Useful phrases for Mexico

Various indigenous languages are spoken in Mexico, but the majority of people speak Spanish. Just like in Spain, dialects vary but most people will understand you if you learn a few key phrases. Pronunciation of letters can differ so if you want to get a sense of how words sound, ask a Mexican.

Many of the words and phrases below are pretty recognisable so it shouldn’t take long to pick them up. You’ll start to notice that in Mexico many words have been borrowed from English. For example – ‘spare time’ isn’t ‘pasatiempo’, it’s ‘hobby’.

Common Spanish phrases

Hello/Hi – Hola (O-la)
Goodbye – Adios (Addy-oss)
Thanks – Gracias (grats-y-ass)
Please excuse me (e.g. to interrupt/get past someone) – Con permiso (kohn-pehr-mee-soh)
I apologise/pardon me – Perdon (pear-don)
Please – Por Favor (Poor fa-vor)
Do you speak English? – Habla usted Inglés (Ab-la oos-ted een-glez?)
Please repeat – Repita, por favor (Rep-ee-ta, por fa-vor)
Sorry (with regret) – Lo Siento (Low see-ehn-to)
You’re welcome – De nada (deh nah-thah)
I don’t understand – No entiendo (No on-tee-endo)
Yes – Sí (See)
No – No (Noh)
Good morning – Buenos días (bway-nohs dee-ahs)
Good afternoon – Buenas tardes (bway-nahs tard-ays)
Good night – Buenas noches (bway-nahs noh-chays)
Where is …? – Dónde está? (dohn-deh eh-stah)


One – Uno/una (Oono/oona)
Two – Dos (Dos)
Three – Tres (Tres)
Four – Cuatro (Kwatro)
Five – Cinco (Theen-ko)
Six – Seis (Sayz)
Seven – Siete (See-ett-ee)
Eight – Ocho (O-cho)
Nine – Nueve (New-be)
Ten – Diez (Dyeth)

Eating out

Waiter/Waitress – Camarero/Camarera (Kah-mah-reh-roh/-rah)
Can I have a menu please? – La carta, por favor (La carta, por favor)
When is breakfast? – A qué hora el desayuno? (A kay ora el dess-ay-oono?)
When is lunch? – A qué hora es la comida (A kay ora eh la comm-ee-da?)
When is dinner? – A qué hora es la cena? (A kay ora eh la see-na?)
A beer, please – Una cerveza, por favor (Oona ther-betha por fa-vor)
I would like a glass of white wine, please – Quiero un vaso de vino blanco, por favor (Kyero oon bassodeh beeno blanko por fa-vor)
I would like a bottle of red wine, please – Una botella de vino tinto, por favor (Oona bot-telya de beeno teento, por favor)
Cheers! – Salud! (Sa-lood!)
Can I have the bill, please? – La cuenta, por favor (La kwenta por fa-vor)
Tea/coffee – té/café (tay/ka-fay)
Where is the toilet? – Dónde está el servicio? (Don-de esta el serbee-theeyo?)

Out and about

Where can I get a taxi? – Dónde se cogen los taxis? (Don-de se kog-gen loss tak-sees?)
Do you accept credit cards? – Aceptan tarjetas de crédito? (A-sep-tan tar-hay-tas de cred-ee-to?)
Where is the nearest bank? – Dónde está el banco mas cercano? (Don-de esta el banko mas therkano?)
Petrol – Gasolina (Gah-so-lee-nah)
To hire – Alquilar (Al-key-lah)
Car – Coche (Koh-chee)
Right – Derecha (Deray-cha)
Left – Izquierda (Eez-kee-erda)
Exit – Salida (Sa-lee-dah)
How much is it? – Cuánto es?/Cuánto cuesta? (Kwon-to es/kwon-to koo-e-sta)
Closed – Cerrado (Se-ra-doh)
Open – Abierto (A-bee-air-to)
Post Office – Oficina de Correos (Off-ee-see-nah deh cor-ay-os)
Chemist – Farmacia (Far-ma-see-ah)

Food and drink terms

Antojitos Mexicanos – these are small, often tortilla based, dishes that are served in restaurants and by street vendors

Tostadas – firm fried tortillas often topped with chicken, beef or fish

Pambasos – salsa dipped, deep fried sandwiches. Fillings are similar to Tostadas

Margarita – a Mexican drink that blends 100 per cent tequila, triple sec and lime juice

Horchata – a creamy cinnamon drink made with rice water and served chilled