A bit about driving in Spain

I have added a couple of pages about driving in Spain.
a bit of a rant about the daftness
and an explanation of how you need to treat roundabouts here in Spain

Rotondas (roundabouts) are the biggest complaint about driving in Spain for us Brits here en España. I don’t think any British driver over here has not had a close call on one, so if you haven’t experienced it I recommend reading how you should negotiate a rotunda.

Apart from driving on the wrong side of la carretera the rules are almost the same but there are a few importante differences.

  1. rotundas (the right hand lane is for all exits and the use of indicators is almost voluntary
  2. ITV sticker on the windscreen
  3. Carry your papers tus papeles with you

the papers you need are

  1. Driving Licence, Licencia de conducir
  2. Insurance (seguro) Document and the bank recipt (recibo del banco)
  3. Permiso de Circulación  a paper essentially saying a car is a car. Mad but without this the police can take your coche away. I know this by experience.
  4. La Ficha Técnica also called Tarjeta ITV a description of your car and the M.O.T. called ITV here in Spain
  5. and your pasaporte is a good thing to have on you)

I will add to these lists over time

Numbers up to 99

  1. uno / un / una not only does it mean one it also mean “a”
  2. Dos
  3. Tres
  4. Quatro
  5. Cinco
  6. Seis
  7. Siete
  8. Ocho
  9. Nueve
  10. Diez
  11. Once
  12. Doce
  13. Trece
  14. Catorce
  15. Quince

These quince words just have to be learnt. All through this site we are trying to just feed you Spanish words until you start to recognise and and feel you could use them but sorry these just have to be forced into your memory. Without them you will never feel you have learn’t Spanish

16 to 99 are much easier. Once more words to learn and a simple rule and up to noventa y nueve is easy to learn

  • dieciseis is 16 (literally ten and seven) but saying diezysies is impossible to say so the “ten and” is changed to “dieci”
  • diecisiete, dieciocho, diecinueve
  • veinte is 20
  • veintiuno is twenty one,
  • veintidós, veintitres, veinticuatro, veinticinco, veintiseis, veintisiete, veintiocho, veintinueve
  • treinta is 30
  • treinta y uno, treinta y dos, treinta y tres, etc
  • cuarenta
  • cuarenta y unocuarenta y dos, cuarenta y tres, etc
  • cincuenta is 50,
  • sesenta is 60
  • setenta is 70
  • ochenta is 80
  • noventa is 90



Greeting people “Hi! how are you?” or “Good Day sir”

To greet someone as a friend or more respectfully is something I will always get wrong sometimes.
In Spanish there are 2 different words for “you” Tu and Usted, and the difference is quite important. Usted is a formal and Tu is a friend or someone much younger than you.
Once you understand that you should be ok.

Hola. ¿Que tal? is the most common greeting “hi. How are you?” you will encounter which you should respond muy bien (very good). Unless you want to hear all about peoples problems I would just keep to hola. I have a friend who pops in twice a week or so to tell me about his sciatica and diabeties ever since i said Que tal. You have been warned, friends will tell you things that are wrong about themselves.
In a more formal setting use Buenos, Buenos días or Buenos tardes instead depending on the time of day. Buenos días seams to be used until 5pm ish and tardes afterwards. If you arn’t sure, do what I do and use Buenos.

Mañana is Morning / Tomorrow
is Daytime / Day,
Tarde is afternoon / Late

but notice the “s” on both the greeting. “s” on the end of a word means plural so why is it there? Well I really don’t know. Maybe someone does and can post the reason in a comment below.

Cafe Culture

Coffee is almost as a defining part of the Spainsh leisure culture as the ubiquitous Caña y Tapa. It is so important to Spain that every little cafe or bar has to have a Professional Coffee Machine as the centerpiece of the bar. Never will you see a coffee made from granules in any self respecting place.

It is assumed you know exactly what you are ordering because it is so ingrained in their culture, so before trying to translate white with 2 sugars read on:

  • If you ask for a Café you will get a Black Coffee with no milk.
  • A Café con leche is a crossover between a classic English coffee and an Latte.
  • A Cortado is a strong small coffee topped with frothy milk, generally drank after a meal or in the afternoon. Cortado means cut but in this case is used for small
  • un café solo is a very strong small espresso also usually drank in the afternoon or after a meal
  • Café con hielo is where it starts to get weird. Ask for one of these and you get 2 glasses. 1 with hot coffee and the other with ice. The fresh hot coffee is pored over the ice and then drank.
  • Café Bonbón is made with sweet condensed milk which sits at the bottom of a dark café solo . Definately for those with a sweet tooth.

Sugar is never added for you but always comes in packets on the side.
These are the main coffees you will encounter in a Spanish café or bar

How to ask for something in a café or bar

In the early days of your soon to be mastery of Spanish keep it simple. Learn “I want”, Quiero, and “Do you have”, Tienes, and you are on your way to being able to pass as a local or at least not a typical Guiri. (a slang term for a foreigner and can be used insultingly. )
If you are in a café bar o restaurante (that missing “r” isn’t a typo, o is en Español) it is normal to have a tab running and pay at the end. How do the Camareros remember who has had what? I’m sure if I had to do Camarero‘s job I would end up with a  pile of papers and never work out which table had had what.
What is not normal is to stand at the bar, order a drink and then pay before sitting down. The camarero will think you are trying not to tip him and you will get strange looks. Imagine the looks if you were in a Michelin star restaurant and you walk up to the kitchen and order the food there.
Que es normal es to sit down and drinks in a bar is done exactly like you would in a resaurante and at the end you would ask for “La cuenta por favor
When you pay it is normal to leave a tip (unless you have had very bad service and will not return) 10% is common. Tips to a Camarero es muy importante (muy : very, importante : important) as a lot of their jobs are seasonal and during winter a lot are laid off.

How to use this site

Hi there folks. Hopefully this site might help a few people to pick up a bit more Spanish than the already have. Many Brits in Spain, especially in Benidorm have lived many years here and never picked up any more than they would watching the Terminator movies and Fawlty Towers. Many Spanish feel we should be ashamed at our lack of language skills and I sort of agree.
Whether it is due to our lazy nature, education or something else I cannot say but places like Benidorm are partly to blame. It is so easy NOT to learn Spanish “why bother?”

Well, the reason to bother is it opens so many options for you. Even just mastering the Ps & Qs and a couple of platitudes like “i’m sorry. My Spanish is very bad” ( Lo siento. Mi español es muy malo ) and “I am learning Spanish” ( Estoy aprendiendo español ) will get you far better help from any Spaniard and start building friendships/acquaintances here in Spain. I know this works from personal experience!

Well that’s one reason for this site. A bit of help for people who want to learn Spanish who don’t have time or inclination to immerse themselves in a subject to learn a language like Spainish.

Here is how I have made the site work. All the Spanish text is in italics and if you click on it you will hear the correct pronunciation (according to Google’s text to speech api, Thank you for such a brill tool) and if you click the microphone next to it you can try it yourself and Google’s speech recognition will give you what a Spaniard might understand you  to say. (once again thank you Google)

A couple of points and tips. Speech recognition technology is far from perfect but is getting better every year. If you loose your rag with it stop BEFORE you throw your computer out of the window or smashing it. Also if anything is wrong on this site, Sorry, but I have done my best in the free time I have and can not be held responsible for any mistake you may make using any information on this site. EG. if you want to order milk and rice crispies and you get diesel, fertiliser and the Guardia Civil asking why you need the ingredients of a bomb, I refuse to pay your legal fees.

I really hope you can help you.