Spanish Words You Need To Know
Many people choose to learn Spanish after finding the language so often in their day-to-day life.
After all, Spanish stars prominently in much of today's most pop music and foods. Other people learn Spanish because they will travel to, or work in, one of the 20 countries around the world where Spanish is the official language.
Whether it's for vacation, just as a hobby, or because it is necessary, you can hit the ground running in the Spanish language by familiarizing yourself with how to learn Spanish vocabulary the smart way.
Then we will teach you thousands of Spanish vocab items, instantly and with almost 0 effort.
After that, we will teach you some basic Spanish words and phrases to begin speaking immediately.
Finally, we discuss different lists of Spanish words, so you can find out what best matches your situation.
Learning Spanish vocabulary and phrases is essential, as the grammar alone won't teach you how the language is used by the 437 million Spanish speakers worldwide.
You must know enough words in Spanish, if you want to speak the language.
Common Spanish Words
You probably already know that not all words are created equal. You use some words more often than others. If you want to learn a language quickly, you should learn the most common words first.
Did you know that you use the exact 1000 words over and over again in a day? Around 80% of all spoken communication consists of just the 1000 most common words. This holds true for virtually all natural languages around the world. In Spanish, there are currently around 350.000 words in modern use.
That is why you'd want to learn the most common words first, because out of all the 350.000 words, you only need to know a tiny percentage to become fluent.
You can download the 100 most common Spanish words here, for free. These cover about 50% of all Spanish that you need to know.
Below, our Spanish frequency dictionary ebooks are available from our website. You can get the paperbacks from Amazon.
- Spanish Frequency Dictionary 1 - Beginner Spanish
- Spanish Frequency dictionary 2 - Intermediate Spanish
- Spanish Frequency dictionary 3 - Advanced Spanish
- Spanish Frequency dictionary 4 - Fluent Spanish
Basic Spanish Words
For beginner Spanish lessons, you start by learning some very basic Spanish terms. Build your confidence up by starting with some basic vocabulary so you can start building your Spanish word bank:
- Hola = Hello
- Adiós = Goodbye
- Sí = Yes
- No = No
- Por favor = Please
- Gracias = Thank you
- Lo siento = Sorry
- Salud = Bless you (after someone sneezes) [lit. "health"]
- ¿Quién? = Who?
- ¿Dónde? = Where?
- ¿Qué? = What?
- ¿Por qué? = Why?
Now that you grasp a few basic Spanish vocabulary items, we can dive into the conversational phrases that'll help you ease into real-world conversations.
Spanish Word List
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If you're looking for a list of Spanish words, we can recommend our vocabulary lists based on how often you would use a word. We developed these so learners can quickly expand their Spanish vocabulary.
You can get them as e-books from our website, or as paperbacks from Amazon.
- Spanish Frequency Dictionary 1 - Beginner Spanish
- Spanish Frequency Dictionary 2 - Intermediate Spanish
- Spanish Frequency Dictionary 3 - Advanced Spanish
- Spanish Frequency Dictionary 4 - Fluent Spanish
We focus primarily on creating word lists by frequency. Other types of Spanish word lists base themselves on different themes. Themes like at the supermarket, the bathroom, the zoo, etc.
Most other traditional language learning methods use thematic learning. The idea was that you could handle yourself in a wide range of situations. The idea is good in theory, but it is not very efficient in practice.
Learning all that vocabulary per theme is a bit outdated. We can now analyze any language with AI. The AI tells us what words are used most often, and are thus valuable to know. Go further down the list, and the vocabulary will - rather quickly - become less and less useful to know. The diminishing returns are so great at around 10.000 words, that you would like to switch to thematic learning.
Learning by topic is something you should do if you will be spending a lot of time in that field. This is relevant to your situation when you need to know specific vocabulary when at the baker, the airport, the hairdresser, on the road, etc., or for a professional situation. Maybe you need to know specific business-related vocabulary or medical vocab.
But thematic learning should not be used for beginning lessons. I am not often at airports in my daily life. And when I'm there, people always speak English anyway.
I'd rather spend 10 hours learning the most common words, and laser-focus on words that I will actually use, than to use a shotgun approach and try to learn random vocabulary all over the place, and then hope that I'm going to use (some of) it someday.
Not progressing fast enough is very demotivational. It is the number 1 reason why people give up learning a language.
How Many Spanish Words Do You Need To Know?
It is impossible to say these numbers and statistics with 100% accuracy. These numbers represent a global average of multiple languages. Luckily, all natural languages tend to follow very similar patterns regarding the amount of vocabulary used. According to research, this is roughly the number of words you need to know to achieve different levels of fluency:
• 250 words. The top 250 make the essential core of a language. Without these words, you cannot construct any meaningful sentences.
• 750 words. You will use the top 750 words almost every single day.
• 2,500 words. You can now express everything you want to say, although you might need some creativity to do so.
• 5,000 words. This is roughly the active vocabulary of a native speaker who finished high school. You will understand about 90% of all written text.
• 10,000 words. If you're a native speaker who finished higher education, this is likely to be the size of your active vocabulary.
• 20,000 words. You'd need to recognize around 20.000 words passively to read, understand, and enjoy a work of literature, such as a novel by a notable author.
How Many Spanish Words Should I Learn Per Day?
Minimum of one new word, we'd say. However, even if you don't have much time, try to review at least ten words per day. You will achieve fluency much quicker if you study 30 words per day instead of just 10.
Learn 20 new words per day, and reach 1000 words in 50 days.
Learn 30 new words, and you will reach 80% understanding, or enough to get by in the language, in about a month.
Most successful polyglots learn about 20 new words a day consistently. It is a good mix of speed, time invested per day, and quick, noticeable progress results.
Spanish Words for Beginners
If you're looking for beginner Spanish word lists, you've come to the right place. You can start here in this article by learning basic greetings and introductions. If you got those basics down, then just start learning 10 new words per day.
If you need to know about 1000 words to understand 80% of all spoken language, it will take you a bit over three months to build your vocabulary up to workable fluency.
The first book in the series lists the top 2500 most common Spanish words. This book is perfect for beginner to intermediate students. You will know all the Spanish words for beginners with this book.
Intermediate Spanish Vocabulary
The second book in the series builds further on the vocabulary of the first book, and contains the 2501-5000 most common Spanish words. If you know the 5000 most common Spanish words, You will be considered fluent for almost all daily situations. You will have a vocabulary comparable to a native speaker who finished high school.
Advanced Spanish Words
Building further on the 5000 most used Spanish words, this book will teach you advanced Spanish vocabulary. It gives you the 5001 to 7500 most common Spanish words. Perfect if you're planning to work in and this language.
Fluent Spanish Vocabulary
If you're looking for very advanced Spanish vocabulary list, this is for you. It gives you the 7501-10.000 most common Spanish words. This would leave you with an active vocabulary comparable to a native speaker who finished higher education.
If you invest in all ebooks at once, we have a great deal for you on the 10.000 most common Spanish words. You'll always have all the Spanish vocabulary you need to know at your disposal.
All our books come with the following features.
The most common Spanish words.
These carefully selected Spanish vocabulary items make up all Spanish words you need to speak fluent Spanish. We present them to you in neatly organized word lists.
The word lists are sorted by:
- general frequency,
- frequency as part of speech (most used adjectives, nouns, verbs, etc.),
- and alphabetical order.
We included the alphabetical order so you can quickly lookup unknown Spanish items in the back of the book.
Each book has 2500 Spanish to English example sentences, showing you Spanish used in context.
And every sentence comes with its English translation. Expand your vocabulary by discovering new words through context. Words learned naturally through context are internalized in your speech quicker. You'll remember words faster due to repeated exposure.
IPA phonetic spelling of Spanish.
So you will always know how to pronounce Spanish correctly. We use the standard IPA (international phonetic alphabet) to write words phonetically.
Easy Spanish Words: Learn 1000's of Words Instantly.
One of the best things about learning Spanish, if you speak English, is that you already know thousands of Spanish terms. These words in Spanish are very easy for you to learn.
As an English speaker, you have a huge advantage in learning Spanish compared to a person trying to learn Spanish who speaks a native language from a country such as India, China, or Russia.
When you encounter words that are the same in both languages, you call these words cognates. The precise definition of cognate is a word in two different languages and has the same root or origin.
Since Spanish and English both have Latin roots, many words are the same or very close in both languages.
You have the benefit of the same alphabet and an extensive list of cognates. You can effectively start learning Spanish with an instant vocabulary boost of over 1000+ easy Spanish words.
General Rules for Cognates in Spanish
There are a few rules of thumb to use when identifying cognates.
- –ity in English will be –idad in Spanish (i.e. difficulty = dificultad)
- –ous in English will be –oso in Spanish (i.e. curious = curioso)
- –ance in English will be –ancia in Spanish (i.e. ambulance = ambulancia)
Spanish Cognates Without Spelling Changes
The easiest Spanish cognates to recognize are the same in English. However, the Spanish pronunciation of the word is usually somewhat different than what you're used to.
Spanish Cognates that Add an –ar or –ir
In Spanish, verbs end in –ar, -er, or –ir. Each follows its own conjugation rules. Many verb cognates exist by simply adding –ar or –ir to the English variant of the word.
- adopt – adoptar
- calm – calmar
- control – controlar
- limit – limitar
- invert – invertir
- insist – insistir
Spanish Cognates that Change –tion to –ción
The common English suffix –tion is used to form noun versions of verbs. It commonly expresses the state or action of the verb. Luckily for Spanish learners, the rule is consistent in Spanish nouns as well but with the ending –ción.
Some examples are: action – acción, celebration – celebración, condition – condición, nation – nación, and fiction – ficción.
Spanish Cognates that Add an –o
This type of cognate is so common that many Spanish learners will try adding an –o to any English word when they don't know the Spanish version. Sometimes it works, although this isn't always the case.
Some examples are: academic – académico, alcoholic – alcohólico, domestic – doméstico, organic – orgánico, and panic – pánico.
If you want to learn Spanish, you need to know Spanish words. Our books provide you with a smarter way to learn Spanish vocabulary. If you're serious about learning Spanish, you should invest in a proper method to learn Spanish vocab. It will save you time and frustration, and help ease and shorten your learning process.