Mexican Catchy Phrases

Traveling in a foreign country can be challenging enough when the language spoken is foreign as well. This can be true for English-speakers traveling in Mexico. However, by studying a few things like funny phrases, Mexican slang words, and Mexican phrases before traveling, some of this challenge can be alleviated. As a result, the traveler will be able to understand more of his or her surroundings and relax into the local rhythm.

Funny Phrases

There are several expressions used in Mexican Spanish that mean one thing but actually say another. The following are some useful examples:

  1. Rather than flirting with you, a Mexican “throws you the dog” (te tira el perro).
  2. A confused Mexican actually “turns himself into balls” (se hace bolas).
  3. A Mexican doesn't hurry, he “goes into a motherly transformation” (va vuelto madre).
  4. A Mexican doesn't get mad either, he “turns into the big goat” (se encabrona).
  5. A Mexican won't wait for a miracle but rather go instead “to dance to Chalma” (se va a bailar a Chalma).
  6. A Mexican doesn’t almost fail but “makes it on his belly” (pasa de panzazo).
  7. Instead of killing time, a Mexican will be “poking his eyes” (está picándose los ojos).
  8. A Mexican doesn’t plan ahead but he “measures the water for the sweet potatoes” (le mide el agua a los camotes).
  9. A Mexican doesn’t raise funds; he just “builds a cow” (arma la vaca).
  10. And a Mexican doesn’t simply die; he “sucks lighthouses” (chupa faros).
Mexican Flag

© Esparta Palma - Mexican Flag

Mexican Slang

As evident by the previous section of phrases, not everything in Spanish translates directly. Here are a few more short phrases that you may hear and what they actually mean:

  1. ¿Qué onda? - “What wave?”, actually meaning “What’s up?”
  2. ¡Aguas! - "Waters!", actually meaning “Be careful!”
  3. ¡No manches! - "Don’t stain!”, actually meaning “Unbelievable!”

Mexican Phrases

Perhaps the most important things to know when traveling to Mexico are the most basic Spanish phrases. Beyond "sí" meaning "yes" and "no" meaning "no", there are some useful words for interacting with other people:

'Welcome' Sign

© Cameron Nordholm - 'Welcome' Sign

  • Por favor - please
  • Gracias - thank you
  • De nada - you're welcome
  • Lo siento - sorry
  • Discúlpeme - excuse me
  • Buenos días - good morning
  • Buenas tardes - good afternoon
  • Buenas noches - good night
  • Hola - hello
  • Bienvenidos - welcome
  • Adiós - goodbye
  • Hasta luego - see you later
  • ¿Cómo se llama? - What is your name?
  • Me llamo... - My name is...
  • ¿Cómo estas? - How are you?
  • Bien, gracias - good, thank you
  • Muy bien, gracias - very good, thank you
In Honour of Pancho Villa

© rocor - In Honour of Pancho Villa

  • ¿Hablas inglés? - Do you speak English?
  • No entiendo - I don't understand
  • ¿Donde está/están…? - Where is/are...?
  • ¿Cuando? - When? (What day?)
  • ¿A cuál hora? - When? (What time?)
  • ¿Quién? - Who?
  • ¿Por qué? - Why?
  • ¿Qué? - What?
  • ¿Cuanto tiempo? - How long? (Time)
  • ¿Cuánto cuesta? - How much does it cost?
  • ¿A qué distancia? - How far?
  • ¿Puede ayudarme? - Can you help me?
'No Touching' Sign

© Daniel Wood - 'No Touching' Sign

  • (No) me gusta - I (don't) like it
  • No sé - I don't know
  • Necesito - I need
  • Tengo hambre - I'm hungry
  • Tengo sed - I'm thirsty
  • Estoy cansado - I'm tired
  • Estoy listo / lista - I'm ready
  • Ahora mismo - right now
  • Un momento - just a moment
  • Entre / pase - come in!
  • Es barato - it's cheap
  • Es caro - it's expensive
  • Hace frío - it's cold out
  • Hace calor - it's hot out
  • Tengo calor - I'm hot (temperature)
  • Tengo frío - I'm cold (temperature)
  • Un poco - a little
  • Mucho - a lot
  • Unos / unas - some
  • Mañana - tomorrow
  • La mañana - the morning
  • La tarde - the afternoon
  • La noche - the evening / night
  • La semana próxima - next week

 

Restaurant Sign in Mexico

© Lucy Nieto - Restaurant Sign in Mexico

 

Emergency Instructions in Mexican Hotel

© Sean Hoyer - Emergency Instructions in Mexican Hotel

At the Hotel

  • El baño - bathroom
  • Abierto - open
  • Cerrado - closed
  • Cama - bed
  • Toalla - towel
  • Jabón - soalp
  • Almohada - pillow
  • La ducha / el baño - shower
  • Plancha - iron
  • Secador de pelo - hairdryer
  • No hay toallas - there aren't any towels
  • Tengo problema - I have a problem

At a Restaurant

Mexican Drinks Menu

© Atzimba - Mexican Drinks Menu

  • Mesero (mesera) - waiter (waitress)
  • Quiero / quisiera - I want / I would like
  • La cuenta, por favor - the bill please
  • Desayuno - breakfast
  • Almuerzo / comida - lunch
  • Cena - dinner (evening meal)

Food

Keep Calm and Eat Mexican Food

© Samuel Abram - Keep Calm and Eat Mexican Food

  • Te - tea
  • Café negro - black coffee
  • Café con leche - coffee with milk
  • Leche - milk
  • Hielo - ice
  • Agua mineral - mineral water
  • Cerveza - beer
  • Vino - wine
  • Vino blanco - white wine
  • Vino tinto - red wine
  • Limonada - lemonade
  • Jugo - juice
  • Huevo - egg
  • Huevos revueltos - scrambled eggs
  • Queso - cheese
  • Mantequilla - butter
  • Pan - bread
  • Fruta - fruit
  • Pescado - fish
  • Ensalada - salad
  • Sopa - soup
  • Azúcar - sugar
  • Sal - salt

Days of the Week

Street Sign

© Leo Prieto - Street Sign in Mexico

  • Domingo - Sunday
  • Lunes - Monday
  • Martes - Tuesday
  • Miércoles - Wednesday
  • Jueves - Thursday
  • Viernes - Friday
  • Sábado - Saturday
Funny Sign, Cabo San Lucas

© Nan Palmero - Funny Directions, Cabo San Lucas

Numbers

  • 1 uno
  • 2 dos
  • 3 tres
  • 4 cuatro
  • 5 cinco
  • 6 seis
  • 7 siete
  • 8 ocho
  • 9 nueve
  • 10 diez

Directions

  • Derecho - straight ahead
  • La izquierda - left
  • La derecha - right

Facts about Mexican Phrases

  • These are just a few examples of the many useful Spanish words for traveling in Mexico.
  • Becoming familiar with regional food items is a good idea for preparing oneself with future restaurant menus.
  • Having directional vocabulary down will make asking questions and getting around easier.
  • Finally, knowing numbers will facilitate making purchases and asking how much something costs.
  • Having the basic vocabulary, along with some of the street slang and funny phrases down, one can avoid much confusion while traveling abroad.