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The most important vocabulary to know during your trip in Costa Rica

Spanish is such a friendly, pleasant language! A few simple expressions and words will help you to meet the locals more easily and get a real feel for Costa Rica. One expression that you will definitely hear while you are in Costa Rica is "Pura Vida!" which expresses the happy and optimistic outlook of its inhabitants.

A very particular Spanish

During your trip to Costa Rica, you'll sometimes hear an accent that will make you think of English. It is true that the US has a lot of influence here and that can be felt even in the language. Logically then, a lot of Costa Ricans understand and speak English. So you should be able to communicate with people. I also recommend you watch some films in Spanish before you go, perhaps even with Spanish sub-titles so that you can get used to the sounds. If you are really motivated then you could read newspapers or a book in Spanish. Don't forget to take a pocket dictionary to help with simple vocabulary and try to learn some of the country's typical expressions! Some of them are surprising.

Other languages and dialects

Do you understand the signpost?

There are a dozen other languages spoken in the country, several local languages such as Bribri with 11,000 speakers, Maleku or Guatsuo with 8,000, Cabécar with 9,000, Ngäbere and Guaymi with 5,000 speakers and Bocotá. On the Caribbean coast Mekatelyu, a sort of English creole that is very pleasant to hear, is spoken by more than 55,000 people. All these languages, which are a result of its history and culture, only add to Costa Rica's charm.

Basic expressions / Common Words

English Espagnol
Good morning / Good evening Buenos días / Benas tardes
How are you? ¿ Cómo está ?
Fine, thank you, and you? ¿ Muy bien gracias y usted ?
I understand / I don't understand Entiendo / No entiendo
Sorry Lo siento
Goodbye Adiós
Welcome Bienvenido
Thank you (very much) (Muchas) gracias
Excuse me Por favor
My name is... Me llamó
No thank you No gracias
Yes / No Sí / No
You're welcome De nada / Con placer


English Espagnol
How much is it? ¿ Cuánto cuesta?
It is very cheap Es muy barato
It is too expensive! Es demasiado caro!
Can you lower the price? ¿ Usted puede bajar el precio?
I would like to buy ... this one! Me gustaría comprar... esto, este mismo !
I like it / I don't like it Me encanta / Odio
Money Dinero
I'm just looking around. Solo estoy mirando


English Espagnol
I would like to go to ... Me gustaría ir a...
Plane Avión
Boat Barco
Train Tren
Taxi Taxi
Bus Autobus
I would like to rent ... Me gustaría alquilar...
Motorbike Moto
Car Auto / Coche
Bike Bicicleta


English Espagnol
Where is ...? / How can I get to ...? ¿dónde está...? / ¿Cómo ir a...?
Bank Banco
Train station Estacíon
Centre Centro Ciudad
Hotel Hotel
Hospital Hospital
Is it close / far? ¿Es cerca / lejos?
Straight ahead Todo recto
Left / Right Izquierda / Derecha
North / South / East / West Norte / Sur / Este / Oeste

Numberssieben, acht, neun, zehn

English Espagnol
one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro, Cinco, Seís, Siete, Ocho, Nueve y Diez
twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty Veinte, Treinta, Cuarenta, Cincuenta, Sesenta
seventy, eighty, ninety Setenta, Ochenta, Noventa
One hundred Cien

Hours/Dates and daysDienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag, Sonntag

English Espagnol
What time is it? ¿Que hora es?
When? ¿Cuando?
Yesterday Ayer
Today (morning/midday/evening) Hoy (mañana/mediodía/noche)
Tomorrow Mañana
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday Lunes, Martes, Miercoles, Jueves, Viernes, Sábado, Domingo
I am here on vacation Estoy aquí de vacaciones / viaje
I am here for business Estoy aquí para el trabajo / tramites

Time to eat!

English Espagnol
I am hungry / I am thirsty Tengo hambre / Tengo sed
Enjoy ¡Que aproveche!
Cheers! ¡Salud!
It was delicious ¡Fue delicioso!
What can you recommend? ¿Que me recomendaría?
I am vegeterian Soy vegetariano
Not spicy please (I don't like spices) ¡sin especia! (No me gusta el picante)
It's too hot ¡Es demasiado caliente!
I am allergic ¡soy alérgico!
Sea food Mariscos
Peanuts Maní
Gluten Gluten
I would like... Me gustaría...
Water Agua
Tee / Coffee Té / Café
Beer / Wine Cerveza / Vino
The bill, please La cuenta por favor

Health / Emergency / Security

English Espagnol
I need to see a doctor. Necesito ver a un médico
Call an ambulance / Call 911 Que llamen a un médico / una ambulancia
Where is the hospital? ¿Dónde está el hospital?
I do not feel very good No me siento muy bien
It hurts here Me duele aqui
Where can I find the restrooms? ¿Dónde están los servicios/baños?
Help! ¡Socorro!
Police Policía
Danger Peligro
I'm lost Estoy perdido/a


English Espagnol
Have a nice day ! ¡Que tenga usted un buen día!
Laure Alvarez
44 contributions
Updated 26 October 2018