travelers to Use in Colombia

Going to Colombia without any knowledge of the Spanish language? Our local insider Jacqui gives you a few useful phrases to help get around safely.

Language and Phrases in Colombia

The overall level of English proficiency across the country is incredibly low. However, in larger cities and tourist areas, there are higher chances of finding someone who speaks English.

To avoid winding up in a tricky situation, learn a few phrases to show the locals that you're trying to meet them halfway — it's not only good manners, but it'll encourage them to use the little English they do know without fear of embarrassment.

Don’t forget that Colombians love to talk! Being able to have a basic conversation with them can culturally and socially enrich your trip, bringing you much closer to this crazy-cool culture.

Language Courses

Spanish schools and private classes are aplenty in major tourist destinations, such as Bogotá, Medellín, the Coffee Zone, and Cartagena.

With accents varying region by region, it’s best to first learn the neutral accent of the Andean cities before you engage with the locals along the Caribbean Coast.

Despite the easygoing lifestyle, they talk like a gun spitting bullets, and completely swallow the letter “s”.

Key Phrases for Travelers

Hello: Hola/Buenos días

How are you? ¿Cómo estás? /¿Todo bien?

Goodbye: Adiós/Chao/Hasta luego/Nos vemos

Thank you: Gracias

Please: Por favor

Excuse me/I’m sorry: Disculpe

I’m X: Soy “X” (your name)

I’m from X: Soy de “X” (your Country of Residence)

Where is the “X”: En dónde está “X”

bathroom: el baño

— bus stop: paradero de bus

— pharmacy: la drogueria

(To taxi driver) Can you please take me to “X”: Me lleve por favor hasta “X”

I don’t speak Spanish: Yo no hablo español

Can you repeat that more slowly? ¿Puede repetirlo más despacio? 

I would like “X”: Me gustaría “X”

Would you please give me: Me regala por favor “X” (literally means, “would you gift me… ?” but is commonly used when asking for something eg. an empanada)

How much? Cuánto cuesta?

Thank you, but I’m waiting for my friends: Gracias, pero estoy esperando a mis amigos

Sorry, but I’m not interested: Lo siento, pero no estoy interasada/o

Cool! ¡Chevere! / ¡Bacano!

Ready/done/ok/agree: ¡Listo!

Party: Rumba

I have a terrible hangover: Tengo un guayabo terrible

To expose yourself to potential danger/to give someone the opportunity to hurt you: Dar papaya

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1 Comment

  • Andrew Zaplatynsky said

    What is the expression for "stop sign" in Colombia? (not that anybody actually stops).

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