Social Spanish for Beginers

Socializing and Other Indiscretions


Latino hosts introduce guests to one another even at large gatherings with a simple:

Te presento a Brad, “let me introduce you to Brad.”

If introducing Brad to Ambassador Gonzalez, say:

Embajador, Brad.

Graciously offering a hand, Ambassador Gonzalez would reply:

Mucho gusto, “nice to meet you.”

Spanish-speakers draw a linguistic line by switching from the familiar you, tú, to the formal usted, which makes them less fastidious about personal space and touching. It’s okay to rest a hand on a forearm or shoulder while complimenting a blusa, “blouse,” or músculos, “muscles.”

A student asked: “What do you touch when complimenting someone’s intelligence?” Some questions are better left unanswered.

Night Life

Edwards defined language in the eighteenth century as intelligent conversation. Clubs are particularly adept for language novices with environments demanding concise exchanges between long intervals.

Hola, soy Brad, “hi, I’m Brad,” will suffice for an introduction. Options for conversation thereafter are infinite:

Soy apolítico, ¿y tú?

Yo soy vegetariana.

Soy divorciado.

Yo no soy soltera, “I’m not single.” Soy casada, “I am married,” pero, “but,” tengo un matrimonio abierto, “I have an open marriage.”

A silent interval? Bring forth your hand over other patrons, as if reaching for the foot of an escaping angel, and grasp the waiter:

Una cerveza, por favor, “a beer, please.” And turning to the one you just met: ¿Y tú?

Nothing like a captive audience to exteriorize self-objectivity:

Soy inteligente, educado, talentoso, honesto, interesante, sensible and rico. Rico, a linguistic jewel, conveys wealth, deliciousness, sex appeal and a huggable innocence:Qué rico es el señor Rockefeller; qué rica es la paella; qué rica está Jennifer Lopez and qué rico Pedrito, “how cute little Peter, how sweat, oh, I want to hug him.”

And here comes the waiter again:

Otra cerveza, por favor.

Imbibing takes care of Brad’s inhibitions and he improvises:

¿Y tú, mi amor? "And you, my love?"

Rosa, taken aback by his familiarity, changes from tú to usted, raising an eyebrow.

Brad offended:

No estoy borracho, “I am not drunk.” Estoy feliz, “I am happy”

Language Recycling

Hemmingway got away with three phrases: 1. Una cerveza. 2. Dame un beso, “give me a kiss.” 3. Llama a mi abogado, “call my lawyer.”

You can recycle these phrases to increase your Spanish exponentially. Substitute café for kiss and you are asking for coffee, and dame el mensaje, “message,” el masaje, “massage,” dame el memo, el teléfono, el fax, and la cuenta, “the check.”

If you do ask for a kiss, and sense reluctance, add please: dame un beso, por favor. If reluctance escalates to a reprimand, say: Por favor, llama a mi abogado (not to be confused with avocado, aguacate, a word Aztecs used for both the butter fruit and testicles.)

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Raúl Guerrero is a journalist, historian, and  writer specializing in women’s struggles and language. He is the author of numerous works, notably the novels INSOLENCE and La dudosa fuga de la cronista LIBERTINA. He lectures frequently in Florida and New York. 

Contact him at

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