One of the first things you need to know in order to speak Spanish is how to start.
If you can’t start a conversation, how are you ever going to practice? And, what better way to start a conversation than by introducing yourself?!
That’s where this post comes in. Here, you will find some quick tips, phrases, and different ways to introduce yourself, and learn to get the conversational ball rolling.
Let’s look at the very basics of how you’ll go about letting the Spanish speaking world know just who you are.
How boring would it be if the only way we said “hello” to each other was by simply saying “hello”? We have a wide range of choices we can select from when greeting other people–hi, good morning/ afternoon/ evening, hey, what’s up?, and the list goes on.
In Spanish you have more options than just “hola” to choose from as well:
Buenos días– Good morning
Buenas tardes– Good afternoon/ evening
¿Qué tal?– How’s it going? (A little more informal)
¿Qué hay?– (Loosely translated) What’s up? (Very informal–use only with friends, family, etc.)
Buenas– Hello (something you’ll hear a lot on the streets, or when you walk into shops, etc.)
The logical next step, after saying “hello” to someone would be to tell them your name!.You can’t very well carry on a conversation with someone if you don’t know who they are or let them know who you are. Once again, you have some options.
(Yo) me llamo…- The most commonly used, and literally translated means “I call myself”.
Soy*…- If you’re a fan of brevity, this introduction is for you! It’s like saying “I’m…”
Mi nombre es- The very practical “My name is…”
*This verb (which comes from ser** one of the two ways in Spanish to say “to be”) will come in handy when introducing yourself, so make sure you keep it in the back of your mind, as we’ll be seeing it again.
**This verb is used with permanent qualities. I am short; I am American; I am awesome–these things won’t change! Temporary qualities take the verb estar. Estoy enfadada-I am angry. Estoy triste-I am sad, etc.
While it is important to know someone’s name in order to strike up a conversation with them, if that’s all you say, the chat will be very short-lived. So, what else can you say about yourself?
The verb soy was mentioned before, and means “I am…”. If you add the (very useful to remember) preposition “de” after it, you’re saying “I am from…”
Soy de Chicago-I am from Chicago.
Just because you’re from somewhere, doesn’t necessarily mean that you live there. So, that’s probably a good little piece of information to give someone about yourself. It’s said vivo en (I live in…)
Soy de Chicago, pero vivo en Madrid– I’m from Chicago, but I live in Madrid.
Saying your age is a little different. Surprisingly, you don’t use ser or estar for this one. Pay attention here, because this is something that really gets a lot of English speakers in trouble. In Spanish you are not 20 years old… You have 20 years!! (I repeat you “have x years”)
Tengo 20 años-I have 20 years (Meaning- I am 20 years old).
Hey! There’s that verb again! I told you it’d be important.
Another important thing you should be able to mention about yourself is what you do–as in “what’s your job”?
Soy un(a) estudiante/ profesor(a)/ abogado(a)/ dentista– I am a student/ teacher/ lawyer/ dentist (notice that this last one doesn’t change gender).
Another useful expression you may want to know when introducing/ talking about yourself is “me gusta…”. This can be a tricky expression for English speakers, because it’s construction is a little different than how it’s said in English. Literally translated it means “To me it is pleasing…”
So as not to get too complicated, let’s just stick with using this construction with some verbs in infinitive to say “To me it is pleasing to do (insert verb here).”
Me gusta leer/ jugar al baloncesto/ cocinar/ ir al cine– I like to read/ play basketball/ cook/ go to the movies.
Let’s take everything we’ve seen and put it all together. Below you will find two examples of people introducing themselves. They are both native English speakers who live/study in Spain. They will use the aforementioned phrases, as well as add in a few extra things about themselves.
¡Buenos días! Soy Ana. Tengo veintisiete años. Soy de Chicago, pero ahora vivo en una ciudad de España que se llama Zamora. Soy profesora de inglés en un instituto. Al volver a los Estados Unidos, voy a seguir con mis estudios.
Me gustaría hacer un doctorado en la literatura española. Pero, por ahora, estoy contenta de vivir en España y ir mejorando mi español y aprendiendo más de este país tan maravilloso. En mi tiempo libre me gusta leer, ver la tele, y pasar tiempo con mis amigos, mi marido y mi perro.
Estudio español porque la historia del país me fascina. No es solo eso, sino también la cultura me encanta y la gente es muy amable.
Translation: Good morning! I’m Ana. I’m 27 years old. I’m from Chicago, but now I live in a Spanish city called Zamora. I’m an English teacher in a high school. Upon returning to the United States, I’m going to continue my studies.
I would like to get a doctorate in Spanish literature. But for now I’m happy living in Spain and improving my Spanish and learning more about this wonderful country. In my free time I like to read, watch TV, and spend time with my friends, my husband, and my dog.
I study Spanish because the history of the country fascinates me. It’s not only this, but also I love the culture and the people are lovely.
Hola, me llamo Nick y soy de los Estados Unidos. Vivo en España y soy profesor de inglés. Tengo veintiséis años. Tengo una mujer que se llama Ana y un perro pequeño cuyo nombre es Joey. Llevo 8 años estudiando español, y tengo un masters en la linguística española. Me gusta estudiar español porque siempre me han gustado las lenguas y las palabras y poder hablar con otro grupo de gente es algo que puede ser muy gratificante y beneficioso.
Translation: Hello, my name is Nick and I’m from the United States. I live in Spain and am an English teacher. I’m 26 years old. I have a wife named Ana and a little dog whose name is Joey. I have been studying Spanish for 8 years, and I have a Masters in Spanish Linguistics. I like studying Spanish because I have always like languages and words, and being able to speak with another group of people is something that can be very rewarding and beneficial.
Introducing yourself is a very important part of taking your first steps to speaking Spanish. If you want to take your language to the next level, you need to practice speaking it. And if you can’t tell people who you are, how do you expect to have a conversation with them?
The aforementioned phrases, tips, etc. are just a handful of the different ways that you can go about letting people know who you are. So, now that you have a nice little base to start, get out there and find someone to talk to. Practice as much as you can, and you’ll be well on your way to speaking Spanish in no time!
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Anastasia is a Chicago, Illinois native. She began studying Spanish over 10 years ago, and hasn’t stopped since. Living in Spain since 2012, she loves Spanish tortilla, vino tinto, and anything that contains jamón ibérico.
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