7 Super Helpful Common Phrases and Cool Spanish Slang That Every Latina Traveler Should Know

If you’re planning a trip to Spain soon, you might want to brush up on your Spanish. Even if you’re a native speaker.

It turns out that there are some common phrases and words used in Spain that are not as universal in the Spanish language as we may think. *Gasp*

I’ll admit that being a native Spanish speaker myself, I thought that the language would hardly be an issue for me when I moved to Madrid, Spain.

However, after my first few hours of being a newbie in Madrid, I started to realize big differences between Castellano (Spain Spanish) and my Mexican-American Spanish/Spanglish.

The accent wasn’t the only difference, but also tone, speed, and choices of words that in Mexican Spanish meant other things…

If you grew up as a first-generation Latino in the United States, you’ll understand the struggle it was/is to speak Spanish while learning and speaking English.  

For many of us, we’ve grown up learning Spanish as our native tongue, however, when we enter the school system in the States, we really challenge our brains to juggle 2 languages – our mother tongue and the language is widely spoken where we live.

As a result, we grow up speaking a different type of Spanish because again for some, Spanish sometimes takes a backseat when we are trying to learn English. Why? Because everything is in English and a lot of us don’t take Spanish grammar classes to maintain it, so we start to use words like the following:

  • Yarda (Backyard) when really it’s patio or jardin
  • Chores (shorts) when really it’s pantalones cortos
  • Troca (Truck) when it’s really camion

…you get the idea.

So with all that being a preface to my experience going into Castellano with my Spanish knowledge, here are some of the most interesting and generally different phrases and words used in Spain that I heard as a speaker of Americanized Spanish in Spain.

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This will be the first of a few other lists of Castellano slang and expressions because there are definitely more to add to the list! I hope that anyone who reads the list (especially if you are also Mexican-American, Chicano) helps you out when you go to Spain.

Cuesta un poco to understand everything those Spaniards are saying…

7 Super Helpful Common Phrases and Cool Spanish Slang That Every Latina Traveler Should Know

Que guay

When it comes to the most common words and expressions used in Spain, this is one of the top ones!

This one has stuck with me beyond my time in Spain, and I’ll say it every now and then.

It basically means how cool or neat.  

Qué guay! It just rolls off the tongue.  

You will hear this term be thrown out literally from everyone and even yourself after hearing it so much.

Read More: 5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Teaching English in Madrid, Spain

Mola mucho

If we break it down: Mola is a word that I had never heard of before, so it was hard to at least imagine what it could mean, and mucho means a lot.

I realized soon after that this is a saying that is used to express if you really like something.  

Example: Este bolso me mola mucho! I really like this bag!

Though I left Spain without asking anyone what Mola means or if it even means anything specific, it’s one of those words that just works even if it doesn’t have a direct definition, and people just go with it.


This one means traffic jams. Just traffic jams. 

As a Latina traveler and native speaker, this one wasn’t too hard to figure out just because of what atasco means anyways.

Atasco=jam..traffic jam!

Although if you say trafico, which is the word a lot of Mexicans and other Latinos use to describe traffic, people will also understand that too so no worries there.


You may hear this common phrase if you’re living in Spain and you’re around Spaniards whether that’s work or living with one.

This word literally means gossip.

For example, you like cotilla (gossip), so you will watch a show where they are cotillando (gossiping).

It’s chisme!

Read More: What It Was Like To Live and Teach English in Madrid, Spain as a Mexican-American Female


This word is a slang term that refers to your job/what you do for a living.

Your curro.

When pronouncing it, make sure to make the double “r” sound…cuuurrrrrooo.

If you’re working in Spain for example, say this common word a couple of times in front of your Spanish colleagues, and you’ll definitely impress them!

Read More: 7 Specific Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving to Madrid, Spain


This one was a funny one to listen to every time I heard it in my day to day, with co-workers, host family, and on TV.

Basically, Spaniards took flipar from the word flip (in English) as in I’m flipping out of excitement or shock and they adopted their own version from it.

This common word used in Spain by many may be one of the easier ones for even non-Spanish speakers/ English speakers to understand just from the similarity to the word “flip”.

Example: I have to tell you something big that happened at school today, you are going to flipar! No way! I’m flipando. Estoy que flipo de la emocion! 

Psst! If you’re looking to get a head start on your Spain Spanish literacy, then maybe consider chatting and learning with a real-life Spanish teacher on iTalki! I love this platform, and I have used it in the past when I was practicing Portuguese. The process to use the platform, and engage with an actual speaker of the language – no matter how beginner or advanced you may be – is priceless in my opinion. Plus, you get the added bonus of asking them cultural questions, travel tips, and other insights that only locals may have. Definitely consider checking out iTalki to practice some of the most common phrases and words used in Spain, below!


This is a word that I would hear my 8-year-old students throw at each other in annoyance, and it was also a word that I heard on television series and everywhere else by adults.  

To this day…I think that this means dumb, loser, or nerd…someone who is generally uncool. 

Not the nicest common phrase or word used in Spain out of this group, but definitely a good one to know ☝🏽 there’s a reason why bad words are some of the first words people pick up in a foreign language 👀.

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Read More: What Is It Like To Teach English in Spain? – 17 Of The Most Frequent Questions Answered!

Concluding thoughts on 7 Super Helpful Common Phrases and Cool Spanish Slang That Every Latina Traveler Should Know

How about you? Have you heard any words abroad as a native Spanish speaker and did you flipar when you realized how different it was from yours?? I always think it’s amazing how different the dialects change from country to country and regions as well – these words are generally used in all of Spain, but I know that even throughout Spain, the dialect, accent, tone, and speed change drastically as well as the choice of words.  

It’s important to consider that in different regions of Spain they have their own language for instance Vasco or Euskera spoken in the northern Basque Region including Navarra, Catalán in Cataluña including Barcelona, Valenciano in Valencia, and Gallego in Galicia…just to name a few. So that in itself definitely alters the differences in accent, tone, and speed when people speak Castellano.  

When I visited a friend from Valencia, for instance, I met her brother whom I could not understand at all whenever he said something because of his acento Valenciano, and sometimes I would also get weird stares for my {very Mexican accent}.

Same language, different sounds haha.

I’ll admit that sometimes it was borderline embarrassing even to try to speak my español Latino because I definitely had moments where I thought I said something correctly but then got blank stares from people (It turns out people in Spain do not refer to their pan as bolillo…).

Pero, I think if I could go back to that time in my life or just generally whenever I return to Spain in the future, I won’t hold back from speaking my Spanish despite the occasional stares I got when people didn’t understand me. We don’t all speak the same Spanish, and it is fascinating to hear other gentes dialect, isn’t it??

If you are about to leave for Spain,  don’t let blank stares and questioning deter you from speaking your Spanish with local Spaniards because mira, hasta within Spaniards they sometimes don’t even understand each other…

So let me know if you’ve had moments like these and if you’ve experienced different dialects! I’d love to know what your experience was like.

To more travel momentos like this,

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