Spanish Phrases: Basic Spanish words

This and the next page list some of the basic 'function' words in Spanish. They provide some of the 'glue' that allow other more 'referential' words (nouns, adjectives) to be put together to form sentences. To help you learn these basic Spanish function words, you may also be interested in the following resources available from this site:

 Spanish podcast creator, which includes a topic on function words
 A list of the most common Spanish verb forms found in contemporary journalism, to help you with reading Spanish.

Basic function words

This section contains a mixture of common basic function words in Spanish, such as pronouns, adverbs, quantifiers etc, plus a handful of basic verb forms.

a-to, at, in (see below for a full list of prepositions)
acá Pronounce-(Latin American) here
ahí Pronounce-there, just there
algo Pronounce-something
alguien Pronounce-somebody, someone
algun...-some ... or other
(en) alguna parte Pronounce-somewhere, someplace
allí Pronounce-there, thereabouts, around there
allá-there, over there
aquí-here
bastante Pronounce-enough
cerca Pronounce-nearby
de-of, from (see below for a full list of prepositions)
demasiado Pronounce-too much, excessively
demasiado..., demasiada...-to much...
demasiados..., demasiadas...-too many...
él-he, him
el..., la...-the...
ella-she, her
ellos, ellas-them
entonces Pronounce-then
eso-that, it
es2...-it/he/she is...
está2...-it/he/she is..., it stands...
este..., esta... Pronounce-this...
estos..., estas... Pronounce-these...
esto-this (unspecific, meaning 'this fact', 'this thing' etc)
hay...-there's..., there are...
lejos Pronounce-far (away)
los..., las...-the... (plural)
más Pronounce-more
menos Pronounce-less
mi...-my...
mis...-my... (plural)
mucho Pronounce-a lot, to a great extent
mucho..., mucha...-a lot of...
muchos..., muchas...-a lot of..., many...
muy-very
nada Pronounce-nothing
nadie Pronounce-nobody, no one
(en) ninguna parte-nowhere
no-not, n't
no es...-it isn't...
no hay...-there isn't aby..., there aren't any...
nunca Pronounce-never
otro..., otra... Pronounce-another...
otros..., otras...-some more..., other...
poco-little, a little bit
poco..., poca... Pronounce-little.., hardly any...
pocos..., pocas...-few...
porque-because
que-that, which, who1; than
siempre Pronounce-always
si...-if..., whether...
su(s)...-his/her...; your... (formal)
tan...-so...
tanto..., tanta...-so much...
tantos..., tantas...-so many...
tengo...-I have...
todavía-still
todo Pronounce-everything
todo el..., toda la...-all the...
todos-all; everyone
todos los..., todas las...-all the... (plural)
-you (singular, familiar)
tu(s)...-your... (familiary)
uno..., una... Pronounce-a...
unos..., unas...-some..., a few...
usted Pronounce-you (formal)
ustedes Pronounce-you (plural)
vosotros-you (familiar plural, used mainly Spain3)
yo-I, me
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Notes:
1. Like French, Spanish does not distinguish between people and things when que is the object in a relative clause: el amigo que vi = the friend (that/who) I saw. Unlike French, que is also used in Spanish for the subject of relatives. Hence: el hombre que viene = the man who is coming.
2. Spanish has two verbs, ser and estar, commonly translated by to be in English. The choice between them is a complex issue, but as a general rule, estar is used (a) whenever 'stand' would be a possible alternative in English, including to indicate location; (b) with adjectives to indicate the 'state' of something; (c) with continuous verb forms (equivalent to English is ...ing). The verb ser (hence es...) is used to state generalities (es posible) or permanent features (es inglés), as well as to form the passive.
3. In younger generations at least, ustedes is predominantly used rather than vosotros in Latin America. Butt  & Benjamin (2000) note that "vosotros [...] is found in business correspondence, flowery speeches and similar solemn or formal texts in Latin America" (p. 131). We surveyed Internet usage in as many countries as we could get country-specific results for (Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Uruguay). The number of pages using vosotros compared to ustedes ranged from less than 1 per cent (Cuba) to 16 per cent (Uruguay), with around 6 per cent being average.

Question words

¿cómo...? Pronounce-how...?
¿cuál...?-which...?
¿cuándo...? Pronounce-when...?
¿cuánto...? Pronounce-how much/many...?
¿dónde...? Pronounce-where...?
¿por qué...? Pronounce-why...?
¿qué...?-what...?
¿quién...? Pronounce-who...?
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Prepositons

See this separate page for a list of common Spanish prepositions.


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Page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright (c) Javamex UK 2014. All rights reserved.