How to speak like a Madrileño

Kathryn Wilson is a student at the University of Denver and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Madrid, Spain.

The dialect spoken in Spain can be tricky enough! To make matters more complicated, the Spaniards have specific words that are used just in Spain and are generally not taught in traditional Spanish courses. Here are the top five slang terms I hear out and about on the streets of Madrid every day.

  • Los aseos: Pronounced: los AH-say-os

Aseos is another word for bathroom in Spain. When I first arrived, I kept seeing signs for aseos and thus was able to draw the conclusion. I still assumed that it was okay to use banos. However, when I asked a local to use the bano, they looked at me like I was crazy! Spaniards understand the word bano, but they will know that you are not from there! Stick to aseos, and you’ll be good to go.

Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain, Wilson Photo 1
Make sure to check out some of the most amazing museums Spain has to offer while perfecting your Catalonian Spanish, vale!
  • Vale: Pronounced: V-al-ay

Vale means “okay” in Spain. Most professors, waiters, and store clerks use this word to make sure you understand what they are saying. It is common to just respond vale instead of the classic si. Just for a quick comparison, people in Spain use vale as much as we say “okay” or “like.”

  • Hasta Luego: Pronounced: Ah-sta Lu-eh-go

Adios is the most well-known way to say goodbye in Spanish. However, it is very formal. Adios is similar to saying “goodbye.”Many people in Spain utilize other, more casual words. For example, hasta luego is much more commonly used. Its direct translation means “until later”–the equivalent of “see you later.” Other, less formal, ways to say goodbye are nos vemos or even hasta la proxima.

Retiro Park, Madrid, Spain, Wilson Photo 2
Retiro Park is a gorgeous park located right in the middle of the city! Madrileños come here all hours of the day to spend time with friends while taking in all the beauty Spain has to offer.
  • Madrileños: Pronounced: Ma-dre-le-gnos

Just like each state in America has a special word for residents (I.e. Coloradans), cities in Spain also have special names for the people living in each city. Madrilenos is the word used to describe people living in Madrid.

  • La Cafetería: Pronounced: La Ca-fe-tear-e-a

This word is considered a cognate, which means a word that sounds the same in English and Spanish and has the same meaning, but it is used much more frequently in Spain and refers to a wide variety of places. Cafeteria in Spain is used to describe many coffee shops, lunch spots and even little bars all over the city, which is far from the school cafeteria we have back in the USA.

Incorporating these popular slang terms into your Spanish will have you speaking like a Madrileño in no time!

The world awaits…discover it.