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Hola Mae!

Spanish Cheat Sheet

Most people that you deal with in Costa Rica speak English.  However, It is fun and often helpful if you have a Spanish speaker in your group or you know a few phrases.  Here is a list that is certainly not all-inclusive of common phrases and words you might want to use while you are here created by our team in Costa Rica.  We’ve also included some fun phrases that are idioms used by the locals.  They will get a kick out of it if you try to use them.  


Phrases that might be useful to know:


Do you speak English?- Habla inglés? (ha-blah ing-lace)

I don’t understand – Yo no entiendo (yoh no in-tea-end-oh)

Which is your favorite restaurant?- Cual es tu favorito soda?  (qwall s to fa-vor-ito soda)

What is your favorite food? – Cual es tu comida favorita?  (qwall s to co-meda fa-vor-ita)

Can we have a table for two? – Podemos tener una mesa para dos (poh-day-mose ten-air oooh-na may-sah par-ah dose)

What do you recommend? –  Que me recomienda (kay may rec-come-e-end-a)

Check please! – La cuenta por favor (la qwen-tah pour fah-vore)

Please- Por favor (pour fah-vore)

Thank you! – Gracias (grah-c-us)

Nice to meet you! – Mucho gusto! (moo-cho goo-stow)

Excuse me – Disculpe (dis-cool-pay)

Can you help me? – Me puede ayudar (may pway-day-ah-you-dar)

Can you please repeat? – Me puede repetir (may pway-de rep-eh-tear)

I want . . . – Yo quiero (yoh key-err-oh …)

Where is the bathroom? – Donde esta el baño (doughn-day es-tah el bahn-yo)

How much does it cost? – Cuanto cuesta (kwan-toe quest-tah)

Phrases you might hear (and use): 

 These are common phrases that you might hear all the time while you are in Costa Rica.  But, if you know Spanish, they don’t always translate or mean what you think.  It is super fun for the locals to hear you use these common idioms and phrases for the area, so don’t be afraid to give them a try.  They know you are trying to learn their language and culture.

Pura Vida (pure-a vedah) – It means ‘pure life’ but is a common saying used as a greeting or salutation.  They use this phrase for pretty much anything.  When in doubt say ‘Pura Vida!’

Que Chiva (kay cheevah) – Means impressive.  So if something is impressive or someone does something impressive you will hear ‘Que Chiva’.

Que tuanis (kay twah-knees) – Means ‘too nice’ and is a common phrase used to say  “good job”

Estoy en quema (es-toy en kay-ma) – Means that you are running out of money.  It’s a way to bargain and say something is too expensive or you can’t afford it.

A cachete (ah kah-shet-ay)  –  This is a response to someone asking ‘how are you doing?’ or ‘how is your trip going?’  It means you are good.  It really represents your cheeks being full like a chipmunk, so you’re saying – I’m doing great, see my cheeks are full! 

Todo bien? (toe-doe be-en) – This is a question asking if all is good in your life.  All good?

Solo bueno!! (sow-lo bway-no) – Means everything in your life is only good!  This is a great response to Todo Bien?

Tico time (tea-koh time) – Means Costa Rican Time.  This will probably not be your favorite, but while they plan and try to be on time, sometimes there can be a landslide – or a sloth they stop to see – that will delay their arrival.  They are an easy going people who justify it with – Tico time

No hay problema (no eye pro-blame-a) –  No worries.  No stress.  No problem

Hey Mae! (hay my) –   Hey dude or buddy.  Greeting for a friend

Con Gusto (cone goo-stow)- They often say this for “You’re Welcome” over De Nada

Soda – Means a restaurant.  Usually like a fast food restaurant, but ask those around you what their favorite soda is and you’ll get some excellent eats!

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