Speaking the language

"It's Spanish Jim... but not as we know it"

The Canary Islands speak their Spanish in South American rather than Catalan style so the letter 'c' here is pronounced as an 's' rather than as a 'th' which means you won't find yourself wondering why everyone has a lisp. On the down side, the Tenerife accent is very pronounced with vowels being dropped, word endings disappearing and entire sentences being run off as if they were a single word which makes it all terribly difficult to comprehend.

Getting by

It's a well known fact that if you're staying in Los Cristianos, Playa de Las Américas, Golf del Sur or Los Gigantes you'll find that English is understood by most people, unless of course you're asking the taxi driver for your change or you want the burger with the fries but without the salad and the mayo'. But move away from the big resorts or stray from the menu and you'll find that a few basic Spanish phrases go a long way in helping you to be understood.


Hi - Hola! (o-la!)

How's it going? - Que tal? (kay-tal)

Good morning - Buenos días (bwen-oss dee-as)

Good afternoon (afternoon in Spain doesn't begin until after 2pm) - Buenas tardes (bwen-ass tar-dess)

Good evening/night - Buenas noches (bwen-ass notch-ess)

Good bye - Adios (a-dee-oss)

See y' later - Hasta luego (asta loo-aygo)

Please - Por favor (pour fa-voor)

Thank you - Gracias (grassy-ass)

The hotel

My room is … - Mi habitación es (me abby-tass-ee-on ess)...

·       ideal - perfecto (purr-feck-toe)

·       dirty - sucio (sue-sea-o)

·       noisy - ruidoso (roo-ee-doe-so)

The bathroom - El baño ( ban-yo)

The taxi

How much to... Cuánto cuesta á...(kwan-toe kwes-ta a)

Give me back...(change) - Dame...(dam-ay)

Left - Izquierda (is-key-air-da)

Right - Derecha (dare-etch-a)

Straight on - Todo recto (toe-doe wreck-toe)

The restaurant

The bill please - La cuenta por favor (la kwen-ta pour fa-voor)

Set menu - Menú del día (men-oo dell dee-a)

Grilled - A la parilla (pa-ree-ya)

Baked - Al horno (or-no)

Pudding/dessert - El postre (poss-tray)

Where are the toilets? - Dondé están los servicios? (don-day est-anne loss, service-ee-oss?)

In the bar

Beer - Cerveza (sir-bay-sa)

White/red/rosé wine - Vino blanco/tinto/rosado (bee-no blank-o/tin-toe/roz-ah-doe)

A pint please - Una jarra por favor (oo-na harra pour fa-voor )

A half please - Una caña por favor (oo-na can-ya pour fa-voor)

In the shop

Do you have/is there...? - Hay...? (aye...?)

Where is? - Dónde está? (don-day est-ah?)

What price is this? - Qué precio es este? (kay pressio ess ess-tay?)

I need a bigger/smaller size – me falta una talla mas grande/pequeño (meh fal-ta una tie-ya mass gran-day/peck-en-yo)

The calculator and the calendar

one - uno (oon-owe)

two – dos (doss)

three – tres (trez)

four – quatro (kwa-troe)

five – cinco (sink-o)

six – seis (say-s)

seven – siete (sea-et-tay)

eight – ocho (otcho)

nine – nueve (new-ay-bay)

ten – dice (dee-say)


Monday – lunes (loo-nays)

Tuesday – martes (mar-tays)

Wednesday – miercoles (mee-err-co-lays)

Thursday – jueves (who-eh-bays)

Friday – viernes (bee-err-nays)

Saturday – sabado (sa-bah-doe)

Sunday - domingo (doe-min-go)


January - enero (en-air-oh)

February - febrero (feb-rare-oh)

March - marzo (mar-so)

April - abril (a-breel)

May – mayo (my-oh)

June - junio (hoo-knee-oh)

July - julio (hoo-lee-oh)

August - agosto (a-goss-toe)

September - septiembre (sep-tee-em-bray)

October – octubre (ock-too-bray)

November - noviembre (know-vee-em-bray)

December - diciembre (dee-see-em-bray)


...and finally, three essential phrases:

I like/don't like - me gusto/no me gusto (meh-gust-oh); an easy way to register satisfaction or disappointment at everything from the soup to your resort.

I don't speak Spanish – no hablo español (know-a-blow ess-pan-yol); to be employed when someone starts rabbiting on to you in Spanish.

I don't speak English – no hablo inglés (know-a-blow een-glaze); for when the timeshare touts and PRs start asking you if you're having a nice holiday.