Spanish Survival Kit: Asking for Directions

Asking for directions in Spanish is an incredibly useful and very easy skill to master. To ask for directions in Spanish you need to start with a simple question: ‘¿dónde?’, which means ‘where?’ in Spanish. I’ll show you how to pair up ‘dónde’ with the keywords for hotel, downtown, restaurant, bathroom, and a few others, and you’ll be on your way.

First things first, let’s learn the word that will guide our whole lesson:

Where = Dónde (DON-deh)
Where is…? = ¿Dónde está? (DON-deh ess-TAH)

Simple! Knowing just that in Spanish can get you very far. Attach a location and you are set:

Where is this restaurant? = ¿Dónde está este restaurante?
Where is this hotel? = ¿Dónde está este hotel?

Note that the H in hotel is as silent as always.

The hotel = El hotel (ELL oh-TELL)

Let’s add a few more locations in Spanish you might need to go to:

The station = La estación (LAH ess-tah-see-OHN)
The street = La calle (LAH CAH-jeh)
The avenue = La avenida (LAH ah-veh-NEE-da)

Say you have the name of a restaurant and you ask:

¿Dónde está este restaurante?

To answer, we use ‘está’ as well:

El restaurante está en ese hotel = The restaurant is in that hotel

We could also simply say:

(It) is in that hotel = Está en ese hotel

Since there is no “it” in Spanish, “it is” will just be ‘está:’

Before moving on, let me introduce you to our magic preposition: ‘en.’ Whenever you would use ‘in,’ ‘on’ or ‘at’ in English to refer to a location, we use ‘en’ in Spanish.

On that street = En esa calle
At the restaurant = En el restaurante
The restaurant is in that hotel = El restaurante está en ese hotel
In the kitchen = En la cocina

The station is on that street = La estación está en esa calle
(It) is on that street = Está en esa calle

Two Crucial Words: Here and There – Aquí and Allá

These Spanish words will, no doubt, take you very far.

Here = Aquí (ah-KEE)
There = Allá (ah-JAH)

The station is there = La estación está allá

Or, in its negative form:

The station is not there = La estación no está allá

Notice the order here. In Spanish, ‘no’ is always placed before the verb.

What if you wanted to say ‘the bus station’? You would have to say ‘the station of bus’:

The Bus Station = The Station of Bus = La Estación de Bus

In Spanish, we don’t place two nouns together, so the structure is always ‘X of X.’

Let’s add some more vocab to see this in action:

The bus = El bus (ELL BOOS)
The subway = El metro
The train = El tren
The taxi = El taxi

Thus, ‘train station’ would become ‘station of train:’ estación de tren.

Subway station = Station of subway = Estación de metro

Following that same idea, how would you say ‘water bottle’? Simple, it becomes ‘bottle of water:’ botella de agua.

Lemon juice? Juice of lemon… ¡Jugo de limón!

Let’s try with a new word:

The ticket = El ticket
Train ticket = Ticket de tren

So you see, it’s always the same.

Wine bottle = Botella de vino

Entrada and Salida

Back to locations now. Let’s finish off with more useful vocab you can use with ‘¿dónde está?:’

The entrance = La entrada (LAH en-TRA-da)
The exit = La salida (LAH sah-LEE-da)

Where is the exit? = ¿Dónde está la salida?

Similarly, you could ask:

Where is Sonia? = ¿Dónde está Sonia?

And answer:

Sonia is here = Sonia está aquí

That’s all. Feeling powerful? Now it’s time to piece it all together. In my next video and article we will keep building up on this to take you even farther. Don’t miss it!

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