A guide to useful phrases in the Caribbean

You will find that the majority of hotel and restaurant staff wherever you go speak perfectly good English. In most cases there will be no need for you to use any other language to ask for directions, order food and get out and about during your stay. So you can sit back, relax and enjoy your Caribbean break.

French, Dutch, Spanish and numerous local dialects are spoken throughout the Caribbean, but Spanish is the most widely spoken language. Each area and island has developed its own unique phrases, but the basics are widely understood. It’s always a good idea to learn a few words – just in case you need them. To help you, below are a few typical Spanish phrases that you may find useful.

Common Spanish phrases

Do you speak English? – ¿Habla ingles? (ahblah een glays)?
I understand, I don’t understand – Yo entiendo, yo no entiendo (yoh ayn tee ayn doh, yoh noh ayn tee ayn doh)
Do you understand? – ¿Entiende? (ayn tee ayn day)


One – Uno
Two – Dos
Three – Tres
Four – Cuatro
Five – Cinco
Six – Seis
Seven – Siete
Eight – Ocho
Nine – Nueve
Ten – Die
Twenty – Veinte
Twenty One – Veintiuno

Out and about

Please – Por favor (por fah vohr)
Thank you – Gracias (grah cee ahs)

Good morning – Buenos días (bway nos dee ahs)
Good afternoon – Buenas tardes (bway nahs tar days)
Good evening – Buenas noches (bway nahs noh chayss)

Hello/Hi. Usually said to people you know – Hola (oh lah)
Nice to meet you – Mucho gusto (moo choh goos toh)
How are you? Said to people you know – ¿Cómo está? (coh moh es tah)
How are you? Said to people you don’t know – ¿Cómo estás? (coh moh es tahs)
Good, thank you – Bien, gracias (bee ayn, grah cee ahs)

Where is the train/bus station? – ¿Dónde está la estación de ferrocarril/autobuses? (dohn des tah la ays ta see ohn day fay roh cahr reel /ow toe boos ehs).
Where is the bathroom? – ¿Dónde está el baño? – (dohn days tah ayl ban yoh)
Where is the exchange? / Where is a bank? – ¿Dónde está una casa de cambio? (dohn days tah oon ah cah sah day cahm bee oh)

How much does it cost? – ¿Cuánto cuesta? (cwahn toh cways tah)

Eating out

Waiter / waitress – address these with ¡Señor! or ¡Señorita! (say nyor, say nyor eetah) simply meaning Sir or Madam
I would like a menu – Quisiera un menú (kee see ayr oh un may noo)
I want – Quiero (kee ayr oh)
I would like – Quisiera (kee see ayr oh)
I want a table for two, three, four – Quiero una mesa para dos tres, cuatro (kee ayr oh oona may sah pah rah dohss, trays, kwah troh)
The bill – La cuenta (lah cwayn tah)

Food and drink terms

An appetiser – Una entrada (oona ayn trah dah)
Soup – Sopa (soh pah)
Salad – Ensalada (ayn sah lah dah)
Hamburger – Hamburguesa (ahm boor gay sah)
Dessert – Un postre (oon pohs tray)
A drink – Una bebida (oona bay bee dah)
Water – Agua (ah gwah)
Red wine / white wine – Vino tinto (vee noh teen toh) / Vino blanco (vee noh blahn coh)
Beer – Cerveza (sayr vay sah)
Coffee – Un cafe (oon cah fay)

Don’t be shy about trying these phrases out. Your efforts will be very much appreciated.