Traveling in a country where the language is foreign to you adds a new dimension of interest — and of stress. Although those in the Mexican tourist industry will often speak a smattering of English, knowing a few key phrases can help you communicate your needs to whoever might be listening. At Esperanza Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, you can practice the following phrases when interacting with the friendly concierges and staff, and continue to pick up new ones along the way during your stay.
1.) Habla usted ingles? (“a-blah oo-sted een-glays”) – Do you speak English?
2.) No entiendo. (“no en-tee-en-doh”) — I don’t understand.
3.) Con permiso. (“kon puhr-mee-so”) — Excuse me.
4.) Esta bien? (“eh-stah bee-en”) — Is this okay? Use while pointing at a place you want to explore, or pantomiming something you want to do.
5.) Necesito un bano. (“ness-es-ee-toh un ban-yo”) — I need a bathroom. Replace “bano” with “policia” or “hospital” or even an English word to get what you need in an emergency.
6.) Donde esta _____? (“nohn-day eh-stah ______”) — Where is the _____? This one is indispensable for getting directions.
7.) Cuanto costa? (“kwan-to koh-stah”) — How much does this cost?
8.) La cuenta, por favor. (“La kwen-ta por fuh-vore”) — Check, please.
9.) Como se dice _______? (“Co-mo say dee-say _____”) — How do you say _____ in Spanish?
10.) Ayudame! (“eye-you-duh-may”) — Help me!
And a bonus phrase that comes in handy when making new friends in this day and age:
¿Tienes Facebook? — Are you on Facebook?
Practice these phrases at home, then write them on a card to carry with you on your trip. You can look them up on your cheat sheet, or simply point to the phrase you need as you show the card to a native. Don’t worry about pronunciation. These are basic phrases most Spanish speakers will recognize even if you mangle the accent — and they’ll appreciate that you’ve made an effort.