If you are looking to travel to Spain or simply just want to boost your Spanish vocabulary, then this is the post for you! I spent a semester in Madrid and learned new words during my stay. Some of these words are used in other Latin American countries; some are just specific to Spain. I did not know any of these words, having mainly studied Latin American Spanish in school and at home. There is not a big difference between Latin American Spanish and Spanish from Spain. Like different dialects of English, you can still understand each other even if you use different words. Someone may poke fun at you for it occasionally but in the end, there will not be a language barrier. Here are some words I picked up while in Spain:
aseos – Toilets/bathroom. You may have learned the word servicios or the phrase “Dónde está el baño?” You can use any of these but if you ate too many churros and are about to burst, look for a sign that says aseos. This is a useful one to know when you really gotta go!
coche – This was a word I learned in high school but I thought I would throw in anyway. I have used the word carro to talk about a car. In Spain, that is used for talking about a baby carriage whereas in Latin America, it is the opposite. I would recommend using the word coche because I have gotten weird looks from people who thought I was asking for motion sickness medication to travel in a baby stroller.
echar una foto/hacer una foto – I have always used the phrase tomar una foto to talk about taking pictures but I know some people in Latin America also say sacar una foto. However, in Spain they use the phrases echar una foto or hacer una foto.
nevera – I tend to lean towards using Latin American words in Spanish as they are closer to English (ex. refrigeradora). This is the word for refrigerator in some Latin American countries as well as in Spain. My host mom used this word often.
echar de menos – Want to tell someone back home that you miss them in Spanish? This is a phrase people learn in high school as well as the less commonly used (in Spain) counterpart: extrañar.
vale – This word is an affirmation usually used to say “ok” when someone tells you something.
guay – ¡Qué guay! “Cool!” You may find yourself using this one a lot.
deberes – Tarea or known in English as “homework.” I have heard that it is used in some Latin American countries as well.
planta – This one confused me during my first couple of days in Spain. While it is used to refer to a plant in English, in Spain, it also means the floor of a building. Because I did not know this at first, I was a little lost when I thought people were telling me that my classroom was on the third plant.
Even though you may be used to doing or saying things a certain way, it is always best to adapt to the culture you are in if you really want to get along. When in Rome…