The difference between mastering Spanish vocabulary and grammar and being able to hold a fluid, casual conversation in Spanish is quite vast. That’s because – just like in English – a lot of the nuance and fluidity in a conversation is due just as much to little, seemingly meaningless words as it is to vocabulary and proper verb conjugation.
These little ‘meaningless’ words and phrases are also known as linking words or transition words. As a native English speaker, I had no idea just how important they were until I realized that I had no idea how to say them in my host country’s language. A fact which often left me frustrated and frequently caused me to either: 1) come to a dead stop mid-sentence, or 2) simply insert the English word in place of the Spanish word I didn’t know, leaving whoever was listening to me totally confused or amused.
To spare you and your listeners the same amusing confusion and frustration, I decided to compile a list of 30 essential Spanish words that helped me take my conversations from stilted to fluid.
30 Essential Spanish Transition Words and Phrases
- Aunque – even though, although
- Además – furthermore, in addition to
- Mientras – meanwhile
- Por lo menos – at least
- Entonces – then
- Pues – well
- Como – like, as
- Al principio; al final/por ultimo – to start, in the first place; to finish, in the end
- Desde luego – of course, certainly
- Ya / todavía – yet, already / still
- Asi que; por lo tanto – that’s why; for that reason
- Por si acaso – in case
- Lo/la que sea; donde sea; cuando sea; cualquier – whatever; wherever; whenever; whichever
- Por ejemplo – for example
- Sobre todos – above all, especially
- Por fin – finally
- Un rato, un ratito – A little while
- Luego – next, then
- De repente – suddenly
- Sino – rather, but, instead
- Apenas de – barely
- De todas formas, de todas maneras – in any case
- Por otro lado – on the other hand
- Sin embargo – nonetheless
- De hecho – in fact
- Pues nada, venga – anyway…
- Sabes – y’know
- Es que – honestly, I have no translation for this one, but it’s one of those non-meaning albeit ubiquitous conversational words like ‘like’ in English. As in, “Like, so are we gonna go to the movies, or maybe, like, get some food, cuz I’m, like, hungry as hell.”
- A ver – let’s see
- Qué va – no way! I dun beleevit. Yeah, right.
What are some Spanish transition words and phrases that you’ve found useful? Share them in the comments!