Some of My Favorite Spanish Words and Phrases

Ellie Crymes is a student at the Rhodes College and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA Service Learning in Salamanca, Spain.

Most of my favorite new words that I have learned from my summer in Salamanca, Spain have no literal or direct translation into English. Some don’t even have an equivalent – as there is no conception or idea of the word’s meaning in English our in our culture in the United States.

I took this picture of Salamanca from a balcony of its two cathedrals. At the top of the belltower you get an amazing 360 degree view of the whole city!

Vale: If you travel to Spain, this will be the first word you learn or rather, come to understand. It means “okay,” but it means so much more than that. You can say “Vale” in agreement with someone, or it can simply just mean that you are following along with the conversation. You can use “¿Vale?” as a question to ask “Alright?,” “Okay?,” or “Do you understand?” Finally, it can be used as more of an interjection. “¡Vale!” could imply “Okay, enough already!” Nonetheless, it’s everywhere in daily conversations, but the way you say it can convey a different meaning.

Sobremesa: “Sobremesa” literally translates to “on” or “about the table,” but is a word used in Spain for conversation after a meal. It is really common in the United States that we finish our meal, pay, then leave. However, in Spain, you sit with your friends for a while after finishing and just talk; there is no rush to leave.

Goloso/a: I first learned this word when my host mom described me as “golosa.” It is an adjective used to describe someone with a sweet-tooth, and mine really came to life in Spain with chocolate and pastries.

Te echo de menos: The verb “echar” means to throw or to release. However, “Te echo de menos” is the Spanish equivalent to “I miss you.”


Taken from the top of the Old Cathedral of the top of the New Cathedral.



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