It’s no great secret that to be able to really explore a city and get to know its culture you’ll need to be able to speak a little of the local lingo. Here are 17 essential phrases that will help you get around the city and make friends with the locals when visiting Barcelona.
Greetings and essentials
Bon dia (bon-dee-ah) / Hello
A simple ‘good day’ will get you a long way when it comes to getting off on the right foot with the locals.
Merci (mehr-see) / Thank you
The ‘correct’ Catalan for ‘thank you’ is actually graciès (gra-si-as) but here in Barcelona you’ll mostly hear people saying ‘merci‘. Catalan has a lot in common with French and in this case the words are identical.
De res (da-ress) / You’re welcome
Saying please and thank you is just as important in Barcelona as it is anywhere else. Show off your good manners when someone thanks you for something with a courteous de res.
Adéu (ah-deh-ou) / Goodbye
It doesn’t matter whether people are speaking Spanish (Castellano) or Catalan, when it comes to saying goodbye everybody in Barcelona uses adéu.
Si us plau (see-ousse-plow) / Please
Another expression which shows similarities with French, si us plau literally means ‘if you please’ and is often pronounced nearly as one word: syousplow.
On és el banc més proper? (on-ess-al-bank-mess-proupeh) / Where is the nearest bank?
Although most places do take cards, cash is still very much king in Barcelona, especially when you’re paying for small amounts (anything less than €10).
On puc trobar un taxi? (on-pook-tro-bar-oon-ta-xi) / Where can I find a taxi?
Getting around by foot is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to explore Barcelona, especially if you’re staying in the Old Town. However taxis are relatively affordable and are a good back-up plan when you’re feeling tired or have lots of bags. There are taxi ranks spread around the city but you can also hail a taxi on the street if it has a green light.
Com puc arribar a la Sagrada Família? (kom-pook-ari-bar-a-la… ) / How do I get to the Sagrada Família?
Given that you’ll probably spend at least some time exploring the city by foot, knowing how to ask your way around will come in useful. Whether it’s asking the way to the impressive Sagrada Família church or finding out how to get to the beach, you won’t be lost for long.
Esquerra (es-keh-ra) / Left
You’ll see this written on certain maps in the area between Sants and Sant Antoni over what is called the ‘Nova esquerra de l’Eixample’ or the ‘New left of the extension’. The large district known as L’Eixample actually just means ‘the extension’ and refers to the extension of Barcelona in the 19th century.
Dret (dret) / Right
At the restaurant / bar
Puc veure el menú? (pook-vo-r-al-men-u ) / Can I see the menu?
By law restaurants need to show the prices of the dishes they are selling so if you’re not sure of what is being offered to you, ask for the menu. During the week, many restaurant serve a worker’s lunch menu or ‘menu del dia’ which is good value for money and usually includes three courses and a drink.
Bon profit! (bon-pro-feet) / Bon appetit!
Don’t forget to wish your fellow diners a good meal with a friendly bon profit before tucking in.
Lamentem que arribem tard (lam-en-tem-kay-ari-bem-tar-d) / Sorry we’re late
Being late in Spain is not as frowned upon as it is in some countries so restaurants will generally have no worries with you arriving up to 15 minutes late for your reservation. However it’s always nice to apologise when you arrive even if they’re used to it.
At the market
Quant costa això? (kwant-co-sta-ay-sho) / How much does this cost?
At the market many items will be sold by weight so you’ll need to be specific when asking about the cost of items. In many cases the price will be shown per 100 grams and the stall owner will weigh vegetables, meat and fish without any problem so long as they haven’t been cut to order.
Què és això? (kay-es-ay-sho) / What is this?
Shopping in a foreign market can be quite an experience. If you see a funny looking fruit or an unusual cut of meat don’t hesitate to ask – even if the answer might leave you just as clueless.
Parla anglès? (parla-ang-less)? / Do you speak English?
If you’ve reached the limits of your Catalan conversational skills, then asking your interlocutor if they speak English might be the best solution. A lot of people speak at least a few words of English in the city, especially the younger generations and those working with tourists.
T’agradaria beure alguna cosa? (ta-gra-der-ee-a-be-ur-al-goo-na-co-sa) / Would you like a drink?
Having a drink with friends is a common pasttime in Barcelona and you’ll find the café terraces are full any time of the year.
U /un (m) (oon) / una (f) (oona) / 1
Dos (m) (dos) / dues (f) (dou-ass)/ 2
Tres (tress) / 3
Quatre (kwa-tra) / 4
Cinc (sink) / 5
Sis (see-ss) / 6
Set (set) / 7
Vuit (vweet) / 8
Nou (no) / 9
Deu (deh-ou) / 10