Every language has a short list (a few dozen or so) of standard “answers” or “responses” to indicate commonly expressed sentiments (e.g yes, no, maybe, I don’t know, good luck, etc.).  Knowing these and being able to whip the correct one out immediately and automatically in response to someone goes a long way towards sounding like a native and making people feel comfortable speaking to you.  Spanish is no different, so I decided to make a list of what I thought were the most common Spanish phrases and expressions.

Below is a list of the most common such responses and comebacks in Spanish with an explanation for each.  This is one of the few circumstances where I’d actually recommend you just memorize the whole list as you’re guaranteed to use these with great frequency whenever you’re talking with native speakers.  At the bottom of this list I’ll tell you how to learn more on your own.

Es Un Decir

This is a handy expression in Spanish you may find yourself frequently using when you’re misunderstood, particularly if you feel like you might have said something potentially offensive or weird.  It means something like “it’s just a saying” or “it’s a way of speaking”.  Example:

“‘No des papaya’ es un decir colombiano que quiere decir que no permitas a alguien aprovecharse de ti.”  Which means…

“‘No des papaya’ is a Colombian saying that means don’t let someone take advantage of you”.


Para Que Conste

Constar” means “to be clear, certain, or evident” and that’s a pretty good explanation of how this particular expression works, though it’s not used in quite the same way we would use one of those words.  “Para que conste” means that something is obvious or evident, and is usually used with the same meaning as our expressions “for the record” (“que conste” means “let the record show”) and when used as a response to something it means “you promised and I’ll hold you to it” in the sense of “it’s on the record, I won’t forget about it”, e.g.

“Te llamo mañana.” = “I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Conste.” = “You promised, I’ll hold you to it.”

“Para que conste, nunca dije eso.” = “For the record, I never said that.”


¿Y Qué?

This literally means “and what?” so you can probably guess how it’s typically used: it’s how they would say “so what?” in Spanish.  Mind you, as in English with our expression “so what?” it can potentially have a rude connotation to it and is considered a bit brusque.  Example:

“¡Tu grande vaca morada se cagó en mi césped!” = “Your giant purple cow shat on my lawn!”

“¿Y qué? Es fertilizante, así…de nada” = “So what? It’s fertilizer, so…you’re welcome.”


Used the same way that we would use “And??” in English, meaning something like “so what?”, as in “and…what??”.  Example:

“¡Pero la mierda sólo es en una grande pila! ¡Mira!” = “But the shit is just in one big pile! Look!”

“¿Y? Sólo untala por.” = “And? Just spread it around.”

Da Igual / Da Lo Mismo

These two phrases mean the same thing and essentially amount to “it doesn’t matter” or “what’s the difference?”.  “Da igual” means literally “it’s equal” and “da lo mismo” means literally “it’s the same thing” but they’re both used whenever one wants to say that something doesn’t matter or that it doesn’t make a difference. Example:

“¿Quieres el carro rojo o el blanco?” = “Do you want the red car or the white one?”

“Da igual.” = “Doesn’t matter.”

O Sea

This is one of the most common Spanish phrases.  It means something like “you know” or “in other words”.  You’ll notice the use of the subjunctive here (if you don’t understand that completely already, be sure to see my article called The Subjunctive Explained) so “sea” means something like “could be” or “would be” and “o”, or course, means “or”, so with “o sea” you get something literally like “or that could/would be” which we would say a bit easier with the expression “in other words”.  Got it? Example:

“Pues, la respuesta pueda ser “sí”, pueda ser “no”, o sea…no sé.” = “Well, the answer could be yes, it could be no, that is to say…I don’t really know.”

Claro/Claro que Sí

Another very common Spanish expression, it literally means “clear” but is 100 times more commonly used to mean “sure”, “of course” or “naturally”.  “Claro que sí” essentially means the same thing and translates to something like “Of course yes” as in “of course the answer is yes”. People will frequently use this particular expression in one-sided conversations, especially on the phone, to show that they’re still listening with the occasional “claro”. Examples:

“¿Vienes?” “Claro.” = “Are you coming?” “Of course.”

[On the phone]

Them: “Blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah…blah blah!”

You: “Claro.”

Them: “Así, blah blah!! blahblahblahblahblah.”

You: “Claro.”

Them: “¿Sabes?” (“You know?”)

You: “Claro.”

Them: “Blah blah es blah! ¿No pienses?” (“Don’t you think?”)

You: “Claro.”

Get it? 😀

Para Nada

It literally means “For nothing” but is the way that you would say “No way”, so it’s just another way of saying “no”, really.  Example:

“¿Vas a comer tu vaca grande morada?” = “Are you going to eat your giant purple cow?”

“¡Para nada!” = “No way!”

En Absoluto

This one can sometimes be cause for confusion for some beginners because it’s actually a negative but doesn’t look like it because it doesn’t have the word “no” in it.  It does not mean “absolutely” which is what it looks like, it actually means “absolutely not” (no, I don’t know why they did this, but they did). Example:

“Así, ¿no vas a comprar ese carro?” = “So, you’re not going to buy that car.”

“En absoluto, es demasiado caro.” = “Absolutely not, it’s too expensive.”


The best equivalent of this would be “imagine that!” and would be used in similar circumstances, it’s a bit formal and would be used in situations where saying something like “holy shit!” would be inappropriate.

Something interesting about this one is that it’s reflexive (notice the “se” on the end) with the verb itself (“imaginar“) being in the formal singular 3rd person imperative form (“imagíne”).  If you were speaking to someone that you would use the tú form with, then you’d say “imagínate” instead.


Grandma: “¡Tienen teléfonos ahora que pueden tomar fotos!”

You: “¡Imagínese!” = “Imagine that!”

En Tus Sueños

Literally and actually means “In your dreams”, yet one more way of saying “no”. Example:

“¿Quieres quitarte la ropa y bailar como Shakira para mí?” = “Do you want to take your clothes off and dance like Shakira for me?”

“En tus sueños.” = “In your dreams.”

Estás Loco

Means what it looks like: “you’re crazy”, used in precisely the same way that we would.  Also used where we would say “you must be kidding!”.  Example:

“Debes usar un carro en lugar de tu vaca morada.” = “You should use a car instead of your purple cow.”

“¡Estás loco!” = “You’re crazy!”


Verdad” literally means “truth” but is frequently used to mean something like “Really?” or “Is that so?”.  Examples:

“Manejo una vaca grande morada.” = “I am driving a large purple cow.”

“¿Verdad?” = “Really?”

“Sí, verdad.” = “Yes, really.”

Ni Loco

“Ni” literally means “nor” (unless uttered by The Knights Who Say ‘Ni’, in which case that’s an entirely different context) so you can see how in this case “ni loco” means “not even if I were crazy”, so one more way of saying “no” emphatically.  Example:

“¿Alguna vez consideraría comer dos kilos de queso a la vez?” = “Would you ever consider eating two kilos of cheese at once?”

“¡Ni loco!” = “Not even if I were crazy!”

Ya Basta

A common Spanish phrase whenever someone is angry.  As you probably already know, “ya” means “already”.  And since “Basta” means “enough”, you can easily see how the expression “ya basta” would mean “enough already”.  Example:

“¡Papa!  ¿Ya llegamos? ¿Ya llegamos? ¿Ya llegamos? ¿Ya llegamos? ¿Ya llegamos? ¿Ya llegamos?” = “Dad! Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

“¡Ya basta!!!!” = “Enough already!!!!”

¿En Serio?

“Serio” means “serious” –> “en serio” means “seriously?”.  Simple.  Use it where we would use “seriously?” or “really?”.  Example:

“Vine al trabajo por vaca morada.” = “I came to work on a purple cow.”

“¿En serio?” = “Seriously?”

“No.” = “No.” 😀

¡Qué Barbaridad!

“Barbaridad” means “barbarity”, that is “something barbaric”, a cruelty, some terrible event.  So “qué barbaridad” means something like “what a barbarity!” and would be used when we would say “how terrible!” or “oh my god” in response to a bad event that has just taken place, such as a natural disaster. Example:

“¡Japón acaba de sufrir un terremoto terrible!” = “Japan has just suffered a terrible earthquake!”

“¡Qué barbaridad!”

¿Cómo no?

This just means “Why not?” and is used in exactly the same way we would use that expression, it’s just another way of saying “yes”. It can also be used to mean “Why not?” in the literal sense of a question asking someone why they’re not doing something. Examples:

“¿Quieres venir?” = “Do you want to come?”

“¿Cómo no?” = “Sure, why not.”

“No quiero venir.” = “I don’t want to come.”

“¿Cómo no?” = “Why not?”

Es El Colmo

“Colmo” means “height” as in “the height of stupidity”, meaning to the very greatest degree.  The expression “es el colmo” or “eso es el colmo” means “that’s the last straw” or “that’s it [in the sense of it being the last thing you’re going to take, the final insult, etc.]”. Example:

“Tu vaca morada ha comido todos mis azaleas…eso es el colmo, ahora voy a comer tu vaca.” = “Your purple cow has eaten all my azaleas…that’s the last straw, now I’m going to eat your cow.”

“¡Mooooo!” = “Nooooo!”

Bonus!  “Para el colmo” means “to top it off”, and the way you say “the last straw was” is “El colmo para…”, e.g. “The last straw for me was when he came to work naked” would be “El colmo para mi era cuando vino al trabajo desnudo.”

No Puede Ser

Very simple, “poder” means “can or to be able to” and “ser” means “to be”, so with “no puede ser” we end up with “it cannot be” or “that can’t be”. Example:

“He comido tu vaca morada. Jajaja.” = “I’ve eaten your purple cow. Hahaha.”

“¡No puede ser!” = “It cannot be!”

No Me Diga

It literally means “don’t tell me” and is frequently used in that sense to mean something like “don’t tell me that” but it’s usually not meant that you literally don’t want them to tell you something, but as an expression of exasperation in the same way that we would use the expression “don’t tell me that”.  The tú form for use with people you’re familiar with would be “no me digas”.  Example:

“Necesito una vaca morada nueva.” = “I need a new purple cow.”

“Lo siento, pero estamos agotados.” = “I’m sorry, but we’re all out of stock.”

“No me diga…” = “Don’t tell me that…”

Está Bien

This is how you say “ok” without saying “ok”, which is, by the way, a very common expression in the Spanish language and is probably the English expression that has the widest cross-language penetration in the world (meaning that it’s commonly used in more languages than any other English expression).  It’s also what you would use to say “that’s good” (that’s the literal translation of the expression, by the way: “está” = “is” and “bien” = “good”) or “alright” or “fine with me” etc.  You get the idea. Examples:

“Ya me voy.” = “I’m leaving now.”

“Está bien, hasta luego.”= “Alright, see you later.”

“Ya me voy, ¿está bien?” = “I’m leaving now, ok?”

“Está bien.” = “Ok.”

De Acuerdo

Just another way to say “ok”, essentially.  “Acuerdo” means “agreement” and “de acuerdo” literally translates to something like “in agreement”, as in “I’m in agreement” or “I concur”, though it doesn’t quite have the same formality as those expressions and usually just means “ok”.  It’s typically used in situations where some sort of accord or compromise is come to, as in agreeing to meet at a certain place at a certain time or how much to pay for something, etc.  Examples:

“¿Te ve a las once, entonces?” = “I’ll see you at eleven, then?”

“De acuerdo.” = “Ok.”

“Cuesta veintiocho pesos.” = “It costs twenty-eight pesos.”

“De acuerdo.” = “Deal.”

Déjese De Cuentos

Means something like “cut the crap” or “shall we dispense with the bull?”.  “Dejar” means “to leave” and is being used in the imperative here as a command, so you’re being told to leave something, and “cuento” means “story” but is also used to mean a lie like we might use “tale” in “a tall tale”, and you see it used like this in the expression “contar cuentos” which means “to tell tales” (“to lie”).  You see it used the same way here with “déjese de cuentos” where you’re being told to dispense with the tall tales.  Example:

“Puedo venderte ese carro por sólo cien mil pesos.”= “I can sell you this car for only a hundred thousand pesos.”

“Déjese el cuento, ¿cuanto puede bajar?” = “Cut the crap, how much can you come down?”


This means something like “What? How’s that?” and is used to express mild surprise at something you just heard.  “cómo” literally translates to “how” so this isn’t just a statement of surprise but it’s also a question that should elicit a response, so you’re not only expressing your disbelief but you’re also asking how it is that this thing came to be.  Example:

Dr. Evil: “Me abstengo de lanzar los misiles nucleares por…¡un trillón de dólares!!”

El Presidente: “¡¿Cómo?!”


“Seguro” literally means “safe” or “secure” but in this context it means “sure” and is used the same way we would use “sure” as a response meaning “yes”.  Example:

El Presidente: “¿Aceptas un cheque?”

Dr. Evil: “Seguro.”

No Me Importa

Literally means “it’s not important to me” and it’s the most common way of simply saying “I don’t care” in Spanish, it’s an expression that you’ll definitely hear a lot regardless of the regional dialect in question. Example:

“¿Quiere hielo en su trago, señor?” = “Do you want ice in your drink, sir?”

“Seguro, no me importa.” = “Sure, I don’t care.”

¡Qué Esperanzas!

This literally means “what hope!” and is another way of saying “no”, “no way!”, or “not a chance!” in an emphatic way. Example:

“Papa, ¿va a comprarme un carro para mi cumpleaños?” = “Dad, are you going to buy me a car?”

“¡Qué esperanzas!” = “Not a chance!”

Ni Modo

This is one more way of saying “oh well” or “oh well, what can you do?”, but keep in mind that it’s not a particularly sympathetic expression, so if the bad thing that happened, happened to someone else, you may not want to use this.  Example:

“¡Tu vaca gorda morada comió mi pobre gato!” = “Your fat purple cow ate my poor cat!”

“Ni modo…” = “Oh well…”

“No me gustas tú.” = “I don’t like you.”

No Es Para Tanto

“Tanto” means “much” or “so much” or “that much”, so the literal meaning we get here is something like “it’s not for that much” and the way it’s really used to express the feeling of “it’s not a big deal” or “ok, that’s a bit much”.  Example:

“Mi vecino me está molestando mucho ahora.” = “My neighbor is really irritating me lately.”

“Puedo atropellarle con mi vaca morada.” = “I can run over him with my purple cow.”

“No es para tanto.” = “Maybe that’s a bit much.”

If you’d like to learn more everyday, spoken Spanish…

What I recommend is using popular media by and for native Spanish speakers, that is movies, TV shows, music, comics, etc. of whatever type appeals to you (that is, if you like dramas, pick drama movies and shows in Spanish to watch, if you like pop music, pick some Spanish pop music).  How do you learn Spanish from them?  Well, I’ve got a couple of recommendations for you:

  1. Yabla.  They take popular media, like what I’m talking about, such as TV shows and YouTube videos, and put them into a special player for you that shows you subtitles in both Spanish and English (either/both can be turned on/off) where clicking any word you don’t know results in the video pausing and the definition coming up for you in the dictionary on the side of the player as well as automatically adding the word to your flashcards for later review.  They also let you quiz yourself on the video by playing it with certain words blanked out of the subtitles and you have to fill in or select the correct choice (you can choose between fill-in-theblank or multiple choice).  It’s a fantastic system for language students, for a lot more details (including screenshots) see my review of Yabla here.
  2. My book!  I wrote a whole book about how to learn Spanish from whatever popular media interests you.  I personally started out with telenovelas and therefore called  my method (and the book) The Telenovela Method (you don’t have to use telenovelas).  It’s in its second edition and currently has nineteen reviews on Amazon with eighteen five-star reviews and one four-star review.

Related Posts

Spanish Transition Words (Muletillas) and Sentence Starters: The Grease of the Language Gears

How to Not Sound Like a Gringo – The 16 Most Common Spanish Errors and How to Avoid Them

Spanish Conversation Connectors: “it seems to me”, “all joking aside”, “I presume”, etc. – 4 Pages Worth!

Additional Resources and Further Reading

Common Phrases (with recordings by native speakers of each)

80+ Common Spanish Phrases to Help you Rock Any Social Situation [downloadable as a PDF at the bottom, very useful – Andrew]

71 Common Spanish Phrases to Survive Your First Conversation with a Native Speaker

That’s it!  If you’ve got any more expressions  you think ought to be on here, tell me in the comments and I’ll be glad to add them to the list and give you credit, also…  If you thought the above was at all useful and you want to learn (or are learning) Spanish, please give me a chance and read what I have to say about my book below!  Thank you so much for checking out my blog and I hope you’ve enjoyed my writing.

I learned to speak conversational Spanish in six months using TV shows, movies, and even comics: I then wrote a book on how you can, too

I have a whole method and a book I wrote about it called The Telenovela Method where I teach you how to learn Spanish from popular media like TV shows, movies, music, books, etc. that you can all find online for free.  It was the #1 new release in the Spanish Language Instruction section on Amazon for nearly a month after it came out and currently has 17 reviews there with a 4.9/5 stars average.  It’s available for $7.99-$9.99 for the e-book version depending on who you buy it from (Kindle version on Amazon is now $7.99) and $16.99 for the paperback (occasionally a bit cheaper, again, depending on who you buy it from).

It’s currently available in both e-book and paperback from:


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