[List 1] – Que dices?? Common Phrases and Words used in Spain

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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. 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 Latinx 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 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

  • 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 words and phrases I heard as a speaker of Americanized Spanish in Spain. This will be the fist 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) it helps you out when you go to Spain.



Cuesta un poco to understand everything those Spaniards are saying…





Que guay

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.  Que 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.




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 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, people will also understand that too so no worries there.





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!






This word is a slang term that refers to your your job/what you do for a living. Your curro. When pronouncing it, make sure to make the double r sound…cuuurrrrrooo.






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, as in i’m flipping out of excitement or shock and they adopted their own version from it. 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! 






This is a word that I would hear my 8 year old students throw to 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. 





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 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.


Hasta la proxima,









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2 Replies to “[List 1] – Que dices?? Common Phrases and Words used in Spain”

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