5 Tricks to Sound Like a Native Spanish Speaker

Speak Spanish like nativesPlus free sample of “Beginner Spanish Toolkit” mini course:

5 Common Spanish Slang Expressions!

When speaking in Spanish the last thing you want is to sound like a ‘gringo’ or a ‘guiri’.

What is a gringo or a guiri?

A gringo is a foreigner in Latin America or in Spain the equivalent is a guiri. A gringo or a guiri is someone who really sticks out as being out of place.
Clearly you don’t want to sound like one of these and you want to fit in with the locals. Here is a quick and easy guide to the best ways to fit in and sound more like a local in a Spanish speaking country.

5 Tricks to sound like a native speaker

1. Perfect your Spanish accent

Perhaps the most obvious way to fit in with the locals is to speak like them. The best way to do this is by listening to as much Spanish as you can. This could be by:
– Watching Youtube videos. Read “7 Best Spanish Youtube Channels to Learn Real Spanish”:
– Listening to podcasts (Notes in Spanish, Audiria, Unlimted Spanish)
– Watching Spanish TV and films
– Listening to Spanish audiobooks (search on Audible)
– Chatting to a native speaker or tutor via italki.

2. Learn the type of Spanish for the country you are in

Some of the words are different in Spain to South American countries. For example, the word for “car” in Spain is “coche” but in Argentina and other South American countries it is “carro”. The word for computer is “ordenador” in Spain but “computadora” in Latin America. If you use the wrong word you will definitely stick out as an outsider. If you focus on learning the correct words depending on where you will be using Spanish, it will avoid this.

3. Learn False Friends

In Spanish there are a lot of words that sound like an English word but they DO NOT mean the same thing! For example, “embarazada” sounds like “embarrassed” but it does not mean “embarrassed” it means “pregnant” – something you don’t want to mix up! To avoid embarrassment try to learn all of these words that can catch you out, especially when you are on the spot speaking to a native speaker.

  • Realizar – doesn’t mean “to realise” it means “to carry out”.
  • Librería – doesn’t mean “library” it means “a bookshop”.
  • Dinero – doesn’t mean “dinner” it means “money”.

4. Make sure adjectives match what they describe

In Spanish it is important to match the endings of any descriptive words to the item they are describing – the ending will depend on whether the item is singular, plural, masculine or feminine. Let’s look at some examples:

Singular nouns:

el chico altothe tall boy (‘chico’ – boy is clearly masculine so you would need to make sure the accompanying descriptive word agrees, ‘alto’).

Whereas ‘chica’ (girl) is feminine so you need to change the ending to agree, ‘alta’:
la chica altathe tall girl

Plural nouns:

los coches negros – the blue cars (‘coche’ is masculine, so you need to make the colour masculine too.)

Whereas if you are describing something feminine and plural, such as “las playas”, you need to make the descriptive word feminine too, “bonitas”:

las playas bonitasthe pretty beaches

Note: make sure you look at the article (el, la, los, las) rather than just the ending of the word, as there are exceptions when a word ending in –a (which are usually feminine) could be masculine and vice versa, there are words ending in –o (that are normally masculine) that are actually feminine:

El díathe day (masculine)

La motothe motorbike (feminine)

5. Learn Spanish Slang

Why does learning Spanish slang help you?

  • You sound like a native! This is a real achievement to learn and be able to use some of the phrases that native Spanish speakers use in everyday situations.
  • Impress people! You will impress friends and native speakers by dropping in a slang expression into the right place in the conversation. It shows that you really know the language and can fit in with the locals easily. This will really help you make friends with the local people.
  • You learn more about the language. By learning some slang phrases you will get to understand the language better and be able to form your own slang expressions.

5 Real Spanish Phrases to sound like a native speaker

Here are a few real Spanish phrases that natives use all the time. They are phrases that you often don’t find in study books or the dictionary. If you can drop these into the conversation, you will sound just like one of the locals!

1) ¡Qué va! – No way! / What rubbish! / Forget it!

e.g. Puede que ganes la lotería – You might win the lottery!
¡Qué va! – No way!

2) ¿Qué pasa? – What’s up? / What’s going on?

This is a great phrase to use to strike up conversation with someone when you first meet up or to check someone is feeling ok if they are looking a bit fed up.

3) Estar a tope – To be flat out / really busy

No he parado todo el día, estoy a tope – I haven’t stopped all day, I’m so busy.

4) ¡Tiene buena pinta! – It looks really good!

This is a brilliant expression to use to talk about food or anything that looks good. If you are eating out with Spanish colleagues, friends or family and when the food arrives, you will sound really fluent if you say this. Or if you are eating at home with Spanish people this will give a great compliment to whoever prepared the meal.

5) Estoy hecho polvo – I’m totally exhausted / a wreck

If you have just arrived after travelling a long distance or if you have had a long day at work, this is the ideal phrase to explain how tired you are, rather than the standard, “Estoy muy cansado/a” (I’m very tired).

Beginner Spanish Resources

You can find all of these expressions with examples, plus many more as part of the mini course, “Beginner Spanish Toolkit” which is aimed at providing beginners of Spanish everything they need to start learning Spanish and build a strong foundation. The course includes:

  • 200 Most Used Words in Spanish
  • Spanish Power Verbs
    – to want (querer)
    – to be able to (poder)
    – to need (necesitar)
    – to like (gustar)
    – to have to … (tener que …)
    – going to … (voy a …)
  • Common Spanish Slang

Check out our “Online Spanish Courses” to learn the language at your own pace here:

Online Spanish Courses

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